Owly & Wormy: Friends All Aflutter


Owly & Wormy: Friends All Aflutter by Andy Runton

The popular Owly graphic novels make their picture book debut with this colorful new story.  Owly and his best friend Wormy want to make friends with some butterflies.  So they plant a milkweed plant, hoping to attract some.  All they manage to attract are some bugs that are definitely not butterflies and that are munching on the milkweed leaves.  Owly and Wormy make friends with the bugs instead until one day the bugs have to leave.  Now Owly and Wormy are left alone.  They wait and wait for their friends to return.  When they eventually do come back though, Owly and Wormy don’t recognize them!

Runton’s friendly and funny Owly graphic novels are some of my go-to graphic novels for younger children.  This new book makes the Owly stories available to even younger readers.  With the wordless format, this is a book that will appeal to children just about to become readers themselves. 

Add the bright colors to the illustrations and you have a very appealing book that is about friendship and metamorphosis.  The cartoon-like illustrations filled with smiling faces large and small are very friendly themselves.  The illustrations run from two-page spreads to smaller more graphic-novel-like images that read as panels.

This book takes graphic novels to the youngest readers and introduces them to a friend that they can share adventures with for years to come.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Simon & Schuster.

Okay for Now: A Brilliant, Amazing Read


Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt

Released April 18, 2011.

Let me make this simple – READ THIS BOOK!  If you are a fan of the book this is a companion book to The Wednesday Wars, you will fall head-over-heels for this one.  If you never read that book, it doesn’t matter, still read this one.  It stands on its own fantastically well.  In this book, a small character from The Wednesday Wars is given his own book.  Doug Swieteck is a boy who has just moved to a new town with a brother who gets into plenty of trouble, a mother who smiles far too rarely, and a father whose hands are fast when he is angry, which is most of the time.  But Doug is more than the “skinny thug” that people assume he is, much more.  This coming of age story set in 1968 is about how a entire town can be wrong and how that same town can help raise a boy to be the man he is capable of being. 

This is my favorite Schmidt book yet, and that is saying something!  The characterizations here are so well rendered.  The people are real, tangible and each and every person in the book is human and complex.  Yet the book remains fresh, easily read, easily related to, and vibrant.  It is a book with space inside it for the reader to make realizations, come to conclusions, and bring their own perspective. 

Told in first person by Doug, the voice of the book is entirely his own.  It never stumbles, never becomes an adult looking at the situation, never lectures.  Instead it learns as it speaks, realizes as it voices and sometimes doesn’t figure out what the reader has come to understand.  It is raw, beautiful and heartrending.  

I’m afraid I cannot capture in my review what this book is.  To say that it should be a contender for an award this year is to lessen it.  Instead, this book is one that can honestly change the way a child sees themselves.  Not through anything didactic, but instead just allowing an honesty to pervade the book, a realization to happen, art and words to flow and reveal.

An unforgettable book that is sure to be a classic in years to come, this is a book that defies categorization and summary.  Appropriate for ages 11-14.

Reviewed from NetGalley digital galley.


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New Funny Prize

Roald Dahl

Cover of Roald Dahl

Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen has started a new book prize that celebrates the funniest of children’s books.  The Roald Dahl Funny Prize will reward authors and illustrators who celebrate the humor of life.  There will be two categories: age 6 and under, and ages 7-14.  The prize will be administered by Booktrust.

The first shortlist will be announced to coincide with the third annual Roald Dahl Day on September 13th.

I can hardly wait!