Skydragon #2: Fly Free by Anh Do

A new book by Anh Do is like Christmas in my library. The kids are always excited, whether it’s a new Hot Dog, a Ninja Kid or a Wolf Girl. It has been especially his Wolf Girl series that has hooked the kids at my school, with one teacher reading aloud the first four books to her class last year. That same teacher decided to try Anh’s latest series, Skydragon, with her class this year and they are hooked on this series now. Having just read the first book myself, I can see why. Anh Do certainly knows how to hook readers – lots of action, tension and cliff-hanger endings. I didn’t expect to enjoy this series as much as I did but book I was at the end of the book before I knew it. Luckily it wasn’t too long to wait until book two, Fly Free, which releases this week.

Fly Free picks up straight after the end of book one, so you’re thrown right back into the action again. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry, and Agent Ferris is REALLY angry! Skydragon has evaded him and the National Service, but he’s determined to track her down. Readers are allowed a minute to catch their breath, before Amber is running for her life and trying to hide from the agents. After falling from a tree, Amber injures her ankle, but luckily her insect friends have her back. Amber can’t shake the thought that Firefighter is someone she knows, and she returns to her adopted family in search of answers. It isn’t long though before she is on the run again. While the National Service are tracking down Amber, Reggie (also known as the Firefighter) is being forced to carry out dubious missions for Agent Ferris. Skydragon and Firefighter’s paths cross but will they discover the truth about each other?

Fly Free keeps you on the edge of your seat, wondering whether Amber and her insect friends will defeat the bad guys. The story jumps between Amber and Reggie, so we get their different perspectives. The pace of the story is swift, so young readers certainly won’t get bored.

James Hart’s illustrations are a really important part of what makes this series so engaging and appealing. His illustrations are on just about every page and show readers how epic Amber’s powers are. James and the design team have done a fantastic job on the cover for Fly Free too. It will certainly jump off the shelf! I especially love the foil used for the insect wings.

I have kids queuing up to get their hands on Fly Free and I know they won’t be disappointed. This book has another cliffhanger ending, which leaves you desperate for book 3!

Max Meow: Cat Crusader by John Gallagher

Do you know a kid that’s read all of the Dog Man books multiple times? Do you want to keep that reading spark alive by giving them something similar? You need to get your hands on John Gallagher’s meow-tastic new graphic novel series, Max Meow: Cat Crusader.

Max was just an ordinary cat, with a pretty average internet show, until the day that he accidentally eats a piece of space meatball and gets superpowers. His scientist friend Mindy discovered the meatball on her travels in space and brought it back to earth to investigate. Now Max can fly and has super strength, so he becomes the Cat Crusader and protects Kittyopolis. Agent M, Reggie and their boss, Big Boss, want to get their hands on Mindy and her space meatball so it’s up to Max to figure out this superhero thing and save the day. Oh, and stop the giant mini-golf monsters while he’s at it!

Meow-za! Max Meow: Cat Crusader is a super fun, action-packed read that will have kids and adults begging for more. There’s something in this book for everyone – superpowers, cats, villains, a robot with daddy issues, monsters, cliff-hanger endings and laughs galore. I had to read this over just two nights to my 5 year old daughter because she couldn’t stand waiting to know what happened in the next chapter. John Gallagher sets that up perfectly by ending each chapter with questions, like ‘WHAT will Mindy show Max? WHY is there a floating whale in Mindy’s lab?’ It’s one of the first graphic novels I’ve read aloud and it works so well. We giggled along together and each picked up different things in the illustrations.

John’s illustrations have heaps of kid appeal. They’re bright, colourful, and full of action and expression. John hasn’t let himself be constricted by the panels, as the action and characters often flow through or burst into other panels, and even right off the page.

The humour works on lots of different levels too. John uses puns in the text and there are plenty of visual gags. There are jokes for the kids and jokes for the adults. I especially enjoyed the character of Cody the dog, who doesn’t say anything but always gives a thumbs up. I also really like Reggie the robot who can’t seem to stop referring to Agent M as Daddy.

Max Meow: Cat Crusader is a must-have graphic novel for all primary and intermediate school libraries. It will be snapped up straight away and it’s popularity will spread like wildfire. Kids will be begging for the next book in the series, which is due out here in NZ in July. My daughter and I can’t wait for Max Meow: Donuts and Danger!

Pizazz by Sophy Henn

If you could have a superpower what would you choose? Laser eyes? Invisibility? Ice breath? Pizazz wishes she had a superpower that exciting but hers is just rubbish (or so she thinks). Sophy Henn introduces us to Pizazz and her super family in the first book in her new series.

Pizazz is a superhero in a family of superheroes. You would think that her life would be pretty awesome but, most of the time, Pizazz thinks it is super annoying. She has to wear the same outfit all the time and she has to keep dashing off to save the world, even if she’s in the middle of something important. Her friends used to understand how chaotic her life is but Pizazz has just moved house and schools. Being a superhero and trying to fit in really don’t go together. When she gets assigned as an eco monitor at school Pizazz thinks it is a bit lame until she realises this is her chance to save the world in a different way. If only horrible supervillains would stop trying to take over the world!

Pizazz is the hilarious, action-packed debut of the next superhero franchise you’ll get obsessed with. Pizazz has to deal with normal kid stuff like an annoying family, mean kids and making friends, but she also has to save the world from super-powered lasers and high-tech tank prams.

The book is jam-packed with Sophy’s fantastic black and white illustrations. There are plenty of super stares, super poses and super costumes. The thing I loved most about the illustrations are the parts where Pizazz and her family have to fight a villain. These parts look like a classic superhero comic.

I love Pizazz and all of her crazy family! They all have different superpowers, including Pizazz (although she doesn’t want us to know what it is). Her dog, Wanda, isn’t a normal dog either. She receives and transmits messages and keeps an eye on the family. My favourite character is Gramps, because he farts fireballs if he laughs too much. Sophy’s supervillains are brilliant too. There’s a giant baby called Googoo who fires toys from his tank shaped like a pram, Twerknado who uses his twerk power for destructive purposes, and pukey villain Megavom.

Pizazz is perfect for ages 7+. It’s a guaranteed great read for all kids. If you haven’t read Sophy’s previous series, Bad Nana, I highly recommend this too.

Donut the Destroyer by Sarah Graley and Stef Purenins

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.

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Super Finn!

Finn Marsh is just an ordinary kid who’s not very good at most things.  When his class has to do a homework assignment about what they’d like to be when they grow up, Finn decides he’d like to be a superhero.  But to be a superhero there are a few things you need, like superpowers, a nemesis, a costume, and you need to save someone’s life.  To finish his homework Finn needs to become Super Finn and, with the help of his friend Brain, he must figure out what it takes to be a superhero.  When Finn’s mum tells him and his brother that they can’t afford to sponsor their World Vision child, Umbaba anymore, Finn realizes that it’s up to him to raise the money to save him.  After their experiments to try and get super-strength and night-vision powers don’t go as planned, Finn and Brain turn to doing dares for money and running a black market junk food business during their lunch break to raise money to help sponsor Umbaba.  Are their crazy schemes enough to help save Umbaba’s life and become a superhero?

Super Finn is the funniest book I’ve read in a long time.  Finn and Brain are cool characters and you might even have kids like them in your class.  The things that they get up to are hilarious and one part of the book, when Finn is in assembly with bags of lollies strapped to his body, made me crack up laughing.  I loved the character of Finn because even though he keeps getting in trouble he doesn’t give up his mission to help Umbaba. Super Finn is Leonie Agnew’s first book and I can’t wait to read what she writes next.  Recommended for 7+     10 out of 10