Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Graphic Novels for Kids - a Partial Round-up

Are you thinking of those rows of nearly identical paperbacks with bewildering names and endless numbers of volumes? Children's graphic novels are a different animal entirely.

Little Lit's Toon Books imprint (a division of RAW Junior) has published an impressive array of graphic novels for beginning and stepping-stone readers. Most are the same size and shape as a classic independent reader, making them easy to shelve in that section if desired - but the format, with comic-book panels and dialogue in bubbles, is graphic through and through.

For the youngest readers, or for toddlers and preschoolers reading with a grown-up, there is Jack and the Box by Art Spiegelman (RAW Junior/TOON Books, 2008). An exception to the usual I.R. shape, this book is short and wide. Jack, a kid-bunny with Little Orphan Annie eyes, receives a jack-in-the-box as a gift. Understandably wary at first, Jack and his new boisterous toy soon make friends. Anyone, young or old, who has had a love-hate relationship with a jack-in-the-box will savor this very silly book.

Geoffrey Hayes' Benny and Penny in Just Pretend (RAW Junior/TOON Books, 2008) is a gently told, gently illustrated tale of sibling irritation. Benny wants to play pirates but is constantly being interrupted by his little sister (dressed in a princess outfit), who wants to play but doesn't demonstrate the correct piratical spirit (she likes to hug). Needless-to-say, by the end they've reached an understanding. Easy enough for beginning readers, pre-readers will enjoy sharing this with their favorite grown-up or older sibling.

A playful variation of the King Midas myth, Otto's Orange Day by Frank Cammuso and Jay Lynch (RAW Junior/TOON Books, 2008) illustrates (literally) that one should be careful what one wishes for. A cat who loves orange learns that a completely orange world means orange lamb chops - bleah! Luckily, a pizza-loving genie sets things right again. Kids in grades K to 2 will enjoy the misadventures of this retro-looking kitty.

Preschoolers and early readers alike will love Stinky by Eleanor Davis (RAW Junior/TOON Books, 2008). A snaggly-toothed, scraggly-haired monster tries to scare off a boy (gasp!) who starts hanging out in his woods, but they eventually become friends. Stinky and his smelly, lumpy pet toad are hugely appealing - this will be a hit. (and strangely enough, the plot slightly resembles that of Bird Lake Moon by Kevin Henkes, reviewed elsewhere in this blog).

Fans of The Incredibles movie and various Nick Jr. cartoons will appreciate Mo and Jo: Fighting Together Forever by Dean Haspiel and Jay Lynch (RAW Junior/Toon Books, 2008). Two siblings with super-powers can barely stop fighting long enough to thwart the evil Saw-Jaw's plan to hijack the hippo balloon from a big parade. Not so full of charm as the previous titles, but action-packed and sure to appeal to kids in grades 1 to 3.

And moving on to graphic novels for older readers, I recommend Coraline (HarperCollins, 2008)for everyone who loved Neil Gaiman's book. Adapted and illustrated by P. Craig Russell, it covers the ground of the original story completely, using detailed, realistic drawings to enrich the reader's enjoyment. Some of the illustrations are seriously creepy, but somehow I found that this version lacks the seething evil and dread of the original book. No matter - there is room for both versions in every library collection.

Flight Explorer volume 1 (Villard Books, 2008) is a compilation of 10 graphic short stories by Kean Soo, Kazu Kibuishi, and other contributors. Some have major cute appeal, some are clever, and a couple fall flat, but as a whole, this collection will entertain kids in grades 2 - 5, and will spark the imaginations of young artists/writers. Created by the folks who gave us the more YA/Adult-oriented Flight series.

Love adorable stuff? Try the "Owly" series (Topshelf) by Andy Runton.

Not yet read but eagerly anticipated by this reviewer:
Amelia Rules! (series) by Jimmy Gownley (Diamond Comic Distributors, 2007)
Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel by Eoin Colfer (Hyperion, 2007)
Amulet/Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi (Graphix, 2008)
Korgi by Christian Slade (Topshelf, 2007)
Jellaby by Kean Soo (Hyperion, 2008)

1 comment:

  1. I am so happy to have stumbled upon your blog and this particular post! I am a new elementary school librarian and there are no graphic novels in the library. I was wondering where to start and had made a couple of contacts but this post will help direct my attention to some specific titles or series!