Tag Archives: comic books

Explorer: The Mystery Boxes

explorer_1Explorer: The Mystery Boxes edited by Kazu Kibuishi

Harry N. Abrams, 2012. 978-1419700095

Synopsis: Funny, fantastic, spooky, and suspenseful, each of these unique and beautifully illustrated short graphic works revolves around a central theme: a mysterious box and the marvels—or mayhem—inside. Artists include middle school favorites Kazu Kibuishi, Raina Telgemeier (Smile), and Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy), as well as Jason Caffoe, Stuart Livingston, Johane Matte, Rad Sechrist (all contributors to the groundbreaking comics anthology series Flight), and upcoming artist Emily Carroll. – from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: I love a good anthology of short stories.

Why I finished it: What I love about short stories is that the author/artist only has a few pages to craft a complete universe with well-rounded characters and an engaging plot. The storytellers in this collection take the theme of mystery boxes and make it their own. All of the stories have a distinct fantasy and mythology feel that will take the reader into outer space, magical lands filled with strange monsters, and even into the kitchen with crazy superstitious grandmothers. Carroll’s story is arguably the creepiest (for me, anyway), creating a mash-up between a traditional and modern ghost story that had chills going down my spine. Most of the rest of the stories have a lighter feel to them, though they are no less dramatic. I appreciated the differences in the art and storytelling styles because it gives the reader a wider spectrum of material to enjoy. Kibuishi has put together a fun and engaging collection of stories and I am eager to read the other books to see what other author/illustrators I might need to check out.

Other related materials: The Lost Islands (Explorer #2) edited by Kazu Kibuishi; The Hidden Doors (Explorer #3) edited by Kazu Kibuishi; Flight Explorer edited by Kazu Kibuishi Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi; Copper by Kazu Kibuishi; The Legend of Korra graphic novels  by Michael Dante DiMartino, illustrated Irene Koh; Zita the Spacegirl series by Ben Hatke; Mighty Jack series by Ben Hatke; Missle Mouse books by Jake Parker; Bad Island by Doug TenNapel; Cardboard by Doug TenNapel; Bone series by Jeff Smith

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Big Nate: What’s A Little Noogie Between Friends? Review

big_nate_whats_a_little_noogie_between_friendsBig Nate: What’s a Little Noogie Between Friends? By Lincoln Peirce

Andrwes McMeel Publishing, 2017. 978-1-4494-6229-1

Synopsis: Lately it feels like Nate has been on a losing streak – literally. His soccer team loses to a team with a record of 0-60, the basketball team gets pounded by a future superstar, and his beloved Jenny is moving to Seattle. What is it going to take to make Nate feel like a winner again?

Why I picked it up: I wanted a quick read to take with me on a weekend trip.

Why I finished it:  At its heart, Big Nate is a much about friendship as it is about anything else, and in this volume of collected comics it looks like friends is what Nate needs most. Because, really, who else is going to make him feel better when it seems like the whole world is falling apart? While Teddy, Francis, and Chad don’t always share Nate’s world view, they are always there to put things in perspective – whether Nate will come around to their point is anyone’s guess. Like Nate, we have all experienced the frustration of having a losing season with our sport team or had a hard time transitioning when a friend moves away. But we can have confidence that there will still be friends and teachers there to pick us up when we are down and support us through the good and the bad and the things that we think are pretty much the end of the world but probably not really…maybe. What I liked about this collection was that it felt like it was growing up a little bit. Nate may be perpetually in middle school, but that doesn’t mean Peirce can’t grow him and the other characters as the comic goes on. The stasis is what makes the comic fun, but it is the little truths about life and growing up that help to make a connection with the reader. It’s another quick, humorous read that is guaranteed to help make the reader feel like a winner even when they are down in the dumps.

Other related materials: Big Nate: Revenge of the Cream Puffs by Lincoln Peirce; Big Nate: I Can’t Take It! by Lincoln Peirce; Big Nate’s Greatest Hits by Lincoln Peirce; Big Nate: Welcome to My World by Lincoln Peirce; Big Nate: Say Goodbye to Dork City by Lincoln Peirce; Big Nate: The Crowd Goes Wild! by Lincoln Peirce; Big Nate and Friends by Lincoln Peirce; Big Nate: Game On! by Lincoln Peirce; Big Nate Makes the Grade by Lincoln Peirce; Big Nate: Great Minds Think Alike by Lincoln Peirce; Big Nate Out Loud by Lincoln Peirce; Big Nate: Thunka, Thunka, Thunka by Lincoln Peirce; My Weirdest School books by Dan Gutman, illustrated by Jim Paillot; Timmy Failure books by Stephan Pastis; Middle School books by James Patterson and Chris Tebbits, illustrated by Laura Park; Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney

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Solution Squad Review

solution_squad_coverSolution Squad by Jim McClain, art by Rose McClain, Serena Guerra, Christopher Jones, Joshua Buchanan, Shelby Edmunds, Jessica Lynn, Robby Bevard, and Paul E. Schultz

Solution Squad LLC, 2017. 978-0998942506

Synopsis: Follow the adventures of teen superheroes Equality, La Calculadora, Abscissa, Ordinate, Absolutia, and Radical as they use their math-based powers to solve everyday problems and even some extraordinary ones!

Why I picked it up: I heard McClain speak at a library conference this last summer and was intrigued by the notion of a comic being used to teach mathematics.

Why I finished it: As someone who found mathematics confusing and complicated in school (you would think it wouldn’t be that hard to plug numbers into a formula…), this book made me wish that my own teachers had been able to come up with some of the same creative concepts that McClain has conceived in Solution Squad. Using characters names and powers to reinforce basic principles, the reader is taken on a fun-filled mathematical journey that features some of everyone’s ‘favorite’ problems; for example, the two trains traveling at different speeds where one will eventually catch up to the other. McClain’s teaching expertise really shines in this book and in the lesson plans he has that will help other teachers be able to use his material in their own classrooms. I know I would have been a lot more incentivized by the comic angle when I was learning Algebra! And if you still aren’t that into math at the end of the book, that’s okay too. There’s still a lot of crazy adventures that will keep you guessing and maybe even playing along to solve the problems with our young heroes. It’s a great way to trick your brain into learning something new!

Other related materials: Everything You Need to Ace Math in One Big Fat Notebook: The Complete Middle School Study Guide by Altair Peterson, illustrations by Chris Pearce; Everything You Need to Ace Science in One Big Fat Notebook: The Complete Middle School Study Guide illustrated by Chris Pearce; The Everything Kids’ Puzzle Book: Mazes, Word Games, Puzzles, and More! Hours of Fun! by Jennifer A. Ericsson and Beth L Blair; The Everything Kids’ Science Experiment Book: Boil Ice, Float Water, Measure Gravity – Challenge The World Around You! by Tom Robinson; Klutz LEGO Chain Reactions Craft Kit by Pat Murphy; The Kid Who Invented the Popsicle and Other Surprising Stories About Inventions by Don L. Wulffson; Smithsonian Maker Lab: 28 Super Cool Projects by Jack Challoner; Hidden Figures: Young Reader Edition by Margot Lee Shetterly; The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Young Reader’s Edition by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Meeler, illustrations by Anna Hymas; Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women by Catherine Thimmesh, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

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Swing It, Sunny Review

swing_it_sunnySwing It, Sunny by Jennifer L. Holm, illustrated by Matthew Holm, colors by Lark Pien

Graphix, 2017. 978-0545741729

Synopsis: Summer’s over and it’s time for Sunny Lewin to enter the strange and unfriendly hallways of . . . middle school. When her Gramps calls her from Florida to ask how she’s doing, she always tells him she’s fine. But the truth? Sunny is NOT having the best time.from Amzon.com

Why I picked it up: I absolutely loved Sunny Side Up!

Why I finished it: Sunny is still struggling to adjust to her life without her older brother Dale, who is attending a boarding school for troubled youths. He is home for holidays, but things just aren’t the same. He’s angry and dismissive of Sunny, who just wants to be able to talk with her brother the way she used to. We haven’t all been in Sunny’s shoes, but we certainly know how painful it is to adjust when a family member moves out or when people we love change in ways that don’t seem like they are for the better. I found the advice that Gramps gives Sunny about just loving her brother and being able to give him space to figure things out to be particularly poignant. We can’t predict or control the changes that happen in our lives, but we can find healthy ways to move through the changes so that we are also learning and growing into the best people we can be. Pien’s colors really bring Sunny’s world to life, giving us a sort of flash back to what it was like to grow up in the late 70s. I liked the use of the spotlight to display a sort of reflectiveness in Sunny as she first is missing her older brother and then as the book goes on, how Sunny is striving to find ways to love her brother in spite of his anger at the family. The Holm siblings give the reader a sense that we can overcome life’s challenges and be able to run faster and fly farther than we could before. It gives us a positive message that even though bad things happen, we don’t have to let the break us.

Other related materials: Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm, colors by Lark Pien; Babymouse series by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm; The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm; Smile by Raina Telgemeier; Sisters by Raina Telgemeier; Drama by Raina Telgemeier; The Baby-Sitters Club books by Ann M. Martin; illustrated by Raina Telgemeier; Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson; All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson; Invisible Emmie by Terri Libenson; El Deafo by Cece Bell; Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt; Phoebe and Her Unicorn series by Dana Simpson; Space Dumplins by Craig Thompson; Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson; Big Nate books by Lincoln Peirce

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Big Nate: Revenge of the Cream Puffs Review

big_nate_revenge_of-the_cream_puffsBig Nate: Revenge of the Cream Puffs by Lincoln Peirce

Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2016. 978-1449462284

Synopsis: Here come the Cream Puffs!  Nate and his baseball team, saddled with the most embarrassing moniker in Little League history, want to show the world they’re not just a bunch of cupcakes. But it won’t be easy. Their opponents mock them. The local sports section misprints Nate’s name—THREE TIMES. And now, on the day of the big game, illness and injuries have the team facing a crushing defeat . . . unless the unlikeliest Cream Puff of all can come in from the bullpen and save the day.from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: I’m loving this comic so so much!

Why I finished it: Nate is still the man when it comes to everything – or so he would like to think. He’ll take on most any challenger in order to prove he’s the top dog. Except maybe Kim and her new cuddle bunny Chester. That’s just too much physical damage to even think about. Whether it’s kicking Gina’s butt at chess or trying to earn participation points by getting coffee for Mrs. Godfrey, Nate never fails to express his trademark charisma and charm that will keep readers endlessly entertained. We continue to identify with Nate’s struggles to get through middle school: dealing with over-exuberant teachers, trying to stay away from the bullies, trying to win the girl of your dreams back, pondering why he didn’t make the list of school hotties…. Peirce’s art is still just as lighthearted as his stories, using bright colors and thick lines to entice the reader into the book’s pages. It’s a perfect end-of-the-summer read as we start to head back to school.

Other related materials: Big Nate: What’s A Little Noogie Between Friends? By Lincoln Peirce; Big Nate: I Can’t Take It! by Lincoln Peirce; Big Nate’s Greatest Hits by Lincoln Peirce; Big Nate: Welcome to My World by Lincoln Peirce; Big Nate: Say Goodbye to Dork City by Lincoln Peirce; Big Nate: The Crowd Goes Wild! by Lincoln Peirce; Big Nate and Friends by Lincoln Peirce; Big Nate: Game On! by Lincoln Peirce; Big Nate Makes the Grade by Lincoln Peirce; Big Nate: Great Minds Think Alike by Lincoln Peirce; Big Nate Out Loud by Lincoln Peirce; Big Nate: Thunka, Thunka, Thunka by Lincoln Peirce; My Weirdest School books by Dan Gutman, illustrated by Jim Paillot; Timmy Failure books by Stephan Pastis; Middle School books by James Patterson and Chris Tebbits, illustrated by Laura Park; Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney

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Suit Your Selfie Review

suit_your_selfieSuit Your Selfie: A Pearls Before Swine Collection by Stephan T. Pastis

Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2017. 978-1449483753

Synopsis: Gather ‘round the smartphone, kids! Stephan and the Pearls gang are back with a whole album’s-worth of jokes, jabs, and cringe-worthy puns. – from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: I’ve been enjoying the middle grades selections of syndicated comics.

Why I finished it: This collection features a number of off the wall puns and true-to-life conundrums that had me cracking a smile in no time. Pastis doesn’t even seem to care that so many of the puns are really, really bad and his characters aren’t afraid to tell him so. My favorite features Pig taking care of his pillow because it’s down. Another favorite was a strip in which Pig is riding an invisible bicycle because Pastis can’t draw bicycles. There’s also a bit in which Rat creates a historical tour featuring a telephone booth, a mail box, a book, and a rock star who appears to be homeless. Yes, a lot of the jokes are pretty cringe worthy, but that’s part of the fun. We need to be able to laugh at terrible humor every once in a while because it’s good for us to laugh. Laughter helps lift us up when we’re sad and it helps us stay young. This is a perfect short read for when you might need a little pick-me-up or even if you don’t and it’s even better when shared with those people in your life who still remember phones that plugged into the wall.

Other related materials: Beginning Pearls: A Pearls Before Swine Collection by Stephan T. Pastis; The Croc Ate My Homework: A Pearls Before Swine Collection by Stephan T. Pastis; When Crocs Fly: A Pearls Before Swine Collection by Stephan T. Pastis Skip School, Fly to Space: A Pearls Before Swine Collection by Stephan T. Pastis; The Mutts Autumn Diaries by Patrick McDonnell; The Mutts Winter Diaries by Patrick McDonnell; Timmy Failure  books by Stephan Pastis; Big Nate books by Lincoln Peirce; Diary of a Wimpy Kid books by Jeff Kinney; Captain Underpants books by Dav Pilkey; Stick Dog series by Tom Watson; The Essential Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson; The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes: A Calvin and Hobbes Treasury by Bill Watterson

 

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Bad Machinery, Vol. 6: The Case of the Unwelcome Visitor Review

Bad-Machinery-6Bad Machinery, Volume 6: The Case of the Unwelcome Visitor by John Allison

Oni Press, 2016. 978-62010-351-7

Synopsis: With school out for summer holiday, Charlotte, Jack, and Linton are enjoying a long deserved rest from the rigors of academia and indulging in the delights of staying up late and getting up even later. But when a local celebrity ends up in the hospital after being found wandering around town (apparently out of his mind), the three young sleuths find that perhaps their holidays won’t be so lazy after all.

Why I picked it up: Because amazing-ness.

Why I finished it: This volume starts with a case already in progress, but due to “failed back-up procedures” the reader is only privy to the conclusion of the mystery. And I read through this entire volume not really giving much thought to the fact that Allison gave us only part of a mystery before delving into the main portion of the story…except that the end of the one story ends up being important for the other. But what really mystified me was that it wasn’t explained where Mildred and Sonny were spending their holiday until halfway through the volume when Mildred just sort of shows up at Lottie’s door. It was clear that there were members of the group that were out of town, but the only explanation given at the onset was where Shauna was spending her holiday. Or I missed something. Who knows. The reader gets to meet more of Linton’s family in this novel, and we learn where Linton may have gotten some of this appetite for solving mysteries and why he’s so desperate to find a mystery for he and Jack to work on during their summer break. It’s been interesting to see the group sectioned off a bit in the last couple of books so that we get some more in depth character development, which is one of the things I love about this series. Allison is growing his characters so that they are able to stand on their own and not just identify with being in a sextet. The ending gets a little bit MST3K, but even in its absurdity, it’s still 100% believable.

Other related materials: Bad Machinery, Volume 1: The Case of the Team Spirit by John Allison; Bad Machinery, Volume 2: The Case of the Good Boy by John Allison; Bad Machinery, Volume 3: The Case of the Simple Soul by John Allison; Bad Machinery, Volume 4: The Case of the Lonely One by John Allison; Bad Machinery, Volume 6: The Case of the Unwelcome Visitor by John Allison; Bad Machinery, Volume 7: The Case of the Forked Road by John Allison; Scott Pilgrim books by Bryan Lee O’Malley; The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks; The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky; Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen; Adventure Time comics by Ryan North, illustrated by Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb; Adventure Time Volume 1: Playing with Fire by Danielle Corsetto; Adventure Time: Marceline & The Scream Queens by Meredith Gran; A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle, illustrated by Hope Larson; Lumberjanes comics by Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters, Brooke A. Allen, and Grace Ellis

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