This graphic novel is so much fun! Who couldn’t like a story about a girl from a family of supervillains who just wants to be a hero.
Donut (middle name: The, last name: Destroyer) lives in a world where everyone is born with superpowers. You just have to decide how to use them – good or evil. Donut’s parents are two of the biggest supervillains ever but Donut has decided she doesn’t want to be a villain. Her best friend Ivy has been planning their supervillain careers for years so it comes as a shock that Donut wants to switch to the dark side. When Donut gets accepted to Lionheart Academy (the first step on her road to become a superhero) Ivy tries anything she can to get Donut kicked out. However, Donut’s new hero friends are by her side and will use their powers to fight evil.
I love Sarah Graley’s illustrations. One minute her characters look super cute, with their faces bursting with glee and the next they’re all angry, with scrunched up faces that are on the verge of exploding. Donut is a really cool character who stands up for herself and what she wants to do with her life, even in the face of her ex-best friend and her super-villain parents who want her to be super evil. My favourite characters are Donut’s parents. They made me laugh every time they popped up because they’re super supportive but committed to being supervillains.
Donut the Destroyer is going to fly off the shelves and be incredibly popular with kids.
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.
Fans of Raina Telgemeier and Shannon Hale rejoice! Lucy Knisley, creator of graphic memoirs about her adult life, turns her pencil to her childhood. Stepping Stones is based on Lucy’s experiences as a kid, moving from the city to the country and having to get used to a new family and a new life.
Jen didn’t want to leave the city and move to a farm but, being a kid, she just has to go along for the ride. She has to get used to her mum’s new boyfriend and sort-of step-sisters. Walter doesn’t understand her and keeps calling her Jenny (which infuriates her) and the older sister is smarter than her so she feels inferior. Every weekend the sisters come to stay and her family goes to the market. Things aren’t going back to the way they used to be so Jen has to figure out how to get along with everyone.
I loved Stepping Stones and I know kids will too. The story is relatable and is perfect for anyone from age 7+. This is going to be super popular.
Dragon Hoops was such a great read! I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would and I learnt so much. Not only is it the story of Gene Luen Yang following the season of the varsity basketball team at the high school where he works, it’s also a history of basketball (including the racism and sexism that led to changes in the sport). Gene gives back story to the coach and players in the Bishop O’Dowd Dragons, which gives some really interesting insight in to basketball in China and the Sikh religion.
The art is fantastic, especially the action of the games, where the characters are moving through the court or flowing towards the hoop. The difference between the past and present is very clear with the difference in colours and tones. It also has the coolest cover that looks and feels like a basketball.
It’s aimed at teens and adults but it would be a great addition to an intermediate school, especially if you’ve got basketball fans. I highly recommend it!
Go With the Flow is another really important graphic novel that encourages discussion. It encourages readers to talk about menstruation, a topic that has historically had a stigma attached to it. The story shows how important it is to talk about periods and to have proper support for those who menstruate, including making sanitary products readily available.
The story follows Sasha, the new girl at school, who unexpectedly has her first period at school. She is unprepared and gets mocked by other students, her call her Bloody Mary. Luckily for Sasha, not everyone is horrible and Abby, Brit and Christine come to her rescue. The friends bond over their period experiences and set out to make a change in their school. Abby writes a blog about menstruation called The Mean Magenta, and it’s through her posts that her fight for menstrual products in her school becomes a much wider issue.
This story works so well as a graphic novel because some of the impact comes from the visuals, especially Abby’s exhibition. The colour palette the creators have used is various shades of red, which matches the subject matter of the story. It’s not just the story that is fantastic though, the creators also give more information at the back of the book about periods and what is and isn’t normal, and how to be a period activist.
It’s aimed at teens but I’m going to purchase it for my Year 7/8s as I know some of them would enjoy it.
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.
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.
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.
All you have to do to enter is email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject ‘Smile,’ along with your name and address. I will draw a winner at random. Competition closes Friday 30 September (NZ only).
Aaron Blabey writes very funny picture books. His picture books about Pig the Pug and Thelma the Unicorn are hilarious and are some of my favourite picture books. I was excited when I heard that Aaron Blabey was going to be publishing a series of books for older children, called The Bad Guys. The first book in the series, Episode One, is out now and it is absolutely brilliant!
They sound like the Bad Guys, they look like the Bad Guys . . . and they even smell like the Bad Guys. But Mr Wolf, Mr Piranha, Mr Snake and Mr Shark are about to change all of that! Mr Wolf has a daring plan for the Bad Guys’ first good mission. The gang are going to break 200 dogs out of the Maximum Security City Dog Pound. Will Operation Dog Pound go smoothly? Will the Bad Guys become the Good Guys? And will Mr Snake please spit out Mr Piranha?
The Bad Guys: Episode One is a short, witty and incredibly funny book that will have you laughing out loud. It’s the sort of book that makes you laugh all the way through. The humour works on different levels so – there is lots to make younger kids laugh but adults will get some jokes that kids might not.
The story focuses on a group of animals who are always thought of as bad guys – Mr Wolf, Mr Snake, Mr Piranha and Mr Shark. They get a pretty bad rap, from attempting to eat old women to eating anything and anybody. Mr Wolf is sick of being misunderstood so he calls his friends together and they set out to prove they can be good guys. Their plans never quite seem to go as planned and have hilarious consequences.
There are so many things I love about The Bad Guys! The way that Aaron tells the story draws the reader in, with Mr Wolf speaking directly to the reader at the start of the book. It’s a cross between a graphic novel and a chapter book, with sparse text and funny illustrations, so will appeal to beginner readers right through to older children. I love Aaron Blabey’s illustrations because his characters are so expressive and it’s the combination of these illustrations and the text that make this book so funny.
The Bad Guys begs to be read aloud so grab a copy of Episode 1 and laugh along with your children as you introduce them to the bad guys who just want to be good.
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.
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.