Take 5: Recent graphic novels reviews
I continue to mostly just want to read graphic novels. That works out well, because so do so many of the kids at school. So here are a few quick post-it note reviews of books I read this past week (and one book a student read).
All descriptions are from the publishers. Transcriptions of post-its are below the summaries. Read those to avoid having to decipher my carpal tunnel-addled writing!
Batter Royale by Leisl Adams (ISBN-13: 9781419750762 Publisher: Amulet Paperbacks Publication date: 06/07/2022, Ages 12-18)
In this fun graphic novel, a talented young chef is selected to participate in a baking reality show and finds herself mixed up in spicy competition, bitter rivalry, and sweet romance
In Leisl Adams’s debut graphic novel, Batter Royale, an aspiring amateur baker enters the toughest, ugliest, most fearsome fight she’ll ever experience: a baking reality show.
When seventeen-year-old small-town waitress Rose impresses a famous food critic, she and her best friend, Fred, find themselves thrust into the tough world of competitive baking. The contest is an intense ten days of bizarre challenges, and the competition is cutthroat. Some competitors are willing to lie, cheat, and sabotage their way to the top. Rose may be in over her head, but she is determined to show that she can become a top chef. Batter Royale is a fish-out-of-water style romantic comedy about climbing out of the circumstances you’re in and making your dreams come true.
(POST-IT SAYS: Cute, quick story set in the challenge of a baking show. Recipes included! A great thing about this book is the main character is 17 but this book is totally fine for and will appeal to grades 6th and up.)
Button Pusher by Tyler Page (ISBN-13: 9781250758330 Publisher: First Second Publication date: 04/12/2022, Ages 10-14)
A memoir-driven realistic graphic novel about Tyler, a child who is diagnosed with ADHD and has to discover for himself how to best manage it.
Tyler’s brain is different. Unlike his friends, he has a hard time paying attention in class. He acts out in goofy, over-the-top ways. Sometimes, he even does dangerous things—like cut up a bus seat with a pocketknife or hang out of an attic window.
To the adults in his life, Tyler seems like a troublemaker. But he knows that he’s not. Tyler is curious and creative. He’s the best artist in his grade, and when he can focus, he gets great grades. He doesn’t want to cause trouble, but sometimes he just feels like he can’t control himself.
In Button Pusher, cartoonist Tyler Page uses his own childhood experiences to explore what it means to grow up with ADHD. From diagnosis to treatment and beyond, Tyler’s story is raw and enlightening, inviting you to see the world from a new perspective.
(POST-IT SAYS: As someone who is raising a kid with ADHD and sees it all day at school, this memoir is so necessary and will help so many kids feel seen. Loved the art, the story, and the informational sections. Set in the 80s/90s, it also shows how much we’ve learned about ADHD and how common it is.)
The Prisoner of Shiverstone by Linette Moore (ISBN-13: 9781419743924 Publisher: ABRAMS Publication date: 04/05/2022, ages 8-12)
A positively ingenious story about a mysterious island, long-lost secrets, and a young girl’s quest in the world of mad science!
In Linette Moore’s debut, middle-grade graphic novel, The Prisoner of Shiverstone, eleven-year-old Helga Sharp is found unconscious in a drifting rowboat near the coast of Utley Island. Utley, as Helga finds out when she awakens in the hospital, is forbidden territory: it’s a prison island to which the Mainland has exiled troublesome mad scientists for generations. Helga is questioned by the island’s guards and though they’re suspicious of her story, they agree to let her stay until they find her family.
The truth is, it’s no accident that Helga landed here. She is a keen inventor, but the Mainland is suspicious of all scientists and inventors. While working on her projects in secret, Helga made radio contact with Erasmus Lope, a mad genius who everyone thought had died in a lab experiment gone spectacularly wrong. But Lope is alive, and Helga is on a mission to rescue him from the prison island.
Now Helga must find a way to break Lope out, right under the noses of the family of famous heroes that run Utley Island. There’s only one big problem—Lope’s trapped inside a giant crystal in the mad scientists’ museum!
Fans of Red’s Planet and Suee and the Shadow are sure to love The Prisoner of Shiverstone, a charismatically illustrated mad science adventure for readers of all ages.
(POST-IT SAYS: I gave this to a 3rd grader to read. She said this book was a good adventure story that was a fast read. She liked the art, that it was a fantasy, and that the characters were weird. She read it in one night!)
Tin Man by Justin Madson (ISBN-13: 9781419751059 Publisher: Amulet Paperbacks Publication date: 04/19/2022, Ages 14-18)
A YA graphic novel about unlikely friends—a tin man seeking a heart and a high schooler trying to come to terms with the death of her grandmother
In Justin Madson’s debut graphic novel, Tin Man, a girl and her brother befriend the titular Tin Man with unexpected results. Solar is in her last year of high school and is reeling from the recent death of her grandmother. She has abandoned her plans for the future and fallen in with a bad crowd. Her little brother, Fenn, doesn’t understand why she’s changed—she doesn’t even want to help him build their rocket in the garage anymore. Campbell is a tin woodsman—a clunky metal man whose sole purpose in life is to chop down trees. He longs for more, however, and decides to seek out a heart, believing that, with one, he will be able to feel things he has never felt before and, therefore, change his life.
Equal parts The Iron Giant, The Wizard of Oz, Edward Scissorhands, and Freaks and Geeks, Tin Man is a story about finding friendship in the unlikeliest of places.
(POST-IT SAYS: Really poignant story of friendship, hope, grief, and belonging. This character-driven book is as emotional and melancholy as you might imagine the Tin Man’s life to be while he seeks what he’s missing. A moving journey through loneliness.)
Squire by Nadia Shammas, Sara Alfageeh (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780062945846 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers, Ages 14-17)
From two incredible rising talents comes the fantasy graphic novel Molly Knox Ostertag calls “instantly compelling.”
Aiza has always dreamt of becoming a Knight. It’s the highest military honor in the once-great Bayt-Sajji Empire, and as a member of the subjugated Ornu people, Knighthood is her only path to full citizenship. Ravaged by famine and mounting tensions, Bayt-Sajji finds itself on the brink of war once again, so Aiza can finally enlist in the competitive Squire training program.
It’s not how she imagined it, though. Aiza must navigate new friendships, rivalries, and rigorous training under the unyielding General Hende, all while hiding her Ornu background. As the pressure mounts, Aiza realizes that the “greater good” that Bayt-Sajji’s military promises might not include her, and that the recruits might be in greater danger than she ever imagined.
In this breathtaking and timely story, Aiza will have to choose, once and for all: loyalty to her heart and heritage, or loyalty to the Empire.
(POST-IT SAYS: Really different from any graphic novel I’ve read. Epic fantasy about heroism, manipulation, war, friendship, history, and loyalty. At 300+ pages, this is an intense look at imperialism. Amazing art and absorbing story.)
Publication date: 03/08/2022
Filed under: Book Reviews
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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