Exactly one month ago the Cybils awards were announced for 2008. My sister and I were thrilled to learn that Rapunzel’s Revenge won the prize for the graphic novel/elementary – middle grade category, but I had also read every graphic novel in the category as part of the Children’s Literature Book Club. I liked several of them and thought I would do a quick review of each one, except for Our review of Rapunzel’s Revenge since that was our first Double Scoop, where my sister and I review books together.
I also suggest that if your looking for some good books to buy and/or give as gifts these would make some great gifts.
There’s a Wolf at the Door: Five Classic Tales by Zoë B. Alley, Illustrated by R.W. Alley
This graphic novel almost was my top pick. Yes even over Rapunzel’s Revenge. Written and illustrated by the wife/husband team of Zoë B. Alley, Illustrated by R.W. Alley. There’s a Wolf at the Door is is five fairy tales that feature ‘The Wolf’ as he attempts to get his meal including The Three Little Pigs, The Boy who Cried Wolf, Little Red Riding Hood, the Wolf in Sheep’s clothing and The Wolf and the Seven Little Goslings. Cleverly written and witty it’s a great read, my daughter and I love this book. It is great with young readers, but I think even older elementary kids would like this book, especially if they like fairy tales.R.W. Alley’s illustrations are fantastic and they complement the text well making you laugh as the poor wolf fails again and again.
Into the Volcano written and illustrated by Don Wood
Two brothers, Duffy and Sumo are sent on a ‘trip’ by their father and pulled out of school to visit relatives on a Hawaiin Island. Of course when they arrive there are some strange things going on and really what is is a trip to locate their mother who is supposedly doing research in Borneo. However, she is underground in a volcano hidden away. Follow these two brothers on an adventure you will not forget.
Now for me this book was okay, I had a hard time keeping the two brothers straight as it is not clear who is who for a while and it took me several trips back to the beginning of the book to figure out who was who. I didn’t like that. I thought that could have been clearer. The storyline did not appeal to me either, but I think though that Don Wood’s illustrations and story plot would appeal to lots of elementary aged kids, especially boys. On the other hand my pre-schooler wasn’t much interested in the book. We didn’t finish it together, so maybe first grade would be better.
Jellaby written and illustrated by Kean Soo
My daughter desperately wanted to read Jellaby since it had a purple dinosaur on the cover. She didn’t make it through this one either, but she did like Kean Soo’s illustrations a lot. Set in Canada, Jellaby is a mysterious creature aka the purple dinosaur that appears in the woods near Portia Bennett’s home. Portia’s mom has secrets and her dad is missing. She decides to help Jellaby return home and along the way she makes new friend of the human variety and scary stranger. That’s where the story ends. You have to read the next book to find out what happens to Portia and Jellaby. I liked the book, the illustrations are done in a purple hue, most of the time except for Portia’s friend Jason who wears an orange shirt with a carrot on it. Apparently Jason likes carrots a lot and so does Kean Soo so they are in the book along with tuna sandwiches. It’s a fun read.
The Savage written by David Almond, Illustrated by Dave McKean
I really liked The Savage. It’s not a light-hearted read because the main character, Blue is learning to cope with grief of losing his father, which as the title suggests brings out the savage in him. Instead of writing down Blue’s feelings as the school counselor, he begins to write a story about a Savage who lives in the woods, who watches Blue and occasionally eats people. Through watching Blue and his younger sister the savage learns to be more human and Blue learns to deal with his grief. Now as far as the illustrations this book is more like a combination of chapter book and graphic novel – not that I’m an expert on graphic novels, but it did seem like a combination of genres. I would recommend this book for older elementary age children or at least read the book with them because of the topic.
Chiggers by written and illustrated by Hope Larson
Abby returns to summer camp only to find her camp best friend is too busy to really spend time with her. Then there is the new girl, Shasta, who is strange. She can’t participate in lots of the activities because well she got hit by lightning. Abby also has her first crush on on the guy counselors and it appears he might just like her back.
I had a hard time with the illustrations just because they were in black and white, which made it harder for me to initially tell who was who. Same thing with black and white movies or shows, sometimes it can be harder to tell who is who when everyone has either white or black hair. I also though this fit better for girls above age10, just because it also deals with periods, crushes, first kisses, and references to dungeons and dragons, etc so probably not for kindergarteners as it would go over their head.