All Together Now by Hope Larson

Oh the woes when friends start a band together! I really enjoyed this graphic novel focused on two friends who start a band. I bet you can guess what happens when the cute boy drummer joins them. My daughter and I agreed that we wish the characters had resolved things a bit differently at the end (but that’s just because we liked the characters and wanted them to behave in a certain way, not anything about the storytelling), though it was still a good conclusion.

The Big Break by Mark Tatulli

Another graphic novel for school. This one has a similar predicament that is is prevalent in middle grade novels-two friends might be growing apart/having growing pains when one friend is changing or maturing. I really liked it that in this story those two friends are boys. In this case the one kid is spending a lot of time with a girl and kind of poo poohing the things he and his friend used to do. His friend meanwhile, clings to some of those “childish” things because they remind him of his dad, who died a year ago. Being from NJ, I loved the inclusion of the Jersey Devil theme and the boys quest to make a movie about it and try to find it.

I’m only giving this a 3 star and not 4 because although I liked the book I don’t think there was a resolution in the boys friendship. I think there was a key scene missing.

The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner

Another book I read over the summer but forgot to log! A graphic novel for my school library. A nice easy read. Though I keep lumping it in my mind with Midwinter Witch it was quite different. In this one a girl discovers that she is from a witch family that has a long history in her town-so long that there is some messing around with time. Her mom doesn’t want her using her newly discovered powers, but of course she’s going to anyway. Enjoyable.

Almost American Girl by Robin Ha

I have mixed feelings about this memoir. On the one hand, the book itself is quite good. I like her illustration style and the story drew me in and kept going quickly. On the other hand, and I feel bad saying this because it’s a memoir so these are real people, I thought her mom was so awful!! And the people in mid 90s Alabama were absolutely terrible, too. And then when you learn more and have a better understanding of where she’s coming from you find yourself thinking that Korea sounds like an awful place to live. The bribery and abuse by elementary school teachers was just terrible! And completely accepted! As was the treatment of her mother as a single mother. Honestly, this poor girl seemed to have a really shitty life and all the people she encountered just were awful. Awful! At least you knew things would eventually look up given that she successfully published this memoir. It sounds like I hated this book, and I didn’t. I just hate that it was true.

Becoming RBG by Debbie Levy

This was just terrific. I had a read a picture book bio called I Dissent, which was very interesting, but I still really didn’t know a lot about Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Now that I have read this I have even more respect for her. (Also, as a person from NJ, how did I not know she was a professor at Rutgers??) The graphic novel format worked great for telling her story chronologically and methodically. We are shown how Ruth became the woman she was, influenced by her parents, especially her mother, and World War II.
Not only was this informative, it was also entertainingly told! Sometimes I found myself thinking “oh I hope she makes it!” and then realizing “spoiler alert–you know it works out and she becomes a Supreme Court Justice.”

Highly recommended.

Check, Please: Book 2, Sticks and Stones by Ngozi Ukazu

First of all, let me say how satisfying it is for there to be a book and a sequel and that’s it. End of story. And each book is pretty long-2 years worth of Bitty’s college. So in this sequel Jack is playing professional hockey for an NHL team and Bitty is in his junior and senior year of college. This time a lot of focus is on Bitty and Jack revealing their relationship and can I just say how nice it was to read a story where everyone was accepting and supportive and the teams really have each other’s backs?

Lots of fun, lots of baking, and a super touching ending. I loved it!

Astronauts: Women on the Final Frontier by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks

Another First Second terrific book, this time shining a light on women who were the first in space.  I had never heard of Mary Cleave before and now I think she must be the most brilliant person out there and also “how on earth did she fit in all those careers in her lifetime?!” Before she even joined NASA she had multiple degrees in different scientific fields. This is part Mary’s story, part a little bit Space Race, part the first female Russian cosmonaut, and part women in NASA.
My favorite part was the section describing Mary’s first time in space. Although I have no desire to go up into outer space (um, it seems likely I wouldn’t be chosen) she sure made it sound absolutely amazing and breathtaking.
There is a lot of scientific text in here and presumably it’s all accurate. I wouldn’t know because it was so scientific I had to basically just take in a block of text and say “science blah blah” and move on to the next text.

Very interesting.

Explorers: Lost Islands, ed. by Kazu Kibuishi

I love the Explorers graphic novels and often recommend them to students who love graphic novels and just want more, more, more. Each book has a theme, this one is “lost islands” and then different graphic novel writers and illustrators create a short story based on that theme. Like with any short story collection the results are varied. Having it be a graphic novel collection means that just flipping through it you can immediately see how very different each one is.
For the most part I thought they were all good! My favorite story was Carapace by Jason Caffoe (an author I was not familiar with.) I liked his style and color and the story itself, about a boy on an island and the ghost of a giant crab that is stuck on the island. This was a clever and sweet story.

Black Canary: Ignite by Meg Cabot and Cara McGee

A pretty short graphic novel I bought for school and  took the opportunity to take home and read while we’re closed. I love Meg Cabot’s writing so def had high hopes for this. Indeed, it was funny and fast. Reminded me a bit of Squirrel Girl. In fact, I would like Black Canary to meet up with Squirrel Girl, but alas DC vs. Marvel. No way are they meeting up in Gotham City.  This is definitely an origin story as teenage Dinah Lance is just discovering what her power is (and trying to keep it a secret and then discovering her own backstory secret.)  Looking forward to more of these because it would be satisfying to read a bunch together.