Claws for Concern

BOOK NEWS: February 20, 2018

This is a small week for new releases, but there are still some fantastic choices for this week!

Books for Kids

Anywhere Artist – A celebration of creativity and imagination. I can’t wait to see this one in person. The illustration style is exactly what I love.
Florette – A girl who is moving longs to take her garden with her to the city. This looks lovely.
The Lost Penguin (Feb 22) – Kate Hindley’s art work is what stopped me in my tracks on this one. Her work always catches my eye. This is the second Oliver and Patch story. This time, Oliver and friends try to find a lost penguin. This looks too precious to miss! Right now, I can only find this book listed as an e-book.
The Rabbit Listened – When something terrible happens, all the animals want to do something to help, but the rabbit just listens. This looks like a tender-hearted story.

Books for Older Kids/Teens/Young Adults

Sticky Notes – A dad’s forgetfulness becomes something more serious. I want to cry just from reading the description. This will be an emotional one, but I still want to read it.
R Is for Rebel – A girl in reform school plans to follow in her parents’ footsteps to resist the government that wants to silence them. I am fascinated by the description of this story for teens. This is on my list.

Books for Adults

Claws for Concern – In the 9th book in the Cat in the Stacks Mystery series, Charlie and Diesel are investigating mysteries close to Charlie’s own family. I’ll be reviewing this one next week!
The Bible Book – I love this series of informational books by the folks at DK. I have several in my personal collection. This one focuses on the Bible – history, personalities and major events recorded in its pages.


REVIEW: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton


In the world of Orléans, the Belles are a gift to the world from the goddess of beauty. The God of the Sky turned the humans of Orléans grey and ugly in a fit of anger. The Bells were sent to bring beauty back to the world.

Camellia is one of six Belles debuting this year. When each of the girls has displayed her skills to the queen at the Beauté Carnaval, the queen will assign the girls to the place where they will serve the people. Only one of them can be “the favorite” and serve the royal family and their most honored guests at the palace. And Camellia – Camille – is determined to win.

But nothing goes as Camille expects. There are secrets at the palace. And at the tea houses where the Belles serve. Even back at the home where they were raised. Secrets. Lies. Manipulations. Betrayals. Nothing has prepared Camille for the reality of her new life or what will be asked of her.


Wow! This book left me feeling stunned. It was nothing like I expected. It doesn’t look like a fantasy from the cover, but it very much is. There’s a lot of world building that went into the development of this story. It took me a little while to get the feel of it. It’s about beauty on one level – about being the best of the best. I think I was expecting something along the line of The Selection, but this is something entirely different.

I’m can’t exactly say I enjoyed this. I didn’t click with the main character. And characters are almost always what makes a book special for me. There are enough secrets and twists in this that it’s hard to feel like you really know the characters.  And Camille is stuck between a rock and a hard place. She’s not even sure who she’s going to be in the face of some events.

At the same time, the story was absolutely captivating. I was rooting for Camille against her foes. I was breathless as things accelerated toward the end. The finish left me at loose ends, wondering what could possibly happen next. Underneath the beauty pieces is a dark, twisty and suspenseful tale of madness, betrayal and manipulation. It’s brilliantly written. And while I feel no draw to a character or my usual feelings about a great book, I also know I will have to read the next book to find out what happens. (Trigger warning for assault)

Thanks to Netgalley and Freeform for the opportunity to read an electronic copy of this book for review purposes. While it was nothing like I was expecting, and at the same time it was excellent.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥½

She's Still There Wellness Revelation

REVIEWS: Two Self-Help Winners!

I’ve been having a hard time finding a day for these reviews, but I enjoyed the books so much, I didn’t want to push them off any longer. So today, you get two reviews. Happy Valentine’s Day! Show some love to yourself and check these out.

She’s Still There – Summary

Have you ever found yourself in a moment or at a cross roads and wondered “How did I get here?” And not in a good way! You had these plans, these dreams, these expectations. But nothing in your life looks like you thought it would.

Maybe you drifted. Maybe you took a short cut, lowered a standards, or took your eyes off the path and that changed your course. Maybe you got distracted. That temporary move, temporary job, “short season” of something has become your permanent location. Maybe circumstances outside your control have left you in a place you never intended to be. No matter how you got here, you can find your way back. The person you were once upon a time is still there. And Chrystal Evans Hurst wants to help you find her.

She’s Still There – Review

While this book is targeted to women in the title and in many of the examples, this really works for anyone. The book is broken into 6 sections with multiple chapters. Each chapter has reflection questions and Bible verses to go through. There are practical applications for every point from doing an assessment of your gifts and skills to ways of setting small goals to help you stay on track.

I read the book as part of a study with Proverbs 31. This included videos and Bible study ideas and conference calls. And all of that “bonus” content was great. But the foundation is the book, and it is all you really need to take a long look at your life and your current direction.

I found the book both challenging and encouraging. The writing is approachable. There’s a “me too” feel where the author shares from her own journey. She’s not perfect or an expert. She’s lived this and coaches from her place a few steps ahead of you. Great for personal study or for group study. I highly recommend this.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥


The Wellness Revelation – Summary

The subtitle for this book is “Lose what weighs you down so you can love God, yourself and others.” For a diet/health/fitness book, this has a HUGE faith component.

There are 8 sections of the book, designed to lead the reader on an 8-week journey. Each chapter has five components, easily broken down for weekday usage if you choose. The first two sections include a chunk of information and encouragement and often an action step or two. There’s a set of Bible study questions in another section, reflection questions in the fourth, and a final “testimony” piece at the end.

The journey is intentionally slow paced. It doesn’t address much with food until week 3, and the exercise kicks in in week 4. This is by design. The author spends two weeks setting a spiritual foundation, encouraging readers to approach food and movement from healthy places. And she reinforces this message in each workout, podcast and Facebook Live posting.

The Wellness Revelation – Review

I loved this whole process from the beginning. I loved the faith pieces that are part of every breath of the program. I read the book as part of an online course through Facebook, and every leader online encouraged participants to seek the Lord and follow His leading on food, on movement, on pacing and on how our past influences our present.

There’s enough material in the book and online (workouts, podcasts, etc) to make this process a full time job. I had to choose to be content to do what I could, to emphasize the parts that were encouraging to me and be okay when I couldn’t keep up with it all. I’ve become a fan of their online workouts at RevWellTV (available for a monthly fee) – there are different types of workouts, different instructors, and different skill/intensity levels. Something for everyone.

If you feel like now is the time to invest in your health, I can’t recommend this book and the people behind it highly enough.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥


Date with Disaster

REVIEW: DC Superhero Girls: Date with Disaster! by Shea Fontana


Romance is in the air as the Super Hero High kids plan a dance and Batgirl sees her dad, Commissioner Gordon, on a date. Even Principal Waller has a boyfriend. Batgirl signs her dad up for a dating service because she doesn’t like the person he’s dating. But her plans to find true love for her dad backfire.

While the plans for the dance start coming together, and the kids start matchmaking for one another, there’s an explosion at STAR Labs. Dr Faulkner is hurt, and the mayor is trying to hide something. The kids will have to wait to put on their dancing shoes until they sort out what is really going on at STAR Labs.


This was a fun story that really held together well.  There was a nice level of tension from chapter to chapter leading up to the end. The STAR Labs piece was especially well done. The matchmaking was more of a means to an end. It got people into places where they need to be for other parts of the story to take place.

Poison Ivy and Lois Lane had expanded roles in this story which was a lot of fun. The rest of the girls worked various angles on the mystery. The guys – Flash and Cyborg in particular – were more involved in the dance portions of the story.

This will be great for fans of the other graphic novels in this series as well as fans of the Lisa Yee middle grade novels and other DC properties. This is my favorite book so far in this graphic novel series.

Thanks to Netgalley and DC Comics for the opportunity to read an electronic review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Rating: ♥♥♥♥


BOOK NEWS: February 13, 2018

Happy Valentine’s week! If your Valentine’s plans and your Lenten plans are in conflict this week making a chocolate celebration difficult, consider a nice new book to celebrate LOVE. This week’s books left me pushing the requesting limits of my local library. Here are a few books releasing this week.

Books for Kids

The Boo-Boos That Changed the World: A True Story About an Accidental Invention – The history of the band-aid! I love nonfiction picture books like this. Can’t wait to check this one out.

Books for Older Kids/Teens/Young Adults

The 11:11 Wish – A girl trying to re-invent herself at a new school makes a wish at 11:11. This sounds like All the Answers and similar stories – which I adore! This is on my list for this week.
The Ambrose Deception – Three kids compete for a scholarship by solving puzzles, but they start to wonder if the competition is even real. This is at the top of my list for the week. It sounds exactly like the sort of book I enjoy. I’ve already requested it form my local library.
The Art of the Swap – Two girls switch places Freaky-Friday-style as they try to solve a 100+ year old art theft. I really enjoyed this one! I’ll be reviewing it in March, but I’ll say right now it was a lot of fun.
Arts and Thefts – Sequel to (the fabulous) Under Locker and Key. I’ll be reviewing this one next week, but I will tell you right now if you know a mystery/suspense fan, get these two books asap. They are terrific.
Detective Nosegoode and the Music Box Mystery – First in a new mystery series (reissue of an older series) about an older gentlemen and his talking dog who solve mysteries.
Granted – The latest book from the author of the outstanding Ms. Bixby’s Last Day is about a wish-granting fairy. I will be checking this one out because I think the author is terrific. I heard him speak at a local event last year, and I enjoyed his sense of humor and his passion for his readers.
The Not-So-Boring Letters of Private Nobody – During a school assignment on the Civil War,  three 7th graders become friends and learn something unexpected. I am so excited to read this one! I’ve requested this from my library, too.
Samantha Spinner and the Super-Secret Plans – I’m scheduled to review this one at the end of the month. I am so looking forward to reading this story about a girl whose favorite uncle goes missing.
The Heat Is On – Book 2 in the Junior Chef series that takes place during a kids cooking competition. Books include cooking tips for kids.
Anthology of Amazing Women: Trailblazers Who Dared to Be Different – Releasing a few weeks before Women’s History month, this anthology highlights women in history. Full page illustration facing a page of biographical information. It looks to have a similar format to Little Leaders with a different art style. Great for classroom, home, and library use.
#PrettyBoyMustDie – A teen CIA operative’s cover is blown when a classmate posts a picture of him online and his enemies decide to drop into his 6th period chem class – literally. My library only lets me request three e-books a day. This is the third for me today. I. CAN. NOT. WAIT.
Honor Among Thieves – First in a new science fiction series where a teen is selected for an elite team of humans chosen to explore the outer edges of space. This book makes me wish the library would let me request four books a day. This is on my list.
Precious Dreadful – A teen who joins a writing group at the library starts to remember some things from her past. This is on my list, too.
The Traitor Prince – Book 3 in the Ravenspire series. I have the whole series on my TBR list on Goodreads. Magic and royals and betrayal, oh my!

Books for Adults

The Cat of the Baskervilles  – Book 3 in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series. I have this series on my list, too. I love anything that ties to a bookshop!
Death by a Whisker – Book 2 in the Cat Rescue series about the murder of a shopping channel personality.
A Grave Issue – First book in a new Funeral Parlor mystery series. I loved this book; I’ll be reviewing it here next week. I already have book two on my list, too.
Marvel’s Black Panther: The Art of the Movie – Our family loves these Art of books for Marvel movies. I’m sure there is a better cover image than this one, but this is all I could find in advance. We already have our movie tickets for later this week. I think this movie will be outstanding!
I Can Only Imagine – A memoir by Bart Millard (of the Christian music group Mercy Me) about his dad’s transformation from abusive father to man of God. This promises to be a powerful book.


REVIEW: The Gatekeepers by Jen Lancaster


In the Chicago suburb of North Shore, excellence is the status quo. In the Breakfast Club era of their parents, kids fit into one of many stereotypes. But in North Shore, the teens meet them all. It’s not sufficient to be smart OR athletic. You must be both. And you have to be the best. Best on the team. Super involved in extracurriculars. And planning and prepping for an Ivy League college all through high school.

The kids of North Shore deliver on all of these expectations. Their test scores and rates of college admission are among the best. This in turn draws in more (wealthy) families who can give their kids everything money can buy.

But North Shore has a hidden dark side. These kids who seem to have every advantage can’t always keep up with the pressure. Two kids committed suicide this summer alone. How does North Shore respond? A couple days for grieving and then back to the grind.

How long can they keep this up? What will it take to stop the cycle?


Wow. I was drawn to this story about high-achieving, uber-pressured kids who step up to help one another when they lose one of their own. But it took awhile to get to that part of the story. While part of me wondered when the story would really kick into gear, another part was okay with the wait because the characters were interesting. The slow build gave me time to get to know them and care about them.

By the final third of the story, I had a hard time setting the book down. I kept thinking about the characters and wondering how everything would shake out. The ending was perfect. I would go back and read the last few chapters again. Once some of the main characters owned and shared their true thoughts and feelings about their losses, I was entranced.

This book talks about difficult subjects – teen suicide, drug use, abuse, mental health – honestly and authentically. There’s a LOT here that would be great for group discussion with teens. I read this right after As You Wish which made for an interesting pairing. There are many stark differences between the books, but the pressure on teens is a consistent theme in both. I highly recommend this book for older teens, young adults and adults, especially those who work with and care about teens.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥½

Aliens Abroad

REVIEW: Aliens Abroad by Gini Koch


The Distant Voyager is the first manned long-range spacecraft for Earth. And it’s about to leave on its first mission. Kitty and the gang are there for a tour and Jeff’s big speech before the launch.

Unexpectedly (although, par for the course in Kitty’s life), the ship takes off early with Jeff, half of the Presidential Cabinet, Kitty, their kids, and a good portion of their extended family on board. The ship’s AI is uncooperative at best, there are signs of sabotage, and no one on board seems to be able to control their course – or change it.

Whoever is controlling things knows Kitty – the “Warrior Queen” – is a protector. If she can help a person – or a planet – in need, she will. And there are several races in dire need of rescuing. So while she might have been a reluctant participant at first, Kitty is on board for saving the day. Because if Kitty can’t help, the whole galaxy might not survive.


Wow! This was so fun! First of all, this is my favorite book series for adults. So any addition to the series, any book with these characters, is going to be one I am eagerly anticipating. Second, most of the book takes place in previously unknown parts of the galaxy. There are tons of new alien species and planets and galactic politics to explore. Third, there are at least four major events in the book. Reading this felt like binge watching a favorite show or binge reading a favorite book series all in one sitting. I got through the first event and still had hundreds of pages to go! I waited for this book for a long time. The wait was completely worthwhile.

Most of my favorite characters were along for the ride on this trip, so I enjoyed the little tidbits added to their stories. Continuing one of my favorite things from Alien Education, the kids play an important role in this book. In fact, the chapters where their role is really expanded I read twice. There’s a nice balance between the expected interplay and relationships from the series and all the new characters. In fact, to me the book felt weighted toward the new characters and events which gave this a fresh feel. I feel like this book and the next (Aliens Like Us) are going to have the same “interlude” feel that Universal Alien and Alien Separation did earlier in the series. It will advance the characters and the big picture, but it will keep the series from feeling like it is following a pattern.

Kudos to Gini Koch for this fast, fun, and fresh addition to the series. It’s everything I have come to expect from her in the last 6 years since I discovered the series. Many thanks to Netgalley and the folks at DAW (Penguin/Random House) for the opportunity to review an electronic review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My personal copy will be arriving any time now so I can start a re-read right away. Goodreads shows at least 4 more books coming in the series; I have all of them on my wish list and have pre-ordered Aliens Like Us so I don’t miss a moment of the action. If you love science fiction (with a little steamy romance thrown in ), I think you should follow my lead. If this is a new series to you, start with book one, Touched by an Alien, and carve out some serious reading time. This is a series you don’t want to miss.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Marabel and the Book of Fate

REVIEW: Marabel and the Book of Fate by Tracy Barrett


The celebration of Prince Marco and Prince Marabel’s 13th birthday is a big deal. Moreso for Marco as the Book of Fate says he is the Chosen One. Sometimes Marabel feels like an afterthought.  She has to hide that she is taking fencing lessons because her father thinks it is a waste of time. On the day of the party, Marabel see something suspicious during the screening of party guests, but no one takes her seriously.

Just before the clock strikes 13:13 – the moment of Marco’s birth – at the party, Mab, the queen of the Evils of the Desolate Barrens reveals herself and kidnaps Marco.

Marabel is determined to go after her twin, but the king orders her to stay out of the way and locks her in her room. Marabel, her maid and best friend, Ellie, and Floriano the unicorn sneak out of the castle anyway to track down Queen Mab and rescue Marco, no matter what dangers the Barrens hold.


This was a delight from start to finish. I loved that the author acknowledged the usual fairy tale clichés right from the beginning. The tone of the book was fun from page one.

My heart broke for Marabel. She had a great relationship with all her siblings, but she was shunted to the side – or forgotten – over and over again. Her twin had to remind the king it was her birthday, too! None of this made Marabel bitter or mean. She’s a smart, kind and determined girl. All of those qualities helped her on her quest.

This reminded me of the Hero’s Guide series (by Christopher Healy) or the Wide-Awake Princess series (by E.D. Baker) in tone. I adored both of those series. Marabel’s story fits in with them perfectly. If you have fans of either of those series, I think you can had them this book confidently.

There’s plenty of adventure, some magic (but a lot more smarts), and some fantastic creatures (the dragon, Hotshot, is my favorite). There’s a thread of girl-power through the story. I loved that none of it was at the expense of the male leaders. The wrap up was terrific. I’d read more stories with Marabel and her friends!

Thanks to Netgalley and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for the opportunity to read an electronic copy of Marabel and the Book of Fate for review purposes.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥½

Aliens Abroad

BOOK NEWS: February 6, 2018

Happy February! As thoughts turn to love, let’s look at some of the books releasing this week that you might love!

Books for Kids


Be Kind – A sweet-looking book exploring ways to be kind. I adored one of the author’s previous books, Sophie’s Squash. I can’t wait to check this one out!
The Big Bed – A girl offers her dad his own bed – a camping cot – so she can take over his spot in the big bed. Adorable!
Bloom – Picture book biography of fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli. Picture book biographies are fantastic ways to introduce kids to nonfiction and also to historic figures they might not already know.
I Walk with Vanessa – Another book on kindness, a timely topic. Looking forward to reading this one, too.
Idea Jar – A teacher has students fill a jar with story ideas. When the ideas escape the jar, hijinks ensue! This looks fantastic! This is a great week for exploring new picture books.
Nobody’s Duck – An alligator finds a mysterious duck left on his lawn. What a hoot!
Rabbit & Possum – A best friends story where one friend is adventurous and the other is cautious. I love stories like this that value different personality qualities.
The Tiptoeing Tiger – Clumsy Little Tiger looks for someone to scare. This looks cute.
Wordy Birdy – Can a group of friends save their pal who talks far more than she listens? The cover illustration for this caught my attention. I can’t wait to read this one.
Better Together – Book 3 in the precious Heartwood Hotel early chapter book series. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in the series. I highly recommend this series for lower and middle elementary classrooms (1st-4th grade).
Cardinal’s Caper – Now that football season is wrapping up, thoughts turn to baseball. This is book 14 in the Ballpark Mysteries early chapter book series.

Books for Older Kids/Teens/Young Adults


Action Presidents: George Washington AND Abraham Lincoln – The first two books in the new Action Presidents series described as Wimpy Kid meets Who Was
Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire – First book in a new fantasy adventure series about a boy in a mountain scouting group facing dark and ancient forces
Bringing Me Back – A boy who is shunned at school and whose mom is in jail discovers a bear with her head stuck in a pail but who flees from anyone trying to help her. He is determined to help the bear even though the rest of the town has written her off. This is on my library list!
Checked – A boy gives up his favorite pastime – hockey – to pay for his dog’s chemo. The full description of this book almost had me in tears. This is on my library list, too.
Dark Side of the Moon – Book 2 in the Space Runners series about a boy who wins a trip to the moon but discovers a lot more than he bargained for. This sounds like something our family would enjoy, in the same vein as Randoms.
Date with Disaster – The latest graphic novel starring the kids at DC Super Hero High focuses on some dating disasters. I’ll be reviewing this one next week (hint – I enjoyed it!)
Dragon Bones – Book 2 in the Unwanteds Quest series, a second series after the original Unwanteds series. I read the very first Unwanted books and the rest are on my TBR list. If you or your kids enjoy fantasy, check out these series.
Geeked Out: A Lame New World – A spoofy dystopian middle grade story. Sign me up!
Marabel and the Book of Fate – A princess ignores her kingdom’s low expectations of her to go in search of her kidnapped twin brother. I will be reviewing this tomorrow (hint – I enjoyed this one, too!).
Payback on Poplar Lane – Competing middle-schoolers try to start businesses in their neighborhood. This sounds like The Lemonade War for older kids. This is on my library list, too! (This actually released last week)
Who Was Booker T Washington?
Who Was Henry VIII?
All We Can Do Is Wait – After a bridge collapse, a group of teens meet in the hospital waiting room as they wait for word about their loved ones. This sounds like an emotional book for teens/young adults.
Banished – Book 3 in the storymakers series. I have had this fairy tale series on my TBR since the first book released. I need to get caught up soon!
The Belles – The Belles control beauty and Camellia longs to be the best of the Belles, but that role comes with a cost. The book world has been buzzing about this book for months. I am scheduled to review it next week.
Down and Across – A teen who is struggling with big life decisions sneaks off to Washington DC for answers and finds adventure. This is at the top of my list for this week.
The Queen’s Rising – A renaissance story of a young woman whose financial savior has secret motives. The full description of this one left me thinking about The False Prince, but for an older audience. This is on my list, too.
Live Fearless: A Call to Power, Passion and Purpose – This nonfiction book for teens challenges teens to set aside fear and focus on their God-given gifts.

Books for Adults

Aliens Abroad – Book 16 in my all-time favorite science fiction/romance series for adults. I pre-ordered this book a year ago, and I have the next book pre-ordered as well. I don’t play around when it comes to this series. I’ll be reviewing this one later this week. (Hint – I’m loving it)
The Fast and the Furriest – Book 5 in the Second Chance Cat mystery series. These are in my TBR pile.
How to Stop Time – A man who has been alive for centuries is forbidden to fall in love. But that might be just what he needs to save him. I’ve enjoyed some of the author’s work for kids. I’m looking forward to trying this one out.
Masterpiece – The latest from Christian fiction darling Francine Rivers. An artist and his new assistant struggle with their secrets. I’m looking forward to reading this one.
Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved – This memoir looks at the “prosperity gospel” thought pattern in light of the author’s stage IV cancer diagnosis. I expect this will be a tough read, but I am committed to reading more nonfiction this year, and this is on my list.
Girl Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant To Be – I am generally a fan of any Christian self-help book that looks at identity. This is on my list.
An Imperfect Woman: Letting Go of the Need to Have It All Together – Just read that title! Sign me up for this one, too.
Jesus Calling – Peace – If you are looking for a devotional, I don’t think you can go wrong with anything from Sarah Young.
Make a List: How a Simple Practice Can Change Our Lives and Open Our Hearts – I am crazy about lists, so I have to read this one!
A Prairie Girl’s Faith: The Spiritual Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder – I am not personally a Wilder fan, but I know this will hit the spot with her fans!
Silver Hair: Say Goodbye to the Dye And Let Your Natural Light Shine – A Handbook – Since I stopped fighting my grey hair, I’ve become more interested in reading about celebrating that “sparkle.” I pre-ordered this months ago. Looking forward to its arrival this week.

SW Original Trilogy

SATURDAY SMORGASBORD: Must-Have Graphic Novels for Kids

Recently a teacher friend asked me for my list of “must-have” graphic novels for her classroom (5th and 6th graders). Graphic novels are fun for a lot of kids. While some folks feel like it’s not “real reading,” that is not really true. With graphic novels, students get to practice thinking through the sequencing of a story. Visual learners get a lot of material to work with as they read the pictures as well as the text. Graphic novels can give extra support to kids who are still working on word decoding because the pictures support the text. They can introduce kids to material they might not try otherwise, but they explore because of this format. And for kids who feel like reading is a chore, graphic novels can make reading feel like fun.

Here is the list I gave her for my personal “must have” graphic novels:


Some of the most popular graphic novels for this age group are autobiographies. Raina Telgemeier is maybe the best known for telling her personal stories in this format. When I was teaching, her books were always checked out from the library from the first day of check outs to the end of the school year. Many kids think of biographies and autobiographies as dry books that someone will have to force them to read. These books challenge that impression. You can read my review of Real Friends here.


I personally read a lot of fantasy, so these graphic novels are ones I read and enjoy. Wings of Fire: The Dragonet Prophecy and The Lightning Thief are both based on novels. The Wings of Fire book series is 10 books long to date, with book 11 releasing this summer. The Rick Riordan mythology books have been around for years. Three of the original Percy Jackson books have been released as graphic novels, too. His entire Egyptian mythology series, The Kane Chronicles, as well as two books in the Heroes of Olympus series have been released in this format as well. HiLo is an original series that I fell in love with when I was teaching. I’ve reviewed the DC Super Hero Girls GN series here on the blog before. I received the Star Wars graphic novels for Christmas (one volume for the original trilogy, another for the prequels, and a stand alone book for The Force Awakens). I love the art style in these and I know my students would have loved these too.


Some of my students had the idea that nonfiction books were a drag. Thankfully there are a lot of visually appealing nonfiction books being introduced for kids, including these two series of graphic novels. Science Comics covers a variety of topics from dogs to dinosaurs to volcanoes and rockets. Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales cover different time periods in history. Readers will find some swearing in these books as the author directly quotes some historical figures. This series has covered Harriet Tubman, Nathan Hale, World War II and other topics.


These final recommendations were “maybes” for my friend. The Action Bible is a graphic novel of the Bible which we had in the school library. I thought it was a great way to get reluctant students to check out the Bible for themselves (I taught at a Christian school). Binky the Space Cat is targeted for a younger reader than my friend is teaching. But the stories I think still work for older elementary students. My younger readers zeroed in on Babymouse and the Lunch Lady graphic novels and sometimes missed Binky. I still love this series and think it is great for kids of any age. I have blogged about Phoebe and her Unicorn many times. These are more comic strip books than graphic novels that tell essentially one story from start to finish. The quality and humor make them perfect for the older elementary crowd. Finally, there is a graphic novel for A Wrinkle in Time. I have not read it (yet!), but with the movie releasing later this year, it could be a terrific addition to a classroom (or home) library.