Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy: A Graphic Novel: A Modern Retelling of Little Women by Rey Terciero and

True confession: I’ve never actually read Little Women! Which is crazy because it sure seems right up my alley when I was a teen (and now.) I have a fond memory of going to see the film version with Winona Ryder on a snowy day in Pittsburgh (I could walk to the movie theater, which I loved.) And I know what happens in it, I just never really read it. Fortunately I know enough to have known what was updated in this modern retelling and see how it worked. I got this for Tabby and she read it first and really liked it. Now that I’ve read it and really liked it I’m thinking it would be fun for us to read the original and then watch the movie. (and there’ll be a new movie soon enough, too.)

Although I felt that the characters retained their essence in this modern version, I found that I liked them better. Sure, Amy is still a brat, but I didn’t think anyone was simpering or drippy. They were a lovely tight knit family. I liked how in this update they are a blended family. I thought that the letters written to their dad were a bit expository, but hey sometimes that happens when you need to get info to the reader.  Tabby and I especially loved the last page, truly making this a new Little Women for our times.

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Terra Tempo: The Four Corners of Time by David Shapiro, Christopher Herndon

This is #2 in the Terra Tempo series, but it was fine that I hadn’t read #1 as they kindly filled me in on everything in a brief intro. This was an enjoyable graphic novel filled with adventure and so much interesting geology and natural history that it almost seemed like a Science Comics at times. At times some of the plot was a little confusing, including how and why a giant bird sometimes saves them, but overall I thought this was good time travel for kids.

New Shoes by Sara Varon

Well this was just delightful. A graphic novel that is almost like a long form picture book? Or maybe not. I read it in one short sitting. The setting is South America and the characters are all animals that do live there in real life. But these animals live in a little village and have jobs and wear clothes and such. Francis is a shoemaker of some high regard and he is thrilled when asked to make shoes for his favorite calypso performer Miss Manatee. Do I love calypso music? No. But every time anyone listened to music in the book and the words were written out you could totally hear them in your head as a calypso song: “mango, banana, & tangerine…sugar & ackee & cocoa bean…”  and it is delightful!  Francis’s friend and supplier is missing and so he has to go into the jungle to look for him. He has quite an adventure and his guidebook really comes in handy. Turns out his friend is in a pickle but all resolves very nicely in a clever and surprising story. One of the nice things about this are all of the accurate details about the animals, plants, fruits, etc. It is such a charming and complete package.

Fake Blood by Whitney Gardner

I’d not even heard of this but my daughter found it at the bookstore and used a Christmas gift card to buy it. She finished it before we’d even been home half an hour from the bookstore and said she loved it and I had to read it. Well, I enjoyed it very much too. I don’t know if 11 year olds will get any of the Buffy or Twilight references, but as a 40something who was a huge Buffy fan I loved it that the librarian was British and named Mr. Niles.
AJ just started middle school and has a crush on a girl he likes, Nia. His friends Hunter and Ivy seem to have no trouble at all adjusting to middle school and are very annoying. AJ knows that Nia likes vampire stories so he starts pretending to be one. At this point I had questions: is this a world where vampires are real? Is everyone play acting? Does he really think Nia will like him better? I just went along for the ride and enjoyed it very much. Stylistically I liked the drawing style and the full colors. The trees and woods made it clear we were in the Pacific Northwest (as does the Powell’s bookstore reference.)
A fun graphic novel.

The Hidden Witch by Molly Ostertag

The Hidden Witch (The Witch Boy #2) Sequel to Witch Boy. This was a good follow up and once again I thought it was so nice how, well nice, the two main characters were. I suppose some people might find it a bit too easy, but I didn’t. I liked it that Sedge–the bad cousin from the first book-opened up about his issues and got a resolution. I loved how kind Charlie (the non witch character) was and nice about making friends with the mysterious new girl.  And I liked how the main story that was left unfinished in Witch Boy was resolved in this sequel. I’d be happy to spend more time in this world Ostertag has created and get to know many more of the characters!

The Divided Earth by Faith Erin Hicks

I couldn’t wait for this trilogy finale to arrive and when it did it took me weeks to getting around to reading it! And not only that, as usual with a trilogy, I couldn’t remember what had happened in books one and two. Given that each book is a not too long graphic novel I really should have read them first (but now I might go back and read all three at once.) I guess it’s a testament to how good these books are that even not fully remembering the backstory I still felt invested in the outcome and still enjoyed the book.
I guess if I were to leave a quick plot summary to help my future self it would be–the final fight for control of the Nameless City?
I thought this book had some particularly good action sequences. I don’t know if elaborate chases and fights are hard to draw, but it sure seems like they would be. After all, static illustrations need to convey running leaping kicking punching jumping wrestling etc. and these totally did.
I also appreciated an epilogue.

Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett Krosoczka

This was just terrific, and sad, and inspirational. Though I know Krosoczka’s work because Lunch Lady is very popular in my library, I haven’t actually read any of his things. Nor have I seen the Ted Talk that inspired this book.  (Pause: start watching the video, it’s touching already.)

Anyway, this was a really great memoir. Jarrett’s grandparents adopted him as a toddler because his mother was a heroin addict who was either in jail or rehab for most of his childhood. His grandparents weren’t the sweetest easygoing-est people–they are heavy drinkers and smoke like crazy. Lots of swearing, too! But they loved him so much and they invested in him and supported his art,which led to him becoming a successful graphic novelist today.

This was a compelling story and I highly recommend it!

One question: Did grown up successful Jarrett ever meet Jack Gantos? I sure hope so