Monday, January 26, 2015

Graphic Novels Galore

I seem to have been on a graphic novel kick for the last month or so and found some new standalone books and series. Then there's always keeping up with the sequels to series already underway.

Here are some of my top picks:


Start of a grand adventure for a girl looking to become a monster tamer with a trio of evil monsters hot on her trail looking to retrieve a lost ball of golden, magical twine. Stay tuned - things are just getting good!

For the primary grades. A little girl wakes her baby sister with a great sense of excitement “because it’s Saturday”.  Everything is better on Saturday no matter the weather.  Whatever the circumstance, it’s gonna be a GREAT day!  Talk about a sunny disposition.

‘Wacky’ about covers it.  Really!  The beaver brothers become pitted against a trio of conniving baboons who are trying to fill their swimming pool with stolen melted snow from the mountain the brothers are skiing.

Middle School/Junior High

El Deafo by Cece Bell
Another childhood memoir about a little girl growing up deaf, experiencing regular school, learning (or not learning) sign language and the challenges of making friends.  Offers great perspective.

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier
Autobiographical, describes Raina’s relationship with her sister growing up. A family road trip across the US highlights the family dynamics in a very relatable way. If you've ever had a sibling drive you crazy, this one's for you.
Like this one?  See also Drama and Smile by R.T.

 Nonfiction history about the severe drought in the United States in the 1930s, its causes, agricultural implications and impact of the people who lived through it.  The illustrations are perfect for this with a dust bowl palette of browns, grays, and dirty yellow. Match this one up with Out of the dust by Karen Hess, The Storm in the barn by Matt Phelan, and Migrant mother by Don Nardo.

The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang
I really enjoyed this one for both the story and the history attached to it. Reading the afterward is well worth it. Imagine your mom deciding she wants you to become a superhero and forces to you to learn martial arts and then go out there and kick some evil butt. Obviously, this one has lots of humour with a good story about identity.  I hope there's more coming.

High School

Ms Marvel : Vol. 1, No Normal by G. Willow Wilson
A Muslim girl has a wish granted to become a superhero.  She must be true to herself, live up to her parents’ expectations and save the day, all at the same time. Good for grades 8/9 and up.

Saga, vol 1 by Brian K. Vaughn
An intergalactic Romeo and Juliet – the start of a grand adventure that seems to be introducing some very interesting story lines.  I’m looking forward to volume 2. Just to let you know, there's some sexual content.

Sumo by Thien Pham
A young man’s journey to find himself that takes him to Japan to train and compete as a sumo wrestler. Thoughtful yet easy read. Maybe a good choice for a struggling reader. 

Unwritten (Series) by Mike Carey and Peter Gross
A gripping series that involves a quest, mystery, an evil cabal and the power of stories (literally – how the power of story can change the world).  You need to pay attention to keep on top of the many characters and fast pace action.

Monday, January 19, 2015

God Went to Beauty School Ver.2.0

I’m taking this opportunity to plug a book that I love and have loved for a long time and recommend all the time because a revamped edition came out recently.  Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s a book that gets picked up all that much by student-teachers.

God Went to Beauty School by Cynthia Rylant was originally published in 2003 and has just a major overhaul.  It’s been reissued as God Got a Dog now published with beautiful illustrations by Marla Frazee.  This edition doesn't include all the poems found in the first book, reordering those remaining and with a few pronouns tweaked here and there. Overall, I liked the changes but deep down had hoped that this was going to be a new collection with continuing adventures for God.

This book tells what it would be like if God came to Earth and lived as real men, women or children of various races.  Each of these perspectives is reflected throughout the book to emphasize that God is to be found everywhere and in all of us whether as a lonely woman eating a spaghetti dinner, discovering cable TV for the first time, a teenage boy suffering with a cold or a black man named Jim, who loves to paint nails.

It’s an irreverent often humorous look at the ‘culture shock’ of being human, but also celebrates the many wonders of the world or reflects on the simple moments that compose ordinary lives.

Not being overly religious, I appreciate the breezy, cheeky tone of the book, but I know there will be those out there who will reject it for just that reason.    This God lives among people by living as one of us.  The illustrations are not overly elaborate and compliment the text beautifully with just a touch of lyricism.

Because it’s about God I wonder how teachers would or could use this book as it potentially could be contentious with parents, community, or school boards.  Great for a poetry unit but I worry that it doesn't make it into classrooms all that often.

I recommend this for grades 3 and up.

Some of my favorite lines:

From: God went to the doctor
And the doctor said, "You don't need me, You're God."And God said, "Well, you're pretty good at playing me, I figured you'd know what the problem was.
From: God caught a cold- 
And He was such a baby.  He NEVER caught colds. He loved to brag about it. And now here He was snot nosed. It's hard to be authoritative with a cold.  It's hard to thunder 'THOU SHALT NOT!' when it comes out 'THOU SHALT DOT!'  Nobody takes him seriously. 
From: God made spaghetti
And She didn't have a ceiling so She tried to make it stick to Jupiter but that just vaporized the noodle, so God decided to HAVE FAITH it was cooked al dente.

Monday, January 12, 2015


With the new year here in the Doucette Library comes the quote jar. It's back out on the reference desk and filled with a heap of thoughts from all sorts of people...some famous or infamous, some alive some less so (Where does Homer Simpson fall on this continuum?). Lots of deep thoughts -- supposedly.

If you're local stop by and take one.

And that's how I'll start this year's postings - with an interesting quote from a book I read over the Christmas break.  From Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass, page 157:

He smiles and pats me on the shoulder.  He points to the apple in my hand and says, " A wise man once remarked that we can count how many seeds are in the apple, but not how many apples are in the seed. Do you know what he meant by that?"I shake my head."Before an apple seed is planted, no one will know how many apples will one day sprout from it. It's all about potential, and potential is hidden from all of us until we embrace it, find our purpose, plant ourselves so we can grow.  I am certain you will find what you are looking for, Jeremy.  Many blessings upon your head."

I love the idea of potential, of something that is almost there, of something that could be really brilliant, creative, funny, stimulating, all encompassing, sad, hopefully not disastrous. You get the drift.  And it's using an apple as a metaphor - just like this blog.  Great way to start the year, I'd say.

Looking forward to 2015.  How about you?

I'd recommend the book for middle grades, by-the-way.

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