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Wed, May. 24th, 2017, 10:28 am
International Violent Times (31)

THE CRUELTY by Scott Bergstrom
After Gwendolyn's father disappears, she learns the true nature of his work and, with nothing to lose, sets out on an international mission to track him down and save him. It is difficult to believe that Gwen became a skilled fighter in just three weeks, and that her temperament changed from innocence so quickly given her relatively sheltered background,
but overall readers who enjoy fast-paced adventures with a cinematic feel like TAKEN or THE BOURNE IDENTITY will enjoy this first installment. (Feiwel & Friends, 2017)

Mon, May. 22nd, 2017, 10:10 am
A Take on a Bean Stalk (30)

MIGHTY JACK by Ben Hatke
Jack has to watch his younger sister Maddy for the summer while his mom works three jobs, but when the siblings plant packets of strange seeds, Maddy begins to talk for the first time, and creatures begin to grow in the garden,
making the summer more exciting than he had predicted. This interesting take on Jack and the Beanstalk has appealing illustrations, a mysterious and exciting story, and a total cliffhanger ending. Maddy has autism, which adds diversity to this graphic novel, and Jack's conflict at having to care for her feels authentic. A good choice for fantasy readers and tweens seeking a vibrantly colored comic. (First Second, 2016)

Tue, May. 16th, 2017, 09:38 am
Doodlebug Days (29)

INVISIBLE EMMIE by Terri Libenson
Seventh grader Emmie has one best friend, two older siblings off at college, two attentive parents, and extreme shyness in all other situations, so when her love poem to her crush goes public, she fears she will melt into a puddle of slime unlike her classmate Katie who seems to have it all. Inspired by the author's own middle school days, there is much to relate to in Emmie's quest to go unnoticed and to prefer drawing to speaking in class. The illustrations are detailed in unexpected ways and silly in this graphic novel told from two points of view that converge somewhat predictably in the end. ROLLER GIRL and SMILE fans will enjoy this one, too. (Balzer & Bray, 2017)

Sat, May. 13th, 2017, 11:22 am
Elementary School Memoir (28)

REAL FRIENDS Written by Shannon Hale & Illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Shannon, the middle child among five siblings, thinks her elementary school years are set when she and Adrienne become best friends, but when The Group of popular girls lures her away, Shannon tries to find ways to fit in, not be lonely,
and to avoid her oldest sister. The author hits on the complexities of tween friendships very well, and also of sibling rivalries and developments. The emotive illustrations are colorful, the panels are easy to understand, and the whole package will appeal to fans of Raina Telgemeier. A great early graphic memoir. (First Second, 2017)

Thu, May. 11th, 2017, 03:02 pm
Summer Reunion (27)

WILD SWANS by Jessica Spotswood
Ivy's mother left her with her grandfather when she was a baby, but Ivy has come to terms with it and the cursed family legacy that seems to follow her bloodline until her alcoholic mother returns with two more daughters, and her summer is turned upside down in more ways than one. The small beach town setting is well done, and the teen dynamics are realistically portrayed. Some aspects seems to be included simply for lip service, like Ivy's friend's little sister, and some backstory explanations feel tacked on or unnecessary rather than part of the story. But the romance, family, and poetry twist at the end make this a good summer read. (Sourcebooks Fire, 2016)

Thu, May. 11th, 2017, 02:54 pm
Graphic Discovery of Dinosaur Fossils (26)

SCIENCE COMICS: DINOSAURS FOSSILS AND FEATHERS Written by M.K. Reed & Illustrated by Joe Flood
When the Industrial Revolution began and Mesozoic fossils were unearthed, a great race occurred between British scientists to identify and explain dinosaurs. Spanning from the 1800s to present day, this graphic non-fiction volume in the "Get to Know Your Universe -- Science Comics" series is a fantastic spread of facts and blips of humor when the dinosaurs add their own quips. About the early paleontologists as much as the fossils, dinosaur fans will appreciate the new angle this book offers. (First Second, 2016)

Thu, May. 11th, 2017, 02:47 pm
Wilderness Adventure Volume 6 (25)

LUMBERJANES VOLUME 6: SINK OR SWIM Written by Shannon Watters & Kat Leyh and Illustrated by Carey Pietsch
The five girls take on their latest paranormal foes -- selkies and a werebear -- while trying to work as a team for their knot-tying merit badge among portals and whirlpools around their camp. The main characters are expressive and fun,
the premise is funny, and the chapter openings that incorporate pieces of the "Lumberjanes Field Manual" are clever.
A good choice for upper middle grade readers looking for a graphic novel adventure. This volume will mean more if readers start at number one. (Boom! Box, 2017)

Thu, May. 11th, 2017, 02:40 pm
Graphic Zombie Action (24)

HANSEL & GRETEL & ZOMBIES Written by Benjamin Harper & Illustrated by Fernando Cano
Hansel and Gretel's zombie parents need fresh brains, so they send out their children to lure people into their cemetery, but instead they are captured by a witch and the tables may be turned. This installment of the Far Our Fairy Tales series has some dark humor but isn't that much more twisted than the original fairy tale. Cartoony illustrations and an explanation of how to interpret the comic format make this a good choice for young readers starting out on their graphic novel journeys. (Stone Arch Books, 2016)

Tue, May. 9th, 2017, 04:17 pm
Stories Collide (25)

THE YOU I'VE NEVER KNOWN by Ellen Hopkins
Ariel and her dad have moved around since she was two and her mother left them, and now she found the place she wants to stay until high school is over because of her budding feelings for her best friend; Maya is pregnant and living on a military base with her husband, wondering if she should stay because of his drinking and abusive tendencies; as past secrets are revealed and the stories collide, a scary truth about Ariel's history and her father surfaces. Ariel's chapters are in free verse, sometimes revealing two poems in one. Maya's chapters are in journal format in prose.
Both work well for their stories and help differentiate them. The reveal of Ariel's past is easy to guess about halfway through the book, but is still angering and emotional, and the reader learns it is based on an actual experience the author had with her daughter. A moving book with honest look at love and sex. (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2017)

Tue, May. 9th, 2017, 03:59 pm
Australian Drought (24)

THE DRY by Jane Harper
Agent Falk returns to his hometown to attend a funeral after hearing that his childhood best friend Luke murdered his wife, son, and then shot himself, but when Luke's parents ask Falk to investigate further, he finds that the case may not be so cut and dry, and an old missing girl case resurfaces. The Australian setting and its severe drought are a great backdrop for this intense adult mystery novel, where tensions run higher in the heat. The ending to the missing girl case is not my favorite type of info-dump resolution, but the overall story lives up to the hype of the genre. Not for those who cannot stomach reading about the murder of a child. (Flatiron, 2017)

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