New Kid by Jerry Craft

An enjoyable graphic novel about a boy’s first year at a swanky private school where he feels like not only doesn’t he quite fit in (wealth-status wise) but he also feels conscious about the lack of diversity at his school. (He is one of very few black students.)

I liked this but wasn’t blown away, though I would definitely read more by this author. I’ve seen rave reviews and even a little Newbery buzz, so this review might come back to haunt me.

Sunny Rolls the Dice by Jennifer Holm

Goodness, how did I not know this was coming out? Last year my students and I had lots of hype and anticipation for Swing It Sunny, so I feel kind of bad that I had to see this in a bookstore to know it was out! (bad librarian!oops!)

In this follow up to the other two books Sunny is now in middle school where she’s trying to navigate what’s cool and what’s not. She is excited to discover D&D and start playing with some of her boy friends in the neighborhood. Not surprisingly, the other girls tell her it’s not cool and she has conflict.

Although I enjoyed this it felt like such a slimmer story than Sunny Side Up or Swing It Sunny. The panels even seemed larger and fewer to a page, so it was overall much shorter (or at least felt that way.) To be honest, for a graphic novel exploring the angst of fitting it and changing friendships I’d recommend Real Friends or Best Friends instead. But still, it was a good story and I did like seeing how Dungeons & Dragons was woven into it.

Best Friends by Shannon Hale

This was one of the most hotly anticipated publications this fall for my students (and me), along with Telgemeier’s Guts. I thought Real Friends was so terrific that we own a copy, I promote it a lot at school, and I gave it to the guidance counselor to read. I wouldn’t call it warm and fuzzy, but very realistic (as it should be–it’s her life) about the ups and downs of childhood friendships. With an added layer of Shannon having very real anxiety (and ocd.)

Just like my own kid, Shannon is now in 6th grade. Things have changed a bit since her tumultous 5th grade year, but she still struggles to figure out who is a best friend, can you be a best friend and not leave someone out, and more.

As solid as the first one.

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks

I was so excited for this release today! I went to the bookstore and treated myself to it and came home and promptly read it in one sitting. (the only disappointment here is that I wish it was long, even though the story perfectly suited the length.)
This is a bit of graphic novel dream pairing for me and ever since it was announced I’ve been eagerly awaiting this.
I really, really enjoyed everything about this: the charming pumpkin patch setting, the clever chapter titles, the fudge nicknames, how the characters are drawn, the snacks, and how you could see the characters realizing things just by their eyes.
Perfect timing-a treat to read on the brink of fall.
And now I just have to hope for a sequel showing Josiah and Deja in college!

This Was Our Pact by Ryan Andrews

This was SO WONDERFUL. A nice heavy (really-I think it was printed on heavy paper) good long graphic novel. This is a super charming tale, that reminded me in many ways of the show Over the Garden Wall.  This was terrific blend of completely realistic and magical. And one of the charming things is how the magical stuff is accepted, even though it seems to be established at the start that the boys live in a regular world like we do.

The two boys, Ben and Nathaniel, really aren’t friends, but once were. And as so often happens one remains quirky and “weird” and the other now has a new group of friends who make fun of the first kid.

Ben and Nathaniel and other boys have made a pact to follow lanterns that their town puts in the river every year and see where they go. As the other boys drop off it ends up being just Ben and Nathaniel. Nathaniel’s persistently cheerful, “wow isn’t this exciting!” “Oh hey, a talking bear!” attitude is absolutely delightful. Ben, of course, finds it quite annoying.

This bike ride turns into a quest with all kinds of adventures and magical moments. I loved their bear friend. I loved the dialogue, too.

A total winner.

*I’m seeing a lot of comparison on Goodreads to Miyazaki films and I’d definitely agree with that. As a fan of those films, it makes sense that I liked this so much. Also thought it was interesting that I saw someone list as a negative the length of the book, but I thought it was a plus. I loved that there was a fair amount of text to read and the story was pretty long. I was immersed in it and sorry to see the journey end.

Kiss Number 8 by Colleen AF Venable, Ellen Crenshaw

From the fantastic author of the terrific children’s series, Guinea P.I., here comes a full length YA graphic novel. Overall, I liked this very much, though I specifically preferred the second half of the book (when I felt like things really got moving, and I loved the ending as well as the author/illustrator interview.) There’s a bit of a family history mystery here that is sad and interesting and solid and informs much of the way her family acts. But then the main part of the story is a bit of self discovery, coming of age, type story. I want to click my “unlikable main character” box over there in my categories because I really, really could not stand Mads’s best friend, Cat. And I got so angry with Mads for not only remaining her friend, but also (to my mind) being inexplicably attracted to her! This was one of those stories where there were a few times I wanted to give the main character a good talking to about the choices she was making.  I always think it’s good when the characters in a story provoke a strong reaction in the reader, so that’s not necessarily a negative.



Time Museum, vol. 2 by Matthew Loux

I’ve been eagerly waiting for this sequel for about a year now and I have to admit….I didn’t like it nearly as much as the first one and it ended up feeling like a bit of a letdown. It felt as if time had passed since establishing everything in the first book and like we were just expected to know what the deal was now. There was no recapping, which was difficult reading these in real time publication. And somehow the adventures just felt convoluted? scattered? I don’t know, it just didn’t capture me in the same way the first book did.