White Bird by R.J. Palacio

3 stars Middle School Graphic Novel

I liked the story behind this book but I thought that the book was slow at times.  It took about 4 days to finish this book as I just had a hard time getting back into it once I put it down.  I had a hard time liking Sara as I thought she acted selfish yet I liked the friendship she had with Tourteau.  I thought he brought out her good qualities which she needed in my opinion.  My heart was in it for Tourteau as I thought he really was just a good person and he tried to keep his emotions out it.    The text was easy to follow and the illustrations were okay. White Bird by R.J. Palacio

Kisses for Jet by Joris Bas Backer

2-2.50 stars Graphic novel

I was totally confused in this graphic novel.  I felt as if I was missing whole sections of the story and the author just provided these random thoughts and called it a story.  I was hoping for a more complete story, one that didn’t leave me confused.  

When Jet is forced into attending a boarding school, she has more than that adjustment to focus on.  She’s on her own, living and going to school with other kids who Jet needs to start, to connect with.  It’s supposed to be easy but as Jet begins this process, she begins to wonder exactly where she fits in all of this.  She knows where she’s “supposed” to fit but is that where she feels she belongs?   With a staff that’s supposed to now care for her needs, Jet wonders what those needs are. 

I liked the use of the single color in the illustrations.  I thought using one color, brought more focus on the issues in the text than to the illustrations.  Some of the illustrations were great and others seemed so washed out. I liked the concept of this graphic novel but it was really hard following this story. Our library had this as a child’s graphic novel but for the content/illustrations that this graphic novel includes, I think it’s more of a middle school novel.   (Nudity, smoking, sexual content)  Kisses for Jet  2-2.5 stars

Red Scare: A Graphic Novel by Liam Francis Walsh

5 stars Graphic Novel

This was an interesting graphic novel and I really enjoyed the ending.  The story revolves around Peggy who has polio and uses metal crutches to walk.  Peggy feels like a victim (why me?) and although her doctor says she’ll get better with exercise, Peggy doesn’t do them.  Peggy has a brother Skip who I feel, puts up with Peggy.  Peggy meets Cynthia one day at the doctors.  Cynthia has this powerful energy and this positive attitude which surprises Peggy.  It also motivates Peggy because Cynitha also has polio but her future is not so positive. 

Peggy helps her mom clean rooms at the local hotel.  Instead of cleaning though, Peggy pulls out a book and lies down on the floor in one of the hotel’s rooms she’s supposed to be helping her mother with and she starts reading.  Suddenly, the door opens and a guest is ushered in and Peggy hides under the bed. She escapes later when the gentleman washes up in the bathroom.  This sounds simple enough except this book takes place in 1953, when there’s talk of Communist Spies and secret missions.  And Peggy, she didn’t sneak out of the room with everything that she came in the room with.  Big problem!  When Peggy finds herself in possession of an amazing device, a device that changes everything in her life, I enjoyed how Peggy herself changed.  She became alive with energy and her whole attitude was transformed.  She has some individuals who have taken an interest in her but Peggy is more excited about how her life has changed to concern herself with them.   The illustrations in this graphic novel were fantastic and I could feel the energy on the pages as the drama unfolded.  There’s quite a bit of action taking place in this book but it’s not difficult to follow and I really enjoyed this book.  5 stars   Red Scare 

I Survived The Sinking of the Titanic, 1912 (I Survived Graphic Novel series) #1

5 stars Middle School Graphic Novel

I’m enjoying this series.  There’s nothing like getting some education while reading a graphic novel and if we can get our young readers to pick up this series and read them, they’ll acquire some historical information along with a great story.  With text boxes that are easy to follow, colorful illustrations, and a story that grabs your attention and moves quickly, the I Survived the Sinking of The Titanic, 1912 graphic novel, is a book that you’ll finish once you pick it up. 

The story begins with the sinking of the Titanic and we’re witnesses individuals falling into the Atlantic Ocean.  We hear a few comments from the passengers as they begin to realize what lies ahead for them.  We now flashback to the previous day, nineteen hours earlier, when a young girl and her brother awake inside their cabin.  Their aunt has taken them on this voyage.   Sister is easily entertained but brother likes to have some excitement in his life, hence his ability for trouble to follow him.  Their idea to check out the ship wouldn’t seem like such a bad idea but it’s what happens along the way and the timing of their inquiry that turns their little excursion into something big. I enjoyed the use of the different sized text boxes in this graphic novel and the illustrations.   The illustrator was able to add more details and provide more emphasis by varying the sizes of the text boxes.  The illustration’s attention to detail and the use of color added to the story and helped to create a mood within the story.   The author states that this is more of a historical fiction book with the characters of the book being fictional but the facts about the Titanic being factual.  I thought the story was entertaining and there wasn’t a lot of characters to keep track of.  At the back of the book, the author writes to her readers a personal note pertaining to the book and she also includes various information about the Titanic on a few pages

I Survived the Nazi Invasion, 1944 (I Survived Graphic Novels #3) by Georgia Ball

5 stars Middle School Graphic Novel

Another great I Survived graphic novel for children.  Addressing the Nazi Invasion of 1944, there’s nothing like reading how a family is forced apart and the young siblings try to outsmart their enemy, to get your blood flowing late at night.   I know from reading previous stories about the Nazi’s and hearing personal stories, that this period in history is one of the darkest but each time I read one of these stories, I still shake my head.  To allow someone to have that much control and then, all the individuals that followed every one of his commands.  I think it’s so sad.

It’s bad enough that families have been pulled out of their own homes and placed into a ghetto with who-knows how many other displaced families.   Just when they think this might be their new home, they’re yanked out and their lives are rearranged again.  For Max, he had his sister Zena and his Papa nearby until the Nazi’s decided they could use Papa elsewhere and they took him away.  Now, it’s just Max and Zena, and they’re trying to survive.  Can they do it alone?

I really enjoyed the illustrations in this graphic novel, the use of color was fantastic.  The action was nonstop as this family was pulled from their surroundings and became one of many.  If you haven’t checked out this graphic novel series based on the I Survived series, I highly recommend that you do.  

Jim Curious and the Jungle Journey: A 3-D Voyage into the Jungle by Matthias Picard

5 stars Graphic novel

This is a fun book to look at but you’ll need the 3D glasses that come with it, to fully appreciate its beauty.  There are no words to read inside this book, as that would be hard.  This is an oversized, children’s graphic novel about a young boy who goes on an adventure. It’s up to you, the reader, to decide whether the adventure actually took place. 

When the boy awakes, he is in a diving suit (make sure you notice how his house looks compared to the lighthouse.   He decides to follow a bug which has landed on his suit.  What an interesting world he has stepped into.  I thought the trees looked interested and instead of walking on land, the boy decides to walk through the swamp waters.  I liked the page where you can see part of him underwater and therefore you can see the both parts of the swamp too.  It’s quite an adventure as he explores this new world with snakes, bugs, frogs, and loads of other interesting creatures.  My ultimate favorite page was the butterfly pages.  Those two pages were fantastic!!  With lots of forest vegetation, trees, forest creatures, and the little boy, each page is bursting with life. 

Finding his way through the swamp, he finds himself amongst some ruins.  With a curious mind, he discovers steps, bridges, buildings, wall markings, and numerous other items that put a smile on his face.  I’m tired from all of his walking yet he continues on walking. It’s a fun adventure, right at your fingertips.  An entertaining, graphic novel to sit back and appreciate all the great 3D work that has gone into it.  It’s a book I can see young ones enjoying as there is nothing scary in the illustrations and some of the illustrations might inspire some good questions out of them.    5 stars 

Better Place by Duane Murray

5 stars Graphic Novel

My emotions were all over the place with this graphic novel.  It started out super sweet with a grandson and his granddad playing the parts of Red Rocket and Kid Cosmo, the grandson’s favorite comic heroes. Mom had had her father move in with them and the duo were creating their own real-life versions of the comic book duos adventures.  With granddad behind the shopping cart handle and grandson Dylan, helping with the navigation, they glide through the neighborhood saving the universe.  As a new kid, Dylan doesn’t know anyone so granddad is the perfect friend. 

Mother knows she should get granddad into a home since his recent diagnosis but granddad doesn’t want to go and they know that Dylan would be lost without him.  Then, there’s an incident with Dylan in the parking garage and later, they arrive back home to some emergency vehicles at their house.  Oh, granddad.  I wasn’t ready for what happened next but granddad is no longer in the picture. Instead of being honest with Dylan, she tells him that granddad went to a “better place.”  While mother deals with the loss of her father, Dylan begins another adventure looking for the “better place” so he can find his granddad.

I loved the relationship between Dylan and her granddad.  Even though his granddad was sick and didn’t act like a typical granddad, they had fun together and you could see how much they loved and appreciated each other.  Mother never really had time for Dylan at the beginning of the novel which I thought might change once her father died and left Dylan with no one but mom had her own emotions and issues surrounding her father’s death.  It’s quite emotional as both Dylan and his mother realize what granddad’s death means in their life.  They’ll need to start relying on each other.

The book did a great job of showing the emotions and difficulties that Dylan went through, whether he sailed or struggled through them.  I really enjoyed the illustrations. I feel there is something about the facial expressions in a graphic novel that bring the story to life and these were spot on.  With terrific details and the slightest use of color, this graphic novel is a winner.  5 stars

Took (graphic novel): a Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn

4.5 stars Graphic Novel

Holy macaroni!  You move your family into this neighborhood?!?  What was you thinking?  I got caught up inside the drama of this children’s graphic novel when I realized that the kids had no one looking out for them.  Well, that’s not totally true. There was first the creepy house with the spooky forest next to it then, the two children start getting picked on at school.  I read that a few of the area children have been disappearing over the years and how a witch might be connected with that.  A witch?  Erica starts talking to her doll ALL THE TIME and I was just waiting for that doll to start talking back to her and then, I don’t know what I would have done.  Daniel has to go into the forest to look for his little sister as she has disappeared in there. Yep, why she went in there he has no idea but after she did some quiet talking with her doll, she got up and headed off into the woods. 

Where is their mom and dad in all of this?  Good question.  They’re looking for jobs and they’re busy doing other things.  Isn’t that how it always is.  Now, what Daniel finds in the woods, when he’s looking for his little sister, has me reading this book into the early morning hours.  What a great middle school read. 

This is a gripping children’s graphic novel which I feel is good for upper elementary readers or middle schoolers.  The illustrations are colorful and I liked the variety of sizes that they used for text boxes.   It’s a book that will definitely grab your attention.  4.5 stars    

The Seventh Voyage by Jon J. Muth

3 stars Graphic Novel

 This is no children’s graphic novel.  I got to page 31 and I had to take a breather.  Seriously, I can see some middle schoolers understanding the concept of time travel and vortexes but little ones, no.  The illustrations were nicely done and if you could follow what was actually occurring, it was entertaining but it was disappointing that this was labeled for children.  

It was a bit like the Who’s on First comedy act by Abbott and Costello.   The Who, What, I Don’t Know, Why.  You remember that skit as Costello is trying to figure out the individuals playing out on the baseball field and Abbott is trying to give them to him but their names are so peculiar that Costello can’t understand.   Well, this is what is happening to Ijon. Space explorer Ijon Tichy is suddenly dealing with a major issue when his spaceship’s rudder is damaged and it needs repair.  Thinking that he can do it on his own, he soon realizes that it’ll take two individuals but he’s the only one in his spaceship.

With the damaged rudder, Ijon’s spaceship is caught in a space loop where he finds himself confronting someone new in his spaceship.  Oh, it’s his Monday self! What!?!  Just when I thought I understood this, someone else makes an appearance.  It’s his Wednesday self.  But what happened to his Monday self? 

“Well, the Monday me on Monday night became Tuesday morning, the Tuesday me, and so on.”

Folks, my head was spinning.  I tried to follow along.  Poor Ijon was as confused as I was.  He was asking his other selves who they were and how it all worked and I, I wanted them to go fix the rudder (for now, there were at least 2 individuals in the spaceship).  Perhaps then they could get rid of Tuesday, Wednesday, or whoever was with Ijon and let him finish his trip alone.

This book is definitely not for young kids unless it’s a young Sheldon Cooper.  I do think that the text boxes were easy to follow and I liked how they were done. This book does have a lot of words to read too.

Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder

3 stars YA

I didn’t know what to expect going into this graphic novel but the cover and the title grabbed me at the library.  This was one of those fantastic finds, that touched my soul and left a deep impression within.  Being both a sad and humorous memoir, the story is one that I feel most individuals will be able to relate to, in some respect, as Tyler is as real as it gets. 

At the age of 19, Tyler’s mom dies from cancer.  When her mother discovers that she’d been misdiagnosed, there were signs of hope but then….  It was now, less than a year since Tyler heard the dreadful news and now……. Tyler’s dad and her two younger siblings had each other but Tyler …………  Tyler had just started college; she was feeling isolated and ……. Tyler needed a shoulder, someone to listen to her, a ……… This book is about loss, it’s about the struggle an individual faces when dealing with the loss of a loved one.  Tyler voice is honest as she combines humor and affection in this story of survival after the death of her mother. 

Tyler’s spoke from the heart and her honesty was appreciated and respected as she says what so many individuals feel but are hesitate to speak out about.  As Tyler shares some Jewish traditions, I enjoyed reading about them and her perspective on them.  I honestly liked the idea of the Shiva.  What a wonderful, 7-day tradition that brings the whole family together celebrating the life of the individual who has passed away.  I really enjoyed this book and it does a fantastic job talking about grieving process yet I thought the book wasn’t heavy or depressing.  5 stars