All Summer Long
by Hope Larson
and illustrated by Hope Larson Published by Farrar Straus & Giroux
on May 1, 2018 Genres: Contemporary Fiction
, Realistic Fiction Pages:
Paperback Source: Publisher (Mail) Amazon
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A coming-of-age middle-grade graphic novel about summer and friendships, written and illustrated by the Eisner Award–winning and New York Times–bestselling Hope Larson.
Thirteen-year-old Bina has a long summer ahead of her. She and her best friend, Austin, usually do everything together, but he's off to soccer camp for a month, and he's been acting kind of weird lately anyway. So it's up to Bina to see how much fun she can have on her own. At first it's a lot of guitar playing, boredom, and bad TV, but things look up when she finds an unlikely companion in Austin's older sister, who enjoys music just as much as Bina. But then Austin comes home from camp, and he's acting even weirder than when he left. How Bina and Austin rise above their growing pains and reestablish their friendship and respect for their differences makes for a touching and funny coming-of-age story.
I’ve started developing interest in graphic novels over the last few years, which was a major surprise to me because I’ve always overlooked them. More and more have been trickling in from various publishers, and I’m really seeing the graphic novel format take off, especially for younger readers. I thought All Summer Long sounded like a fun, light read and was excited to dig in. Sadly, there just wasn’t enough substance for me and it felt much younger than I would have liked.
I enjoy coming-of-age stories, but I don’t feel like All Summer Long was a good example of one. I suppose the characters go through some changes, but they felt more like normal kid changes than coming-of-age. When a story is described as a “coming-of-age story”, you expect some major growth. Bina is 13, and she’s spending her summer alone while her best friend, Austin, is at summer camp. She spends the summer playing/listening to music, and hanging out with Austin’s older sister. She gets to babysit and go to a concert and deal with all the normal kid drama: fights, heightened emotions, and overreactions. At the end, she seemed to be pretty much the same person she was in the beginning. The story was very, very simple and the characters seemed like cardboard cutouts. There just wasn’t anything grabbing me and sucking me in.
I know I’m the wrong demographic, but I work with kids who are about this age. Actually, my kids are about a year younger and they don’t talk like these characters. They don’t use the word “bae” or say “like” every other word. I feel like the author tried to write for tweens and young teens, but without a real understanding of what those kids are like today. These kids seemed younger than mine until they said “bae”, which people my age (late 20’s, early 30’s) were already saying when these kids were toddlers. It just felt really unrealistic to me.
The illustrations were fun, but too stylized for me. The proportions were off and there were inconsistencies in the looks of the characters from page to page. Sometimes I had a hard time telling some of the secondary characters apart. It was easy to read and the boxes flowed in a nice way. I rarely read sections out of order because I didn’t know which box came first, which has happened to me in other graphic novels I’ve read.
All in all, this one just didn’t work for me. I shut the book and immediately wrote my review because I’m not even sure I’ll be able to remember it. I would choose to recommend other graphic novels over this one.
The Little Red Wolf
by Amélie Fléchais Published by Lion Forge
on October 3, 2017 Genres: Fairy Tale
, Retelling Pages:
eARC Source: Publisher (Netgalley) Amazon
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Lose yourself in in the dark forests of Amelie Flechais' spectacular artwork. A young wolf, on a journey to bring his grandmother a rabbit, is charmed by the nice little girl who offers to help him... but nice is not the same as good. A haunting fairy tale for children and adults alike.
This is a French retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, which was published in 2014 and has now been translated into English. In this version of the story we have the Little Red Wolf, who lives in the beautiful forest with his family. He has been taught to fear humans, and to not go into the forest of dead wood in order to avoid the vile hunter and his daughter. One day his mother sends the Little Red Wolf to his grandmother’s house to bring her a freshly killed rabbit. But the little wolf gets hungry on his way and ends up eating the entire thing! Plus he gets lost. A very pretty and sweet little girl offers to help him, but lures him into a rather dangerous and scary situation. The storytelling is like an old fashioned fairytale, with dark, humorous, and sweet elements. The writing style is magical, and very flowing. I really enjoyed reading it.
I absolutely love the illustrations in this graphic novel. They are beautiful! And the Little Red Wolf is absolutely adorable.
As I said before, the Little Red Wolf ends up in a pretty scary situation. Things get dark and the illustrations get a little scarier. I probably would not recommend it to younger children. But I honestly loved the magical storytelling, beautiful illustrations, and different spin on the traditional fairy tale.
by Shannon Hale Published by Bloomsbury Children's
on August 5, 2008 Genres: Retelling Pages:
Hardcover Source: Library Amazon
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Once upon a time, in a land you only think you know, lived a little girl and her mother . . . or the woman she thought was her mother.
Every day, when the little girl played in her pretty garden, she grew more curious about what lay on the other side of the garden wall . . . a rather enormous garden wall.
And every year, as she grew older, things seemed weirder and weirder, until the day she finally climbed to the top of the wall and looked over into the mines and desert beyond.
Newbery Honor-winning author Shannon Hale teams up with husband Dean Hale and brilliant artist Nathan Hale (no relation) to bring readers a swashbuckling and hilarious twist on the classic story as you've never seen it before. Watch as Rapunzel and her amazing hair team up with Jack (of beanstalk fame) to gallop around the wild and western landscape, changing lives, righting wrongs, and bringing joy to every soul they encounter.
Here we have a wild western retelling of the classic Rapunzel. Rapunzel lives in a walled-up city with her mother, Gothel, before climbing the wall and realizing how horrible things are on the outside. She also discovers that Gothel is not her real mother and goes on an adventure with a man named Jack to try and free the people of Gothel’s evil magic.
This story has a lot of elements that are the same as the original Rapunzel. Rapunzel was taken from her parents because the stole Gothel’s lettuce, Rapunzel has very long hair that she uses to her benefit, there is a handsome man along for the ride, and she is thrown into an isolated tower. In this version, though, her mother his been imprisoned, and the story takes place in the Wild West. Rapunzel is very feisty and brave, whereas most renditions depict her as a helpless, naïve girl who can’t take care of herself and does not understand the concept of evil. She goes up against gun carrying vigilantes, thieves, monsters, and scary situations. This time the man sits in the back seat and has to be saved. I loved seeing a fairytale heroine with a brain, who can hold her own and get things done. The illustrations are very well done and are infused with color, perspective, and a ton of detail. Children who enjoyed the original story of Rapunzel or Disney’s Tangled will enjoy this fractured version of the tale.
The Tea Dragon Society
by Katie O'Neill Published by Oni Press
on October 31, 2017 Genres: Fantasy Pages:
eARC Source: Publisher (Netgalley) Amazon
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From the award-winning author of Princess Princess Ever Aftercomes The Tea Dragon Society, a charming all-ages book that follows the story of Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, and the people she meets as she becomes entwined in the enchanting world of tea dragons.
After discovering a lost tea dragon in the marketplace, Greta learns about the dying art form of tea dragon care-taking from the kind tea shop owners, Hesekiel and Erik. As she befriends them and their shy ward, Minette, Greta sees how the craft enriches their lives—and eventually her own.
This was such a cute, magical little graphic novel! I really loved it. Tea dragons are little dragons whose horns store the memories of their time together with their owners, whom they love very much. Those horns grow tea leaves, which can be cut off and brewed into very high quality tea. When a person drinks this tea, they receive a vision of a memory of that tea dragon’s owner. Greta is a blacksmith and finds a lost tea dragon wandering through the market. When she returns this tea dragon to its owner she is offered the opportunity to learn the art of raising tea dragons and brewing their tea. She makes three new friends and they form a loving bond as their raise their tea dragons together. When Greta drinks some of the tea we get to see how the group formed and learn more about the pasts of these characters.
The story is divided up into four chapters: one for each season of the year. It’s is simple, but very sweet and great for all ages. It felt like a warm blanket. And the illustrations are to die for. The colors are beautiful, and everything is so cute! I’ve clipped a few of my favorite illustrations so you can see what I mean. The dragons are particularly adorable, and they are all named after common teas: Jasmine, Chamomile, Roobios, etc.
This image is one of the visions/memories that comes from drinking some tea.
All in all, I don’t have one complaint! This graphic novel was a joy to read. I loved the magical storytelling, unique story elements, the sweet characters, the adorable little tea dragons, and the moral of the story, which is to surround yourself with people you love and to cultivate the talents you’re passionate about. I would most definitely recommend this to readers of all ages who are looking for beautiful illustrations and a timeless, sweet, and light feel-good story.
Wires and Nerve
by Marissa Meyer
and illustrated by Douglas Holgate Series: Wires and Nerve #1 Published by Feiwel and Friends
on January 31, 2017 Genres: Science Fiction Pages:
Hardcover Source: Publisher (Mail) Amazon
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When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers' leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. With appearances by Cinder and the rest of the Rampion crew, this is a must-have for fans of the series.
I’m a major lover of The Lunar Chronicles and was pretty sad when it was all over. So OF COURSE I was over the moon when I learned about the graphic novels. Anything to get me back in that world!
I kind of knew this would happen, but the story was much simpler that the full length novels. Not as much happened, but I was ok with it because I was back with my favorite characters! I was just so happy to see them, and see them I finally did. Truth be told, I don’t enjoy seeing illustrations of beloved characters because they never look like they do in my head. In this case, though, Iko looked exactly as I pictured, so that was fun! Wolf was a little over the top wolfy for my taste (I never pictured him as such a big hulking, scruffy wolf), but I recognized everyone! It was a pleasant surprise. And I really loved the artwork! I’ve never been much of a fan of the comic book style illustrations, but I like Holgate’s work a lot.
There were lots of cute moments with all our characters, set against Iko’s wolf-hybrid soldier hunting storyline. Cress gets a cold and Thorne has to take care of her. Scarlet and Wolf are on their farm in France, so I we don’t get to see as much of them as I would have liked. Winter is the ambassador to Earth, and it was fun to see her in such a powerful position since we met her when she was pretty useless and imprisoned by her mind. I loved seeing her strength in this graphic novel. Cinder and Kai have never been my favorite couple in this series (they’re actually my least favorite, which is nuts), but it was fun to see what Cinder is up to now that she’s ruling things. Iko’s got a little thing going on with Kinney, Cinder’s royal guard, which I love. I hope she finds love, too!
All in all, this was so much fun an exactly what I needed after still being so hungover after Winter. I love this world and these characters, and I loved being there with them again. A must-have for fans of the series. I can’t wait for the next volume!
by Noelle Stevenson Published by HarperCollins
on May 12, 2015 Genres: Fantasy
, Graphic Novel Pages:
Hardcover Source: Gift Amazon
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Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel is perfect for the legions of fans of the web comic and is sure to win Noelle many new ones.
Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren't the heroes everyone thinks they are.
But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona's powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.
I’d never ever been interested in graphic novels. Sadly, I fell prey to the assumptions that come with the word “graphic”. Instead of pictorial representations of stories, I was thinking “graphic” in the negative context, so I never felt inclined to pick one up. I was also convinced that there was no way I’d be reading an actual story with any depth to it. I’ve always assumed that stories took back seats to the illustrations as far as graphic novels are concerned. I’d been seeing so many friends fall in love with spunky heroine Nimona, however, that I decided I’d trust them and give it a go! Nimona may have been my first graphic novel, but it certainly will not be my last!
Nimona was a fast and entertaining read. I really liked the illustrations for the most part, and Nimona’s snarky, take-no-crap attitude was very refreshing and also hilarious. I liked her a lot. The story, which centers on villainous shenanigans, was deep enough that I felt like it was an actual story and not a series of pow!s, bam!s, and zap!s, but not so deep that it was too complicated to illustrate. You can’t expect the amount of depth from a graphic novel that you can from a 500-page fantasy, but I did feel like this story had enough meat to it that it will stick with me.
I’m so glad I gave Nimona a try! I can tell that I will never prefer graphic novels to traditional novels, but it’s so nice to add some variety to my to-be-read list. Sometimes I like something a little fluffier or something that can distract me for a day, and that’s why I’ve come to appreciate graphic novels. It also helps that I’m artsy. lol. I think Nimona was a great gateway graphic novel for me. I enjoyed the characters, the story, the storytelling, the illustrations, and the kind of book I could read very quickly and enjoy over the course of a few hours. It reminded me of watching a movie, and that was very fun for me.