Monday, March 17, 2014

Graphic novel roundup- on the lighter side, mostly

Hopefully, I've something for everyone with this roundup.

Also, I noticed that most of my recommendations lean slightly to the lighter side which I attribute to the more typical spring-like temperatures.  In true Canadian fashion, my outlook is connected closely to the weather.  Come on, Spring!

For the youngest crowd (grade 1-3), there’s Binky Takes Charge by Ashley Spires.  This is my second encounter with Binky, the cat with super-hero aspirations and intentions for saving humans from alien bugs from outer space.  In this encounter, Binky has been given the assignment of training a new recruit who turns out to be of questionable character and ability.  Besides being (gasp!) a dog part of a new ‘diversity initiative’ to accept all cadets regardless of species, Binky suspects a traitor.  And Gordon is all dog.  Chewing on everything, peeing at inappropriate times and just being a general nuisance Gordon does turn out to have some amazing abilities. He’s a technological genius who steps in at a critical moment to help save the day against marauding alien insects. 

This one is lots of fun playing on the differing and stereotypical natures of cats and dogs.  The illustrations are cleverly done and easy to follow for early readers.   I look forward to Binky’s next adventure.

Monster On the Hill by Rob Harrell is another fun romp that takes place in a 1860s fantasy world where being terrorized by monsters is a money-making venture for every village which has a monster.  Unfortunately, not all monsters are created equal (or at least as terrifying as the next) and the monster of the village of Stoker-On-Avon is experiencing a crisis in self-confidence.  What could be worse than a monster that doesn't even show up?  Town fathers decide that the only course of action is to send the discredited Doc Charles Wilkie to ‘fix’ him.  Reluctantly, Doc approaches Rayburn, a self-labelled lame monster to discover that what he needs is a refresher on how to ‘be’ a monster.  A neighbouring, successful monster, Tentaculor (aka Noodles) a long-time friend of Rayburn, becomes his tutor. Silly antics and adventure ensues as well as a big battle with a truly terrifying monster known as Murk.

The humour is perfectly captured in the illustrations with plenty of colour and cartoony action.

For the next level, grades 9 and up I’m recommending Will & Whit by Laura Lee Gulledge.  Even though the tone of this graphic novel is not really humorous there is a breeziness to it that really appealed to me considering some the heavy storylines.  Will (short for Wilhelmina) is a high school student dealing with some fairly significant issues.  She’ll graduate soon and is figuring out what comes next.  There is an even bigger issue, the death of her parents that gradually unfolds and resolves itself over the course of the book.  Friends and hurricane Whitney (or Whit) help Will come to terms with where her life is at.  The love that supports Will keeps this one from becoming too angst-ridden.  I liked the mysterious shadows that appear every now and again that add atmosphere and helps frame the resolution of the story.

Black and white illustrations work well for this graphic novel especially with the connection to storms, grief and shadows.  This was just a pleasure to read.


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