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We have a wide and varied selection of books for children who enjoy graphic novels, comics and cartoons.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2021 | September 2021 Book of the Month | Billy is desperate to make things change at home. Her father disappeared before he was born: he and mum had been ok when they had been alone together but now his mother’s new partner has spoilt everything. Billy is frightened for himself and he is frighted for his mum. To make a point he runs away for a few days hiding in a semi-ruined pill-box in a local graveyard. Cleverly telling the story in two narratives, from Billy’s perspective and his mum’s and interweaving other characters and their experience from whom they can learn, Pam Smy explores a range of complex emotions thrown up by a difficult situation.
September 2021 Book of the Month | It’s a space adventure, Jim, but not as we know it! Climb aboard the Star Cat, half-spaceship, half-cat, as it travels the infinite void of space. There you’ll meet its well-meaning if frequently malfunctioning crew: Captain Spaceington, Science Officer PLIXX, Pilot and Robot One. They patrol the galaxy fuelled by ice-cream and ever-ready (almost anyway) to save the universe, especially from arch enemy, the four-cornered fiend Dark Rectangle. This chunky collection brings together six of these brilliant stories, first published in the Phoenix Comic, and each one is guaranteed to have you on the edge of your seat one minute, rolling on the floor laughing the next. Space adventures don’t come more comic than this, and comic strip adventures don’t come better than Star Cat.
September 2021 Graphic Novel of the Month | A smart, satisfying re-formatting and expansion of Mega Robo Rumble, Mega Robo Bros Double Threat will have comic fans on the edge of their seats while nodding with knowing grins on their faces. Award-winning Neill Cameron has an undeniable abundance of talent for creating rambunctious, reader-centred super hero adventures that grip, engage and entertain reluctant readers as much as committed fans of standard form novels and committed comic book lovers. Take two brothers, Alex and Freddy - superhero robot brothers, no less, who work as secret agents for a government operation that seeks to protect the world from attacks at the hands of alien robots. As Alex experiences something of an identity crisis (“Everyone always just sort of assumed I was a boy, but am I? Can Robots have babies? And if so, how?”), London is besieged by a new threat in the form of a massive drill-bot. Alongside reeling with high-stakes adventure, Double Threat is also fabulously inclusive, with messages of empathy, fabulous female characters, and incisive, witty deconstructions of gender stereotypes. If that’s not enough, it also boasts a whole lot of hilarious one-liners (“I can see your butt”) and relatable homelife scenarios - even superhero Mega Robo Bros have trouble finding their shoes from time to time.
August 2021 Graphic Novel of the Month | Alex and Freddy are brothers – constantly bickering, often fighting, but thick as thieves. Perfectly normal except for one thing: adopted by a normal family, Alex and Freddy are robots, the most powerful robots on earth in fact, at least when their mum and dad let them. You might have come across them in the Phoenix comic, this book presents one complete adventure – and what an adventure it is! Robot attacks are taking place and Alex is recruited to join the RAID task force (that’s Robotics Analysis, Intelligence and Defence). Freddy is furious that he’s not allowed to join too, but as the younger brother he’s deemed too immature. It all finishes with a terrific showdown against the brothers’ arch-enemy robot, when Freddy finally gets to play his part. Really exciting, really funny, really well drawn, this is mega-good reading.
July 2021 Graphic Novel of the Month | Shortlisted for the Excelsior Award White 9+ KS2 | Seaerra Miller’s Mason Mooney Paranormal Investigator sets out its witty, spooky stall in the amusing introduction: “what you are about to read is a tale so twisted, it’ll knock you out of your socks and on to your bum. It’s got a bloody heart, a haunted house, D-list celebs and it all takes place in the terrifying town of Grimbrook.” And what follows is exactly that - a rollercoaster romp of supernatural adventure and struggles to overcome sceptics, witches, ghosts and grumps as Mason Mooney, Paranormal Investigator, attempts to uncover the secrets of Grimbrook’s most haunted house. With a glorious colour palette that put me in mind of Scooby Doo and Hanna Barbera classics, this is at once smart and wacky, spooky and silly - an immersive joy for 7+ year-olds seeking laughs and scares of the quirkier variety.
This is the second illustrated novel about Phoenix Comic robot star Freddy and is every bit as funny as the first. There’s a new girl at school and she’s super-competitive. Before you know it, Freddy and Aoife are in a competition to determine who’s best, humans or robots. After near disaster in the swimming pool – not the best place to use his rocket boosters – Freddy is determined to win, whatever it takes. His big brother, robot Alex, advises him that no-one wins in an Us vs Them contest but it takes Freddy a bit longer to understand exactly why. Freddy is a terrific character, full of human frailties for all his robot awesomeness, and this is so much fun to read while also delivering an important message about difference, bias and how to counter it. Great stuff, Freddy rules!
July 2021 Book of the Month | Readers of the Phoenix Comic love Jamie Smart’s Bunny vs Monkey adventures, and no wonder. They are totally brilliant, inventive, original and hilarious comic strips. If you’re not in the know, the chief characters are Bunny and his gang Squirrel, Pip and Skunky, and their adversary, causer of mayhem, Monkey. From the opening wintery story, “Gross!” in which Monkey uses smelly mud on a stick to try and advance his plans for world domination, the pace is frenetic, silly and very funny. Story titles such as “The Embiggening!”, “The Destroy-O-Torium” and “Monkey with a Flame Thrower” give you an idea of what else is in store. It’s a comic comic extravaganza and as an added treat, Smart shows readers how to draw Action Beaver and Le Fox. Irresistible!
As its excellent title and cover suggests, Isabel Roxas’s The Adventures of Team Pom: Squid Happens is a quirky comic-style book for 7+ year-olds. Resplendent with the most gorgeous mid-century colour scheme, it boasts endearing oddball characters readers will root for and adore, and an off-the-wall story underpinned by a luminous message of teamwork. When Ruby (“resident genius, armchair philosopher, and aspiring naturalist”), Agnes (“amateur pigeon keeper, lover of potato chips, animals, and shiny objects”), and Roberta (“little boss, idea generator, pork bun aficionado, and list fanatic”) discover a passion for synchronised swimming, they form Team Pom. Fed-up of their team-loser status, and the insults (“what a bunch of nerds”), the trio set-up their own club, but their plans are sent awry when a giant squid appears in their pool. Reckoning that “now that we have a giant squid on our team, the possibilities are endless,” the girls sense hope for their synchronised swimming futures. But not if the conniving Diving Divas have anything to do with it. I loved the New York setting, the madcap plot, and the girls’ spirit of determination - what a wonderfully engaging, energetic book.
Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love. The bestselling LGBTQ+ graphic novel about life, love, and everything that happens in between: this is the fourth volume of Heartstopper, for fans of The Art of Being Normal, Holly Bourne and Love, Simon.
As we know, Marie Curie was a trail blazer in so many ways – a woman in science, the first woman to win Nobel Prizes, a major protagonist in the discovery of radiation and x-rays. We may know much less about her background and her family history. This graphic novel shows us just some of the many problems Marie Curie had to rise above in her native Poland - where women were not allowed at the Universities. Told through a series of panels this biography includes all the scientific discoveries in a simple, easily accessible format that exposes the dangers, as well as the advantages of radiation. The illustrations are clear with plenty of room given to the text so that is easy to read and follow. A good addition to classroom collections – and will have special appeal for those pupils who may prefer a graphic approach or be less enthusiastic readers. There is a companion graphic book from Sunbird Books, It's Her Story: Rosa Parks, the hero behind the Montgomery Bus Strike.
This short (44 pages) graphic novel on the life and impact of Rosa Parks – the woman known as the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement in the USA - packs in a huge amount of information simply and clearly. The author commented she decided that It’s Her Story: Rosa Parks would celebrate a lifetime of activism versus a single moment. And that she would depict late nights, setbacks, and moments of doubt so that children … learn that while change is possible, it doesn’t happen overnight. You have to put in the work. This book does just that – it shows with commendable brevity the many sides of the struggles that Rosa and the movement in the USA faced. The story develops as a young girl is taken to see an exhibition by her grandmother – who tells her granddaughter the story of Rosa’s life. The novel is a model of brevity but which packs in the information we all need to know and remember about Rosa and her struggles. Illustrator Shane Clester has produced Graphic novels for Marvel and Nick Jnr, as well as publishing his own picture books. A book that needs to be on book shelves – not only in Black History Month. There is a companion graphic book from Sunbird Books, It's Her Story: Marie Curie, a biography of the trailblazing scientist.
June 2021 Book of the Month | Recommended by Stephen L Holland, Guest Editor, June 2021: Eliza Duncan is a direct and diligent, no-nonsense teen with a passion for photography and a focus on ghosts. Marjorie Glatt found her laundromat infested with white-sheeted ghosts: with its washes, tumble-dries and ironing, they thought it the perfect health spa. She adopted one called Wendell as her best friend. But now she has been adopted–by her school’s most popular students who rule the roost by putting everyone else down. Marjorie, once a victim of this, feels awkward about her newfound immunity for she fails to speak up for others, particularly when they start picking on Eliza who’s determined that there are ghosts, that she’ll snap one on celluloid, and soon has her sights set on Wendell. Astonishingly complex, this comes with layers of self-awareness, self-examination yet blind spots and moments of betrayal from even the kindest of corners. Also: is this not the most perfect cover? What a narrative drive! Thummler totally owns her unique colour palette.
Graphic novels offer action-packed stories, stunning visuals and are fun! Graphic novels might well appeal to reluctant readers, but the assumption that it's not 'real reading' is far from true. Literacy experts, including our own professional librians at LoveReading4Schools, champion the graphic novel as an excellent way improve your child's reading and to encourage a familiarity and love of books. Graphic novels have plenty of text and often complex plots to follow, characters grow and develop - and the artwork is absolutely stunning adding to the allure and entertainment value of a graphic novel.
With a foundation in Japan (manga) and France (bandes dessinées) the genre is incredibly popular, the characters often entwined in gaming and movies to create a wonderfully imaginative fantasy world into which children can immerse themselves.
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