The Misadventures of Salem Hyde: Spelling Trouble by Frank Cammuso
This is the first book in an upcoming graphic novel series for children in elementary school. Salem Hyde is a witch, so sometimes she misunderstands what the other kids at school are talking about. She insists she is a good speller and goes on to prove it by casting a spell. Unfortunately, the spell turned a teacher into an enormous dinosaur. After that, Salem’s family decide that she needs an animal companion. Salem thinks a unicorn would be perfect, but she gets a cat instead: a cat named Percival J. Whamsford III. As his name indicates, he has a very different personality than Salem. Let the fun begin!
Done in black and white illustrations, this graphic novel has the feel of a traditional comic strip rather than a graphic novel. That is not a complaint, in fact I enjoyed the more Calvin and Hobbes feel to the book with moments that stood on their own and the whole telling a full story. Cammuso’s art has a traditional vibe to it, one that will have mass appeal. The humor is slick, funny and age appropriate offering silly moments galore.
A strong beginning to a new series, Salem Hyde should be welcome at all libraries as long as she doesn’t try to “spell.” Appropriate for ages 7-9.
Reviewed from ARC received from Amulet Books.
Hello, My Name Is Ruby by Philip C. Stead
Ruby is a little bird who is eager to make new friends. So she introduces herself to every animal she meets. She’s also eager to learn all sorts of things so she asks all sorts of questions. Along her journey, she meets different birds who travel in different ways, a giraffe, and many more. Finally, she meets a bird who doesn’t sing like Ruby does, but he has heard Ruby’s name before. So he takes her there and suddenly Ruby fits in, but a little bird like Ruby is completely unique so she manages to stand out anyway.
Filled with the same solid writing and art as his previous books, Stead has created a shining new protagonist here in little Ruby. She is so similar to many children who are fearless when meeting strangers and eager to have conversations about anything at all. There are many children who will see themselves and their energy in Ruby. Stead puts page breaks at wonderful points in the story, creating stand-alone moments of flight and friendship that are exceptional.
As always, Stead’s art is stellar. He manages in just a few lines and the tip of a head to capture Ruby’s spirit and vibrancy. In the end, the range of Ruby’s friends is shone as a group and the image just sings.
A tiny but oh so impressive little bird will steal your heart in this vibrant picture book. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.