Tag Archives: comics

Great Graphic Novels for Primary and Intermediate

I absolutely love graphic novels for kids!  I can’t get enough of them and neither can the kids at my school (especially the girls).  There are more and more great graphic novels being written and produced for kids and there really is something for every sort of kid.  These are a selection of recent reads that have stood out for me.  If you’re looking for some great new reads for your graphic novel collection I highly recommend these ones.

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Sparks! by Ian Boothby and Nina Matsumoto

This is a hilarious story about two cats who do good deeds dressed in a dog suit.  August is a brilliant inventor who is afraid of the outdoors and Charlie is the pilot of the suit and isn’t afraid of anything.  Together they are a sort-of robo-Lassie (along with their sentient litter-box), rescuing a baby from a well and saving people from a burning building.  In to the story comes a strange family with an evil baby whose aim is to control every animal on earth.  It’s up to Sparks to save the day and stop their dastardly plan.

I smiled the whole way through this graphic novel because the humour is spot on.  I could hand this to any kid from Year 4-Year 8 and I’m sure they would love it too.

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The Adventures of Jack Scratch: The Quest for the Hiss-paniola by Craig Phillips.

This action-packed tale of cats on the high-seas started life as a Kick-Starter campaign and I was super excited when it went ahead and I got my copy.  It’s a swash-buckling adventure full of brave, fearsome and some down-right nasty cats.  Like the Tintin graphic novels I grew up with its got plenty of action to keep kids interested and illustrations that they will pore over.  One of the things I love most about graphic novels is that they are perfect for reading again and again and this one will certainly be read to bits.  Perfect for ages 7+

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Cucumber Quest #1: The Donut Kingdom by Gigi D.G.

I can only do this book justice by using the Goodreads blurb so here it is:

What happens when an evil queen gets her hands on an ancient force of destruction?

World domination, obviously.

The seven kingdoms of Dreamside need a legendary hero. Instead, they’ll have to settle for Cucumber, a nerdy magician who just wants to go to school. As destiny would have it, he and his way more heroic sister, Almond, must now seek the Dream Sword, the only weapon powerful enough to defeat Queen Cordelia’s Nightmare Knight.

Can these bunny siblings really save the world in its darkest hour?

Sure, why not?

This is the first book in a new series (that started out as a web comic).  It’s another hilarious story with fantastic characters.  The BLT Trio had me laughing out loud and I hope to see more of them as the series progresses.  The world that the story takes place in reminded me of Adventure Time so any kids who love that will love Cucumber Quest. The kids that I’ve passed this on to have loved it just as much as I did and we all can’t wait for #2 to be available in NZ.  Perfect for ages 10+.

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Anne of Green Gables: a graphic novel, adapted by Mariah Marsden and Brenna Thummler

This is a wonderful new graphic novel adaptation by Mariah Marsden and Brenna Thummler.  It perfectly captures the essence of the story and will hopefully open up the story to a new generation of readers.

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The Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag

The Witch Boy is about 13-year-old Aster who is expected to grow up to be a shapeshifter when he really wants to become a witch.  In his family all the females are witches while all the males are shapeshifters, but Aster has always found witchcraft more exciting.  When some of the males start disappearing and an evil force threatens his family Aster knows that he can help – as a witch.  With the help of his non-magical new friend Charlie, he sets out to help his family using his witchcraft skills.

It is a fantastic story about being different and being who you want to be.  This is another graphic novel that the girls at my school have been gobbling up.  Molly’s illustration style is quite similar to Raina Telgemeier which lots of the kids love.

23594349Clem Hetherington and the Ironwood Race by Jen Breach & Douglas Holgate

A dangerous rally race + archaeology = a whole lot of fun!

Clementine Hetherington and her robot brother, Digory, have run away from the orphanage they’ve been living in since their parents died. Clem and Dig want to follow in their famous archaeologist mother’s footsteps, but no one will take them seriously. Their chance arrives when a man from their past saves Digory’s life, and to repay the debt they enter a multiday rally race… to recover stolen artifacts! Clem and Dig hope to win so they can give them to a museum, but their opponents want to sell them on the black market. The Ironwood Race has no rules, and Clem and Dig might be in over their heads!

This is an ingenious mash-up that I couldn’t get enough of.  Before I knew it I had finished the book and I’m dying for more!  This story is sure to keep even the biggest non-reader engaged.  Those kids who love action-packed movies with great baddies and lots of explosions will love this book too.

 

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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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Make way for the Super Baddies!

Hardie Grant Egmont, the publishers that brought you the Go Girl and Zac Power series, has just released an exciting new graphic novel series for young readers.  Super Baddies is a comic-style series all about heroes and villains, but instead of being all about the goodies, these books are all about the baddies.  The first book, Baddies vs. Goodies introduces you to the characters and the world that they live in.  You meet Giant Boy, Scorcher, Sand Storm, Mean Streak, Frosty, Bad Mads, and my favourite, Piranha Face.  So far there are two books in the series, Baddies vs. Goodies and When Robots Go Bad, but there are more to come and each one focuses on a different Baddie.

They’re a great way to hook readers in to graphic novels, because they’re bright, fun, and easy to read. Simon Swingler’s cartoon-style illustrations will really appeal to young readers.  He doesn’t make the pages too busy, so it’s easy enough for younger children to follow the story.  Those kids that like Zac Power will surely love this series, and they’ll hook those kids that supposedly ‘hate reading.’  The covers are eye-catching and kids will be lining up to get their hands on them.  Baddies vs. Goodies even has the added extra of a super test you can take to figure out if you’re a Baddie or a Goodie.

Meet Scorcher, the Baddie featured in Baddies vs. Goodies:

Go out and grab the Super Baddies series for the little Baddie in your life. Book 1 and 2 are available now.

Enter my competition to win a Super Baddies Prize Pack.

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Big Nate: Here Goes Nothing by Lincoln Peirce

I’m sure you will know children who are crazy about the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books by Jeff Kinney.  Boys in particular love the funny adventures of Greg Heffley, which are a mix of text and comic-style illustrations.  There are quite a few series now that are similar in style to these books, including the very popular Big Nate series by Lincoln Peirce.  So far there are 8 books featuring Big Nate, including two activity books and two books of original Big Nate comic strips.  The latest Big Nate book is Here Goes Nothing, and it’s chock-full of Big Nate comic strips.

In Big Nate: Here Goes Nothing, Nate and his friends get up to all sorts of mischief as usual, like pulling pranks at school, trying to make money by selling photocopies of his artwork, trying to convince his dad to get a dog, blogging about his teacher, and painting his grandparent’s house.  Lincoln Peirce read a lot of Peanuts and Dennis the Menace comic strips growing up and you can see these influences in Big Nate.  My favourite comic strip in the book is the one where Nate and Teddy hear the ice cream truck music, only to run outside and find out it’s the mobile library.  I don’t know why no one has thought of trying that before!

If you know a kid that’s wants to read a book like Diary of a Wimpy Kid or they just like comics, the Big Nate series is perfect.  Big Nate: Here Goes Nothing is available in libraries and book shops in New Zealand now.

Check out this video of Lincoln Peirce talking about Big Nate and drawing his character.

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