Thursday, September 27, 2012

Graphic novel update

When I start getting busy with other aspects of my job, I often turn to graphic novels to keep me reading fiction.  Otherwise, I’m mostly reading lots of nonfiction or professional resources.

This week I’m highlighting three graphic novels.

Squish, Super Amoeba by Jennifer L Holm & Matthew Holm (823 H732S FIC)
            I’m a big fan of Babymouse, the heroine of another graphic novel series by this sister/brother team that typically appeals to girls in early elementary grades.  Whereas, Babymouse’s books are pink, Squish is neon green.  You see, Squish is an amoeba with some very human-type problems with protozoan twists.  His best friend seems more like a leech than an amoeba since he’s always mooching lunch money off his best buddy.  Peggy is a super-duper perky, cheerful, optimistic, if slightly dim, paramecium who can be super annoying for our hero, Squish.  The point of conflict revolves around Lynwood, a mean, bullying amoeba who’s looking to make Peggy his next meal.  Enter Squish, an aspiring hero who resolves to ‘do the right thing’.  
            This series will appeal to early readers, especially boys.  It’s fast paced, with a likeable protagonist.  The storyline and characters aren’t too complicated and the ending kind of wraps up a little quick but this is a fun book that will work in grades 2 to 4.

Cardboard by Doug TenNapel (823 T256C FIC)
            I’ve enjoyed his other graphic novels (Ghostopolis, Bad Island) mostly because of the illustration style, which is high-end with full, coloured, glossy pages. The interesting premise for this book is cardboard figures coming to life through magic.  Some of the storylines are a little predictable but the story flows along easily as we get to know the relatively uncomplicated characters, an unemployed widowed father who loves his son, the son, Cam a really good kid if a bit na├»ve, Bill, a cardboard figure who is loyal, sweet natured yet protective who yearns to be a fully ‘fleshed’ out character and Marcus, the rich, over indulged bad-boy of the neighbourhood who we just know is looking for trouble (and going to get it).  Again, the action is fast paced and will hold readers’ attention right to the end.  It finishes with a very tidy happy ending.  This will appeal to middle grade readers.

Chopsticks: a novel by Jessica Anthony & Rodrigo Corral (823 An85C FIC)
            This one is for the high school crowd with a penchant for puzzles, digital media, and ambiguous endings.  This ‘scrapbook’, with faded photos, postcards, IMs, ticket stubs, recital programs, TV clips, YouTube links (to be followed by the reader), newspaper clippings, tells the story of Glory, a piano prodigy with a fragile, complicated psyche. It seems to start with loving parents and an interest in music.  After the death of her mother when Glory is around 8, life is much less happy and certain.  We learn that Glory is a very talented pianist, playing sold-out concerts around the world.  We are also privy to a romance with a neighbour, an artistic boy from Argentina who is not liked by Glory’s father.  But things are not as they seem.  We learn that Glory is slipping into a mental crisis.  She begins playing Chopsticks during her concerts until eventually that is all she plays for hours on end.  She is committed (and has been committed several times) to a ‘rest home’.  When the novel starts we learn that she is missing and at the end, it is left up to the reader to decide what has happened to Glory and what parts of the story are real.   This very interesting visual narrative will take more than one reading.


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