Doodleville by Chad Sell

Imagine if all art was alive. Superheroes could move through the pages of a comic, a landscape painting could change depending on the time of day and Mona Lisa’s mood could change. This is a reality in Drew’s world in Chad Sell’s magical new graphic novel, Doodleville

Drew is a doodler and since she was little she has been doodling funny creatures that come alive. All art in Drew’s world is alive and when her Art Club visits the Art Institute she sees how amazing art can be. She sneaks in her own doodles though who create havoc in the paintings, including stealing a baby’s hat from one painting. Drew creates Levi, a dragon-like creature, for her art project but this cute, friendly creature turns dark and starts to hunt the other doodles. As Drew let’s her fear and uncertainty take over Levi wreaks havoc and it’s up to Drew and her friends to stop Levi.

The idea of art coming to life is so cool and Chad certainly makes it feel like his characters are alive and moving. The action of the story moves so smoothly through the illustrations and Chad doesn’t let panels limit how the story flows. I love the character designs as they’re cartoony but have really expressive faces.

My favourite thing about Chad’s stories is the diversity of his characters. In Doodleville, Ameer and Zenobia are black, and it’s possible that Beck and TJ are gender diverse. Zenobia’s doodles are the Magical Butterfly Boyfriends, two princes from warring kingdoms who are in love. It’s great for kids to not only see themselves in graphic novels but also to see other kids who are different from them.

Chad promises readers that this is just the start of Drew’s story so we’ll see more of her and the gang in the next book.

The Theory of Hummingbirds by Michelle Kadarusman

The Theory of Hummingbirds is an uplifting story of a girl who just wants to be normal. Alba is born with a club foot, which she calls Cleo. She has had surgeries to correct Cleo and has had a cast for most of her life. At the start of the story the day that she gets her cast removed permanently is within sight and Alba really wants to be able to run in the school cross country. Her friend Levi is obsessed with space and he comes up with a theory that there is a wormhole in the school librarian’s office. She disappears from a locked room and Levi believes this is the explanation. Alba and Levi have been best friends forever but an argument pushes them apart. At a time when Alba needs her friend the most Levi won’t talk to her. When the day of the cross country arrives Alba is determined to prove that she can complete the course.

I loved Alba’s story. She wants to be ‘normal’ and she’s determined to prove that she can walk properly without crutches. I love her friendship with Levi and their shared love of hummingbirds. I also really love the school librarian character of Ms Sharma. This would make a great read aloud for Years 5-8, especially as it’s a short, engaging read. It’s perfect as a Wonder read-alike too.