Category Archives: graphic novel

Brobot by James Foley

 

I absolutely love the Bad Guys books by Aaron Blabey.  For a while now I’ve been looking for something else to suggest to kids that is similar to the Bad Guys, both in the way that the story is told and the humour.  I’ve found the perfect book in James Foley’s new junior graphic novel, Brobot.

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Sally Tinker makes machines … and Joe Tinker breaks them. As the world’s foremost inventor under the age of twelve, Sally knows she can build a better brother than Joe. But is her invention – Brobot – really all that a brother should be?

Brobot is a hilarious junior graphic novel about a girl and her search for the perfect brother.  There is something in this book for everyone – annoying brothers who destroy everything, inventions, robots, toxic nappies, destruction and a whole lot of laughs. I’m sure a lot of kids will relate to Sally and her problems with her annoying little brother.

I loved James Foley’s previous book, My Dead Bunny (with Sigi Cohen) and I’ve been following the development of Brobot for a while, so it’s great to finally read it.  The story is really funny by itself but the comic illustrations add to the laughs.  Sally’s human brother Joe doesn’t even say anything and he still makes you laugh.  The facial expressions of Sally and Joe are enough to make you crack up sometimes.  I especially love Sally’s name, which she shortens to S. Tinker Inc.

Although it’s a graphic novel it’s a chapter book format so I’ll be shelving it with my younger fiction, just like the Bad Guys series.

Brobot is perfect for anyone who likes Aaron Blabey, Kyle Mewburn or just a really funny read.

Check out this great book trailer for Brobot too:

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Win a signed copy of Smile by Raina Telgemeier

It’s been a bit quiet on My Best Friends Are Book lately as I’ve been settling in to my new role as a school librarian.  I’m catching up on books I’ve missed and I’ll try and post lots over the school holidays.  Anyway, here is an exciting new competition for you!

I got to attend the IBBY Congress in Auckland last month and one of the authors that I met was graphic novelist Raina Telgemeier.  Raina is the creator of such awesome graphic novels as Smile, Sisters and Drama, and she has also adapted some of The Babysitters Club stories into graphic novels.  While at IBBY I got a copy of Smile signed (and doodled in) by Raina to give away on the blog.

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All you have to do to enter is email bestfriendsrbooks@gmail.com with the subject ‘Smile,’ along with your name and address.  I will draw a winner at random.  Competition closes Friday 30 September (NZ only).

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Twisted Journeys – the graphic novels that you control

I’m always on the lookout for new graphic novels for kids.  Walker Books Australia recently highlighted a fantastic graphic novel series that they distribute called Twisted Journeys that are perfect for middle and upper primary.

These brilliant books are a cross between a graphic novel and a choose-your-own adventure.  The story is told with a mix of plain text and graphic novel panels, and like choose-your-own adventure stories, there are several directions that the story can go in.  The first book in the series is called Captured by Pirates, and depending on your choices you could rescue your father and live happily ever after or get eaten by cannibals.

There are 22 different stories to choose from including being trapped in a haunted house, caught in a time machine, escaping a zombie island, defeating an evil mastermind, becoming a martial arts master, or join forces with Frankestein’s monster to solve a crime.

Here are a couple of images from inside two different books:

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Twisted Journeys are perfect for reluctant readers and those who love graphic novels.  They are a great format to get kids hooked on books and there a heaps to choose from.

For more info about each title check out this info sheet from Walker Books  – http://classroom.walkerbooks.com.au/home/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Twisted-Journeys.pdf

 

 

 

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Reading Matters 2013 – Highlights #5

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My life in comics – Raina Telgemeier

Raina Telgemeier’s session kicked off day two of Reading Matters and it was the perfect way to get everyone in the mood for another day of bookish delights.  Raina started by talking about her influences, which include cartoons from her childhood (Smurfs, Strawberry Shortcake and Scooby Doo), books by Roald Dahl and her favourite book, Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert C. O’Brien.  As a graphic storyteller there are quite a few graphic novels that have influenced her, including  Calvin and Hobbs, For Better or Worse by Lynn Johnston, the Bones graphic novels by Jeff Smith, and Barefoot Gen, a cartoon story of Hiroshima which made her realise that comics could tell powerful stories.

Raina’s first graphic novel, Smile, is a love letter to her home town San Francisco and ’90s fashion.  She says that she ‘wrote this story just to get the memories out if my head.’ Her family members became a huge part of the story (it’s autobiographical) and they love being cartoon characters.  Every character in the story has a route in a real person.  It seems to have really struck a chord with her readers as she has heard from lots of boys and girls who have been with something very similar.  Raina wishes that she could ‘go back in time and tell her 12 year old self that it would be OK.’

Drama was inspired by her time as a theatre nut.  It includes ‘stage fright, annoying brothers, mean girls, cute boys, school dances and bubble tea.’

Raina took us through the different stages of putting a graphic novel together.  First, she creates thumbnail sketches of each page, in which she decides where characters will stand and where the action will take place.  Next, she does the penciling (where she spends more time on the artwork), inking (using a watercolour brush and ink), digitization, colouring, cover design, and the mock-up of the final jacket.

I loved Raina’s explanation of why she creates graphic novels, ‘I wanted to see myself, my friends and family, in comics.’ She believes that ‘kids need role models of kids who are just good people.’ I wholeheartedly agree with this!

Raina’s next book is a companion to Smile, called Sisters (coming in 2014), which will be stories about Raina and her sister.

Check out some photos of Raina’s live drawing that she did while answering questions from the audience. So cool!

 

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Cardboard by Doug TenNapel

I’m a picky graphic novel reader.  Like picture books, it’s the illustrations that catch my eye and then I’ll see what the story is about.  There are a couple of graphic novel creators whose books I’ll grab whenever they’ve got something new coming out.  The first is Garen Ewing, the creator of the Rainbow Orchid graphic novel, because he’s got a style of illustration and story that is similar to Herge’s Tintin.  The second is Doug TenNapel, because his cartoony style really appeals to me and his stories are imaginative and funny.  Doug’s latest graphic novel, Cardboard, is about a down-on-his-luck dad, his son, and the magic cardboard that changes their life.

Cam’s down-and-out father gives him a cardboard box for his birthday and he knows it’s the worst present ever. To make the best of a bad situation, they bend the cardboard into a man– and to their astonishment, it comes magically to life. But the neighborhood jerk, Marcus, warps the powerful cardboard into his own evil creations that threaten to destroy them all!

Cardboard is a fantastic story, filled with imagination, adventure, humour, and cardboard creations of all sorts.  One of the reasons I love Doug’s work is because he creates such original stories and Cardboard is no exception.  He’s taken the idea of a father building something out of cardboard with his son and thought ‘what if?’  My dad used to make awesome cardboard creations with me and my siblings when I was younger (the best being a full Batman mask) so I can totally imagine what it would have been like to have had magic cardboard.  I think that’s why this story works so well, because every kid (or adult) can imagine it happening.

The thing that really draws me to Doug’s graphic novels are his illustrations, which are fantastic.  Doug’s style is quite cartoony and reminds me of some of my favourite cartoons that I watched as a kid.  His characters have very expressive faces, particularly their eyes. Doug’s imagination has run wild and he’s created some weird and wonderful cardboard creations, some of which go out of control.  Der-Shing Helmer has done a wonderful job of the colouring, making the illustrations vibrant and bold.  I especially love the front cover.  It really jumps out at you and makes you want to read the book so you can find out who the giant eyes belong to.

Cardboard and Doug’s other graphic novels, Ghostopolis and Bad Island are perfect for ages 9+, especially boys, who want a great story.  They are ideal for those kids who have moved on from Asterix and Tintin or for reluctant readers.

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The Sleepwalkers by Viviane Schwarz

Do you have a bad dream that will not go away?
Are you afraid to sleep at night?
Call the Sleepwalkers!
Write us a letter, put it under your pillow…and we will come a save you!
Have a good night!

It is almost time for the old and tired Sleepwalkers to return to the waking world. But before they go, they must conjure and train three new replacements. For who else will look after the Sleepwalking House and be there to answer the call of a child frozen stiff with fear, trapped in a nightmare? This is the story of the NEW Sleepwalkers.

I’m a huge fan of Viviane Schwarz’ books (There Are Cats in This Book, Cheese Belongs to You) so you can imagine how excited I was when I read on Twitter that she was working on her very first graphic novel.

The Sleepwalkers is a unique and delightfully strange story about a group of creatures who protect children while they sleep.  The Sleepwalkers are conjured from socks, a bedspread and even a quill and are tasked with saving children from their nightmares and bad dreams.  When they are created, they find themselves in the Safe House, a many-roomed house that exists in the world of dreams.  They leave the Safe House when they are needed and return here after they have completed their mission.  When the Sleepwalkers meet the children they are having a nightmare (being chased by rats or falling from the sky), and it is the job of the Sleepwalkers to help them overcome their fears.  A nightmare about falling from the sky turns into a dream about flying on the backs of dinosaurs.  The story is weird and wonderful, and it’s filled with action and adventure.

Viviane’s style of illustration translates well to this graphic novel format and she lets her imagination run wild in the dream world.  One of the reasons I like her illustrations so much is the wonderful expressions she gives her characters and this really shines through in The Sleepwalkers.  I love Bonifacius, the bear-like character because he’s got such an expressive face.  There are times in the story where doesn’t talk for a page or two and you can tell exactly how he’s feeling because of these expressions.

My favourite thing about The Sleepwalkers (and the thing that makes this graphic novel really special) is the added extras that Viviane has put in the book.  You can learn how to make a sock monkey and a banana milkshake, and she’s drawn a detailed diagram of the Safe House and the Turtlemobile.

If you know a kid that’s looking for a new and exciting comic of graphic novel, with plenty of action, adventure and a little bit of magic, then grab a copy of The Sleepwalkers.

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My Most Anticipated April New Releases

Maleficent Seven by Derek Landy

This time, the bad guys take the stage. Tanith Low, now possessed by a remnant, recruits a gang of villains – many of whom will be familiar from previous Skulduggery adventures – in order to track down and steal the four God-Killer level weapons that could hurt Darquesse when she eventually emerges. Also on the trail of the weapons is a secret group of Sanctuary sorcerers, and doing his best to keep up and keep Tanith alive is one Mister Ghastly Bespoke. When the villains around her are lying and scheming and plotting, Tanith needs to stay two steps ahead of her teammates and her enemies. After all, she’s got her own double-crosses to plan – and she’s a villain herself…

Department 19: Battle Lines by Will Hill

As the clock ticks remorselessly towards Zero Hour and the return of Dracula, the devastated remnants of Department 19 try to hold back the rising darkness. Jamie Carpenter is training new recruits, trying to prepare them for a fight that appears increasingly futile. Kate Randall is pouring her grief into trying to plug the Department’s final leaks, as Matt Browning races against time to find a cure for vampirism. And on the other side of the world, Larissa Kinley has found a place she feels at home, yet where she makes a startling discovery. Uneasy truces are struck, new dangers emerge on all sides, and relationships are pushed to breaking point. And in the midst of it all, Department 19 faces a new and potentially deadly threat, born out of one of the darkest moments of its own long and bloody history. Zero Hour is coming. And the Battle Lines have been drawn.

Light by Michael Grant

All eyes are on Perdido Beach. The barrier wall is now as clear as glass and life in the FAYZ is visible for the entire outside world to see. Life inside the dome remains a constant battle and the Darkness, away from watchful eyes, grows and grows . The society that Sam and Astrid have struggled so hard to build is about to be shattered for good. It’s the end of the FAYZ. But who will survive to see the light of day?

Sleepwalkers by Viviane Schwarz

When you are afraid to fall asleep, when all your dreams are nightmares, write us a letter, put it under your pillow, we will rescue you… It is almost time for the old and tired Sleepwalkers to return to the waking world. But before they go, they must conjure and train three new replacements. For who else will look after the Sleepwalking House and be there to answer the call of a child frozen stiff with fear, trapped in a nightmare? This is the story of the NEW Sleepwalkers… Filled with action and adventure, and all things that go bump in the night, three brave new heroes tackle the weird and the wild in this uplifting and reassuring story about pulling together as a team and having the confidence to stand up to your fears.

Portraits of Celina by Sue Whiting

Make him pay, Bayley. Make him pay.

“It s as if the wooden chest is luring me, urging me to open it – daring me almost. Open me up. Look inside. Come on, just for a second; it won t hurt.” Celina O Malley was sixteen years old when she disappeared. Now, almost forty years later, Bayley is sleeping in Celina s room, wearing her clothes, hearing her voice. What does Celina want? And who will suffer because of it? A ghost story. A love story. A story of revenge.

Cattra’s Legacy by Anna Mackenzie

Risha is strong and outspoken, and at 16 has developed into a leader of men, a strategic thinker, and a woman — one can imagine — who will assume the legacy left by her mother.

The story begins with 13-year-old Risha living a simple life in the mountains with her father. When her father suddenly dies, Risha is left alone, an outcast of her village. Disguised as a boy, Risha leaves the village with a group of traders, on a quest to find out the truth about her mother and her heritage.

Here begins a grand sweeping adventure as Risha is caught up in dangerous pursuits, intrigue, trickery and betrayal. She is left for dead, confused by the actions of many, and is made to hide from those who wish her harm.

She finds out by chance that she is Cattra’s daughter. Who is Cattra — and why do so many wish Risha harm?

Dead Romantic by C.J. Skuse

Camille wants to find the perfect boy, with an athlete’s body and a poet’s brain. But when she’s rejected at her new college party, she knows there isn’t a boy alive who’ll ever measure up. Enter Zoe, her brilliant but strange best friend, who takes biology homework to a whole new level. She can create Camille’s dream boy, but can she make him love her?

Dead Romantic is a new take on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

W.A.R.P.: The Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Colfer

The reluctant assassin is Riley, a Victorian boy who is suddenly plucked from his own time and whisked into the twenty-first century, accused of murder and on the run.

Riley has been pulled into the FBI’s covert W.A.R.P. operation (Witness Anonymous Relocation Program). He and young FBI Agent Chevie Savano are forced to flee terrifying assassin-for-hire Albert Garrick, who pursues Riley through time and will not stop until he has hunted him down. Barely staying one step ahead, Riley and Chevie must stay alive and stop Garrick returning to his own time with knowledge and power that could change the world forever.

 

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Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel

Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapelis about a boy called Garth Hale who gets accidentally zapped into the ghost world by Frank Gallows, an agent for the Supernatural Immigration Task Force.  Frank has messed up big time and gets fired from his job, but he promises Garth’s mum that he’ll find him in the ghost world and bring him home.  Meanwhile, in the ghost world Garth makes friends with Skinny, a skeleton horse, and a ghost boy who just happens to be his grandpa.   They meet all of the groups that inhabit Ghostopolis, including the Mummies, the Wisps, the Specters, the Zombies, the Boogeymen and the Bone People.  Soon they’re on the run from Vaugner the evil ruler of Ghostopolis, who wants to use Garth’s newly discovered abilities to increase his control of the spirit world.  Will Garth find a way home and will Frank Gallows keep his promise?  Find out in Ghostopolis.

Ghostopolis is a spooky, adventure-filled story with plenty of laughs thrown in.  I really liked Doug TenNapel’s style of illustration because it’s colourful and the panels are not overcrowded with detail.  I particularly like how Doug has presented his characters (Frank Gallows looks worried alot of the time, Vaugner just looks plain evil with his blank eyes and spiky hair, and Garth just looks like an ordinary kid).  If you like graphic novels like Tintin, Asterix or The Rainbow Orchid and want something a little different, you’ll love Ghostopolis.

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