Category: Graphic Novels

Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke

Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke

Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke (InfoSoup)

Released September 6, 2016.

Jack wants to spend his summer sleeping in or even with a job of his own. Instead, he is stuck watching his mute younger sister for the summer while his mother takes a second job to pay bills. Then one day at a flea market, Maddy does speak and tells Jack to trade his mother’s car for a box of unusual seeds. Jack does and soon his summer has turned into something very different. They create a garden at home and the seeds turn out to be very wild and even magical. There are onions that can walk, squash that bite, others that chase them down. Huge snails climb the house and one night a green dragon appears. Soon Jack has a choice to make, destroy the garden and its evil magic or risk them all.

According to the author note, this book was in the works for ten years. It’s a brilliant riff on the Jack in the Beanstalk classic. Fans of Zita the Spacegirl will recognize the character who sells Jack the seeds, which is a lovely little moment. Hatke keeps the pace wildly active with readers not knowing at all what is going to appear in the garden next. There is plenty of action and a willingness to just spend time exploring the magic garden and what it holds. Those pages are a delight.

The characters are nicely done as well with Maddy being the one who doesn’t speak but is also integral to all of the decisions being made. Then there is Lilly, the neighbor girl who knows how to wield a sword and even has access to other weapons and armor that will become crucial in the story. I greatly appreciate having a homeschooled girl character who is the one who knows how to battle and knows how to get along with others. It is these critical choices by the author that makes the book work so well. Maddy too is an autistic child who may not speak but has deep connections to the garden and knows exactly what she wants and often knows better than her brother.

Get this in the hands of Zita fans for sure and also those enjoying the battles in Hilo. There is so much to love here! Appropriate for ages 8-12.

Reviewed from digital galley received from First Second and Edelweiss.

 

Hippopotamister by John Green

Hippopotamister by John Green

Hippopotamister by John Patrick Green (InfoSoup)

The zoo where Hippo lives is run down and doesn’t get many visitors at all. His friend Red Panda suggests that Hippo join him in the human world and get a job. The two of them put on hard hats and try their hands at construction. Hippo discovers that he is quite good at building, but he doesn’t build the expected skyscraper. The two then try being hair dressers with similar results, though Hippo does find that he’s quite good at it. They put on chef hats and work in a restaurant kitchen where Hippo creates a pasta masterpiece and Red Panda creates a mess. They go on to try being bankers and dentists and many other jobs until they head back to the zoo on one of their day’s off. Hippo decides to returns to the zoo and discovers that he may just have the exact skills needed to help the zoo return in style.

Green’s dismal zoo with limp animals quickly turns into an active story about different jobs, wild and wonderful ways to screw them up, visual gags, and plenty of laughs. The ending of the book is entirely satisfying, even as readers realize where it is headed. It is a pleasure to watch it play out visually and see Hippo come into his own with his myriad of skills.

The illustrations in this graphic novel are welcoming and fun. Filled with bright colors and plenty of action, they have a wonderful feel to them. Especially effective are the images done in series with Red Panda and then Hippo trying hat after hat and job after job. The entire book is filled with a jolly humor.

Funny and lighthearted, this book also has a cheerful depth to it which is immensely satisfying. Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

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.