Category: Graphic Novels

The King of Kazoo by Norm Feuti

The King of Kazoo by Norm Feuti

The King of Kazoo by Norm Feuti

When there is an explosion on Mount Kazoo someone must investigate. So King Cornelius who is quite vain and rather scattered and his magic-wielding daughter, Bing, set off with the royal inventor Torq to see what has happened. They take Torq’s latest invention the “gonkless carriage” to get there. As they discover a deserted village at the top of the mountain, the three realize that something much bigger than a natural phenomenon is going on. As they solve the mystery of the explosion, it will take all of their scientific and magic know-how to battle a villainous wizard who is risking the future of the entire kingdom.

This graphic novel has a zany appeal. It is filled with lots of action, plenty of one-liner jokes and three very appealing main characters. From the clueless king with his pride on full display to the two plucky companions, they all have lots of personality to move the story forward. The tension between magic and science also adds energy to the storyline of the book, creating a book where both wizard fans and science fans will find happiness.

The art casts all of the characters as rabbits with their ears high alongside hats and crowns. The art has a cartoon style with subtle coloring that makes the entire world rich with detail. The art and story work well together with the dialogue moving the story along nicely. Pacing is also done well with a rip-roaring and wild pace that will appeal to young readers.

Science, magic and mystery all in one graphic novel! Appropriate for ages 7-10.

Reviewed from ARC received from Scholastic.

Hilo: Saving the Whole Wide World by Judd Winick

Hilo Saving the Whole Wide World by Judd Winick

Hilo: Saving the Whole Wide World by Judd Winick (InfoSoup)

This second book in the Hilo series is just as fresh and exciting as the first. In this book, Hilo and his friends DJ and Gina have to figure out how to save the earth from creatures who are appearing from other planets through strange portals. Luckily, Hilo quickly figures out how to zap the creatures back to their worlds, but soon even he can’t keep up with number of portals opening. Then there is also the question of Razorwark, the villain from the first book and whether he will be arriving through one of the portals himself bringing with him a potential answer about Hilo’s origins. I don’t want to spoil a single thing in this smart and funny series, so pick it up!

Winick sets just the right tone in this second book, managing to handily escape the sophomore slump and keep the series action-filled and funny. Though this book does serve as a bridge to the rest of the story, it also fills in many gaps for readers about Hilo and his friends. We are also introduced to a marvelous new character in Polly, a sorceress martial-arts cat. She is entirely kick-butt and ferocious, leaning into every battle that comes her way.

Winick does a great job with the art as well. His action sequences are dynamic and colorful. The portals themselves add a wonderful tension to the page, where one isn’t sure what is going to arrive next. Each character is unique and delightful to spend time with and once again I applaud Winick’s decision to have strong girls and diverse characters center stage.

A second book that continues to build on a great graphic novel series for children. Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

Little Dee and the Penguin by Christopher Baldwin

Little Dee and the Penguin by Christopher Baldwin

Little Dee and the Penguin by Christopher Baldwin (InfoSoup)

Three friends head out for a quiet picnic together that will end up leading them on a wild adventure. There is an opinionated vulture, a friendly but rather slow dog, and a motherly bear. On their picnic, they meet two creatures who will change their day entirely. Little Dee is a human and a resourceful child who doesn’t speak at all. Then there is the penguin who is on the run from the polar bears who are hot on his trail. Now it is up to the five of them to get the penguin back to his home before he ends up a  meal. Along the way, planes are stolen and jumped out of, wise mountain goats offer sage advice (maybe), and safety rafts become sleds. Much the same way that five unlikely characters become friends.

Baldwin has created a cast of lovable characters in this graphic novel for children. The humor is truly laugh-out-loud funny. It got to the point where I was following family members around to share one-liners from the story. In fact a large part of the success of this book is in the blend of a funny story in general and then the way that circumstances seem to invisibly line up for the perfect pun or joke with impeccable timing.

The art is wonderful too. Each character is unique and their outward appearance says a lot about their personalities. The prickly vulture is all angles. The bear is soft plush. Little Dee is a jolt of visual energy. The action is captured with a sense of fun throughout, adding to the fast pace.

A silly and very successful read, this graphic novel will be enjoyed by all. Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from library copy.

Lucky Penny by Ananth Hirsh

Bread Pig_Case

Lucky Penny by Ananth Hirsh and Yuko Ota (InfoSoup)

What do you do when you lose your job and your apartment on the same day? Well, if you have a friend with a storage unit, you move in there! Penny lands a job with her friend’s family too at their laundromat working for a 12-year-old manager. As Penny figures out the tricks to living in a storage unit, she also meets a boy who works at the community center. At first she tries to trade him a date to be allowed to shower there, but their connection grows. Still, there are problems with living in a storage unit like heat, kids trying to break in, and more. Perhaps it will take a villain and his henchmen to battle to change Penny’s luck. Or not.

I loved this playful graphic novel that will work for both teens and adults. Penny is clearly out of high school but also in that bizarre interim before becoming a “real” adult. She is entirely lovable in her own unique way with a tattoo she hates, plenty to worry about and very few plans for the future. Still, she manages to take care of herself, keep a job, flirt a little, and fall in love.

I particularly enjoyed the way that the book would suddenly have battle scenes. The majority of the book is a slice-of-life from Penny’s world. It is filled with small moments that are charming and lovely. Still, there is real humor here such as the scores above characters’ heads as they drink in a bar. The fighting too brings this graphic novel to a different and unexpected place where it pays homage to plenty of hero comic tropes.

Funny and smart, this graphic novel will be appreciated by older teens and adults, some looking forward to life beyond high school and some looking back to when they weren’t adults either. Appropriate for ages 15-18.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

 

 

I Am Pan! by Mordicai Gerstein

I Am Pan by Mordicai Gerstein

I Am Pan! by Mordicai Gerstein (InfoSoup)

From the minute he is born, Pan is filled with mischief. Born with his goat horns and hoofed feet, he is immediately silly and even gets the grumpy Zeus to smile. As Pan grows, he becomes bored with life on Olympus and gets into so much trouble that the Gods ask him to return to Arcadia where he was born. While there, he invents panic, falls in love with the moon, and helps battle the monster Typhon. He also falls in love and marries Echo and discovers his love of music and the pan pipes. Story after story shows the power of merriment, music and mischievousness.

Gerstein embraces the spirit of Pan on the page by telling the tales with a zany spirit and a wild feel. There is not attempt to contain Pan here, just a feeling of being along on a very rambunctious ride. This suits the subject beautifully, giving space to the large personality of Pan. The graphic novel format also works very nicely with retelling Greek myths, keeping them brief and showing rather than telling a lot of the action.

The illustrations of this picture book/graphic novel are done in loud colors with lots of action and movement. Pan almost flies off the page in some sections, particularly when creating panic personally. The illustrations match the subject, offering a loud and cheery look at this wild God.

I am hoping this is not the only Greek God book that Gerstein does, since this book works so well and offers a very approachable and funny look at Pan. Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.

 

The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks

The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks

The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks (InfoSoup)

Kaidu has moved to the City, a city with no name because every time it is invaded it gets a new name. For those who are native to the city, they survive by not getting involved and living their lives despite those who rule them. Kaidu is one of the Dao, the current occupiers of the City. He is training to be a warrior, hoping to get to know the man who is his father. Kaidu loves the City and finds himself exploring its streets alone despite the rules forbidding it. It is in the City that Kaidu meets Rat, a girl who can dash along the rooftops of the city, make amazing leaps across space, and who lives on the streets. The two become friends slowly, first with Rat training Kaidu to run while Kaidu brings her food. Soon the two unlikely friends must decide whose side they are on as war and murder approach them and the City they love.

Hicks is the author of Friends with Boys and Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, both wonderful graphic novels. In this new book, she moves into historical fantasy where she has created a city at the center of warring nations. The world building here is exceptional, the entire city feels vibrant and alive as the characters move through it. Readers get to feel the same wonder as Kaidu as they explore the city and see the amazing Hole in the Sky that leads in. Hicks has a great sense of timing in the book, allowing moments to stretch and grow while others rush past in bursts of adventure and action.

The art is gorgeous as well. The two main characters play against each other visually, both of their races different but not clearly defined. This is a very important piece of the story, a decision that makes the book work on an entirely different level. It’s smart and sophisticated building of a society on a visual level.

The first book in a new series, I look forward to seeing where these dynamic characters take us next. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from copy received from First Second.

 

Delilah Dirk and the King’s Shilling by Tony Cliff

Delilah Dirk and the Kings Shilling by Tony Cliff

Delilah Dirk and the King’s Shilling by Tony Cliff (InfoSoup)

Released March 8, 2016.

This second book in the Delilah Dirk graphic novel series will have fans cheering once again for this Victorian sword-wielding heroine. When an English army officer threatens Delilah’s good name, her thirst for revenge takes over. But Selim sees it in a calmer way, trying to divert her attention back to their travels. He wishes to travel to England, though Delilah has no interest in going there. That is until she discovers that it may be the way to take down the office who wronged her. Soon the two travelers are in England where Delilah reveals her own background and Selim attempts to enjoy his first trip there even as he is pressed into service for Delilah’s family.

This second book is just as delightful and refreshing as the first. Delilah stays entirely herself, taking on those doing wrong, defending her personal honor, and managing to have many amazing battles along the way with her sword whirling. Selim too remains the calm epicenter of Delilah’s world as the two of them travel together. He can’t get her to listen any better in this book, though in the end he seems to have known best all along. Their dynamic with one another is a major part of these books, the two of them both appreciating one another at times and then almost breaking into fist fights others. It was a particularly good choice to put their dynamic at risk in this book, making it all the more readable.

Cliff’s art is gorgeous. He has action galore here whether it is horses galloping or near escapes. Of course his battles in particular are incredibly done, frame after frame offering detail but also keeping the pacing brisk and the story line firmly in hand. The swirling skirts of Delilah match her swords and she fights in a most decidedly feminine and brutal way. It’s a delight to see.

Another winning Delilah Dirk book that anyone who loves a great sword fight will enjoy. Appropriate for ages 12-15.

Reviewed from copy received from First Second.