Tag Archives: genre: comics

Molly and the Bear Review

cameron-company-molly-and-the-bear-soft-cover-1Molly and the Bear by Bob Scott

Cameron & Company, 2016. 978-1937359850

Synopsis: When pan phobic Bear moves in with Molly and her family, life becomes anything but ordinary. But with a lot of patience and understanding, Molly gradually begins to help Bear outside of his shell…even if there is some crying and whining along the way.

Why I picked it up: I am a huge fan of quirky animal stories, strong female protagonists, and family comics.

Why I finished it: It takes a special sort of person to handle a 900-pound pan phobic grizzly, and Molly happens to have the right personality. Despite the fact that some of Bear’s trivial idiosyncrasies leave Molly scratching her head, she is (to a point) happy to oblige to his requests. It’s not that she’s being dismissive; she merely wants to find a way to relieve some of Bear’s anxieties: his fear of cats, his worry that the air isn’t safe to breathe when they land after a plane flight, the stress of whether or not Molly is going to leave the house when she puts her socks on (sometimes she just has cold feet), and how to get her father to warm up to him. Originally published as a webcomic, Bob Scott has collected the most comprehensive collection of his strips to give the reader a little bit of a taste as to what Molly and the Bear is about. As previously stated, it’s easy to  get drawn in to the comic not only because of the characters, but because Scott’s art pays such a loving homage to the Golden Age comics of which we are so fond. There is a playfulness to the art and the writing that shows the reader just how much fun Scott has writing and drawing the strips. I thought it was particularly clever that he’s thrown in a few artist gags into the mix – they might go over some reader’s heads because they seem somewhat out of context, but I think it’s a way for Scott to poke a little bit of fun at himself. It’s a funny, heartwarming comic about just being yourself and the joys of friendship. For more of Molly and Bear, check out the comic here.

Other related materials: Garfield comics by Jim Davis; Snoopy: Contact! (A Peanuts Collection) by Charles M. Schulz; Woodstock: Master of Disguise: A Peanuts Collection by Charles M. Schulz; Charlie Brown and Friends: A Peanuts Collection by Charles M. Schulz; 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; Skip School, Fly to Space: A Pearls Before Swine Collection by Stephan T. Pastis; When Crocs Fly: A Pearls Before Swine Collection by Stephan T. Pastis; The Mutts Diaries by Patrick McDonnell; The Mutts Winter Diaries by Patrick McDonnell; AAAA!: A FoxTrot Kids Edition by Bill Amend; Big Nate books by Lincoln Peirce; Oh, Brother! Brat Attack! by Bob Weber, Jr. and Jay Stephens

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Bone, Volume 3: Eyes of the Storm Review

bone_3Bone, Volume 3: Eyes of the Storm by Jeff Smith

Graphix, 2006. 978-0439706254

Synopsis: After an attack by the mysterious hairy creatures at the farm, Fone Bone, Grandma Ben and Thorn start on the house repairs while Phoney Bone, Smiley Bone, and Lucius return to Barrelhaven. Thorn’s mysterious dreams are starting to haunt her in the daylight hours, but when her discussion with Fone Bone is overheard by Grandma Ben, it sparks a conversation no one saw coming. Meanwhile, Phoney tries for one more get-rich scheme by making a double or nothing bet on the Barrelhaven Tavern.

Why I picked it up: The usual: I had to figure out what happens next.

Why I finished it: The hits keep on coming in this third installment of the Bone series. Repairs to the farm may be keeping everyone’s hands busy, but there seems to be so much more on everyone’s minds. Both Fone Bone and Thorn have been having somewhat foreboding dreams since volume 2, but with renewed appearances by rat creatures, both have a strong suspicion that the dreams could give them some answers. The reader also learns a little bit more about the great war referenced by Grandma Ben in the previous book, and we are treated to a look at the force behind the movements of the rat creatures and the master of the mysterious hooded figure. In another part of the valley, the reader witnesses the attempted reformation of Phoney Bone. I say attempted because he still seems bent on trying to win back his former fortune…even if it is being amassed in poultry products.  The reader is getting quite a chunk of information in this volume and the back story is continuing to settle into place. This volume also seems to harken back to the theme of finding one’s way that was such a large part of the first book. With the characters branching off in different directions, it is even more important for them to look out for each other and to trust each other as they journey into the unknown. Smith has kept up the energy and suspense, and this volume reaches one of what I have a feeling will be many more climaxes. The story has so many little nuances that while the overall feel is that of a cartoon drama, there’s that little bit that makes you think there’s more; we’re seeing the different layers coming out and it’s adding not only to the epic feel, but the overall enjoyment.

Other related materials: Bone, Volume 1: Out from Boneville by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 2: The Great Cow Race by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 4: The Dragonslayer by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 5: Rock Jaw, Master of the Eastern Border by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 6: Old Man’s Cave by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 7: Ghost Circles by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 8: Treasure Hunters by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 9: Crown of Horns by Jeff Smith; Bone, Prequel: Rose by Jeff Smith; Bone: Tall Tales by Jeff Smith and Tom Sniegoski; Bone: Quest for the Spark Books 1 & 2 by Jeff Smith and Tom Sniegoski; Zita the Spacegirl series by Ben Hatke; The Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi; Knights of the Lunch Table books by Frank Cammuso

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Rocket and Groot: Stranded on Planet Strip Mall! Review

rocket_and_grootRocket and Groot: Stranded on Planet Strip Mall! by Tom Angleberger

Marvel Press, 2016. 978-1484714522

Synopsis: After an epic battle with space piranhas, Rocket, Groot, and a highly intelligent tape dispenser named Veronica find themselves stranded on a planet without a ship, food, or water. But this isn’t just any planet. This is a planet that is covered entirely by a strip mall, the shops of which contain killer toilets. It’s going to take, heart, muscle, and a LOT of tape if they are going to survive….

Why I picked it up: I loved Guardians of the Galaxy and I was excited to find out that there was a middle grade novel that followed the characters.

Why I finished it: This book has a little bit of everything: action, drama, suspense, humor, and awesome doodles drawn by a genetically modified woodland creature and a giant tree whose entire vocabulary consists of three words. Okay, so the doodles done by one of the characters are far superior to the other, but that’s sort of beside the point. I loved that the proprietors of the shops on Planet Strip Mall all have a sort of borderline creepy quality even before the reader understands just how evil and insistent they are. And yet, as battle worn as our heroes become, they still maintain their snarky personalities that some older readers will know carried over from the film. Angleberger has done a fantastic job adapting the characters for the middle school audience and the fact that he threw in a tape dispense because he could makes the story that much more awesome. You can totally tell just how much fun the author is having with the characters and the universe they inhabit, and it’s contagious. It’s a well-crafted story that is sure to please readers of all ages, whether or not they saw Guardians – and there will be more where this one came from!

Other related materials: Origami Yoda books by Tom Angleberger; The Quikpick Papers series by Tom Angleberger; Inspector Flytrap by Tom Angleberger and Cece Bell; Sidekicked by John David Anderson; Minion by John David Anderson; Powerless by Matthew Cody; Super by Matthew Cody; Villanous by Matthew Cody; The Codename Conspiracy series by Chris Rylander; Platypus Police Squad series by Jarrett J. Krosoczka; Nerd Camp by Elissa Brent Weissman; Nerd Camp 2.0 by Elissa Brent Weissman; Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi; Moon Base Alpha novels by Stuart Gibbs; Big Nate books by Lincoln Peirce

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Flora and Ulysses Review

flora_and_ulyssesFlora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by K.G. Campbell

Winner of the 2014 John Newbery Medal; A 2014 Junior Library Guild Selection

Candlewick Press, 2013. 978-0763660406

Synopsis: When Flora Belle Buckman observes a squirrel meet an unfortunate fate at the hands of her neighbor’s out of control vacuum, she steps in to save the day. But when this cynic realizes that she has witnessed the birth of a superhero, both girl and squirrel find themselves with a new bond that will change them in unanticipated ways. Seal blubber!

Why I picked it up: My grandmother passed recently, and I remember DiCamillo talking in her acceptance speech about her mother being worried about what would happen to her vacuum when she died.

Why I finished it: This book had been sitting on my shelf for a while, and in light of what has been going on in my life recently, it’s provided a sort of comfort for me. Flora has been told that she is a cynic by her romance novel-writing mother, and she does view the world with some cynicism, but I don’t think Flora is as cynical as she believes herself to be. She proves to be a hero in her own right when she revives Ulysses after his encounter with Mrs. Tickham’s birthday present. She continues to nurture and encourage him, reminding him when he s unsure what to do: “You are Ulysses”. And when she must leave the house in the middle of the night to find her squirrel who has been kidnapped by her mother, she understands the power of friendship and family. Campbell’s illustrations bring this story to life in a format that blends comics with the traditional novel format. The hybrid format is engaging for the reader, bringing the characters and the story to life, and it ties in with Flora’s favorite comic that plays a key role throughout the plot: The Illuminated Adventures of the Amazing Incadesto! Yes, it is about a superhero and a cynic, but it is also about love and relationships and poetry and food. It’s about the unknown connections we make with each other and the people around us. It’s a beautifully written story that will connect to readers of all ages.

Other related materials: The Tale of Desperaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering; Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate Dicamillo; The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo; The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Yoko Tanaka; The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline; The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Patricia Castelao; The Crossover by Kwame Alexander; Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor; One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia; Bridge to Terebithia by Katherine Paterson, illustrated by Donna Diamond; El Deafo by Cece Bell; Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

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A Very Babymouse Christmas Review

a_very_babymouse_christmasA Very Babymouse Christmas (Babymouse #15) by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

Random House Books for Young Readers, 2011. 978-0375867798

Synopsis: The holidays are here and everyone’s enjoying their favorite traditions—eating latkes, decorating for Kwanza, singing holiday songs, and most of all, being with family. Well, everyone except Babymouse. Babymouse only has one thing on her mind—PRESENTS!!! And whether she has to face down the ghosts of mean girls past or outsmart Santa himself, she’ll do whatever it takes to make sure she gets the present she wants. Will Babymouse find a whiz-bang under the tree? Will she learn the true meaning of the holidays? And what do you get for a narrator, anyway? – from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: This series is pretty popular and it came highly recommended by my librarian colleagues and my second cousins.

Why I finished it: This series is fun and funny, so I can totally understand the reader appeal. Yeah, I’m a little late to the game having only started reading the Holms’ work this last summer, but the sibling duo has definitely tapped into the mind of the reader and won their hearts. Christmas puns abound in this installment, beginning with a nod to ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. Readers will laugh out loud at Babymouse’s somewhat over-the-top antics in pursuit of the perfect Christmas gift – to receive, not to give. I love the multi-cultural cast of characters made up of a host of different animals – plus, I found it appropriate that the mean girls are cats. Despite the cover, the book is quite pink, which contributes to Babymouse’s personality. The art is fun and whimsical, befitting our day-dreaming heroine and it’s simple. I write that, and it has a sort of negative connotation, but it would seem the Holm siblings are relying on the characters and the plot to fuel the story along. Rather than an intricate page with details galore, it’s easier to follow with minimalist backgrounds and the three color scheme – an important factor in encouraging reluctant readers. Babymouse is full of humor and wit that will appeal to readers of all ages and remind us that there is more to the holidays than just the presents.

Other related materials: Babymouse series by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm; Squish series by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm; Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm; Lunch Lady books by Jarrett J. Krosoczka; Dragonbreath series by Ursula Vernon; Hamster Princess books by Ursula Vernon; Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney; Dork Diaries series by Rachel Renèe Russell; The Princess in Black books by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale; Phoebe and Her Unicorn books by Dana Simpson; Cleopatra in Space series by Mike Maihack; Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi; Zita the Spacegirl series by Ben Hatke

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Oh, Brother!: Brat Attack! Review

oh_brother_brat_attackOh, Brother! Brat Attack! by Bob Weber, Jr. and Jay Stephens

Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2015. 978-1449472252

Synopsis: Oh, Brother! stars the sibling duo of Bud and Lily, who humorously interact within the leafy confines of their middle-class suburban home and neighborhood. Whether they are playing together in the family room or running amok in the schoolyard, Bud and Lily elevate the act of one-upmanship to Code Red levels. – from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: I have a soft spot for books about siblings.

Why I finished it: For those of us that have been blessed with siblings – either older or younger – we know what’s going to happen with Lily and Bud before we even crack the spine. But even if the antics between the two siblings is somewhat predictable, the reader is instantly endeared to the characters because of their love for each other…even if it isn’t always obvious. Lily and Bud are involved in a constant battle of the wits, each intent upon showing up the other with their own brands of superiority. The quick, light-hearted humor keeps the reader engaged and captures the delicate love/hate relationship between brothers and sisters. It’s reminiscent of the relationships between Beezus and Ramona Quimby and Peter and Fudge Hatcher: we laugh with them, we get angry with them, we cry with them, we are happy with them. They are the sort of stories that not only carry a nostalgia factor, but make us smile and remind us of the fun and innocence of childhood. Cute, quirky, and funny, this book is sure to strike a chord with reader of all ages.

Other related materials: Snoopy: Contact! (A Peanuts Collection) by Charles M. Schulz; Woodstock: Master of Disguise: A Peanuts Collection by Charles M. Schulz; Charlie Brown and Friends: A Peanuts Collection by Charles M. Schulz; The Mutts Winter Diaries by Patrick McDonnell; The Mutts Diaries by Patrick McDonnell; Big Nate books by Lincoln Peirce; EMU Club books by Ruben Bolling; Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary; Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary; Ramona the Brave by Beverly Cleary; The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner; Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume; Superfudge by Judy Blume; Fudge-a-Mania by Judy Blume; Double Fudge by Judy Blume

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The Mutts Winter Diaries Review

two-mutts1The Mutts Winter Diaries by Patrick McDonnell

Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2015. 978-1449470777

Synopsis: Grab your sweaters, hats, and gloves and join Mooch, Earl, and their friends as they discover and explore the excitement of the winter season.

Why I picked it up: I’m an animal lover with a mutt of my own.

Why I finished it: This is a cute collection of previously published comics specially chosen for kids that will have the reader longing for your own snow day (well, for those of us that enjoy snow, anyway). It’s the season to try new things – hibernation – and continue with old traditions – evening walks in the snow with a new sweater. Mooch and Earl are two best friends that will go anywhere and do almost anything for each other, and the love between these two friends and between the pets and their owners really comes out in these comics. They are very real animals as well: Mooch preferring to curl up in a warm lap or on the armchair instead of being out in the cold winter winds; Earl’s facial expressions when he thinks it’s too cold to go outside for a walk is reminiscent of the look my own dog gives me. I loved the additional “More to Explore” portion at the end of the book that tells about what different animals do in the winter time. McDonnell’s art is just as fun and playful as his characters, avoiding angles to create rounded edges that make the comic more accessible to readers of all ages. Animal lovers and comic fans alike will re-live some of their favorite Mutts moments that can be shared generation after generation.

Other related materials: The Mutts Diaries by Patrick McDonnell; 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; Charlie Brown and Friends: A Peanuts Collection by Charles M. Schulz; Woodstock: Master of Disguise: A Peanuts Collection by Charles M. Schulz; Big Nate books by Lincoln Peirce; Phoebe and Her Unicorn by Dana Simpson; Unicorn on a Roll: Another Phoebe and Her Unicorn Adventure by Dana Simpson; Unicorn vs. Goblins: Another Phoebe and Her Unicorn Adventure by Dana Simpson; Bird & Squirrel books by James Burks; Stinky Cecil in Operation Pond Rescue by Paige Braddock; Dragonbreath series by Ursula Vernon; Hamster Princess series by Ursula Vernon; Babymouse series by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

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