Date with Disaster

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

Summary


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.

Review


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: ♥♥♥♥

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:

Autobiographies

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.

Fantasy

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.

Nonfiction

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.

Miscellaneous

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.

Teen Titans Vol 1 Damian Knows Best

REVIEW: Teen Titans Vol 1: Damian Knows Best by Benjamin Percy

Summary


Damian Wayne. Son of Batman. Grandson of Ra’s Al Ghul. Heir to the League of Assassins – until he chose his father’s path instead.

Batman. Absentee father. Damian spends his 13th birthday with his butler. His grandfather sends him a gift that he has been marked for death. Great birthday.

Starfire. Raven. Kid Flash. Beast Boy. All with powers that could make them heroes, but flawed and trapped by their own pasts. Together, as a team, they could be so much more than they have been alone. But trust is hard to come by. And it’s hard to build trust while a team of assassins is trying to kill you.

A ragtag set of heroes will find out if they have any hope of becoming a team.

Review


I really enjoyed this! I’m not much of a DC Comics person, but our family loves the Young Justice series that was on TV several years ago. And I like the idea of the characters on Teen Titans Go, but the stupidity of the show makes me want to beat my head against a wall. But this storyline was smart and enjoyable. I really enjoyed the characterization in this graphic novel. I felt like I had enough information about each character to enjoy the story and not feel like I was “behind” already. I’d like more backstory, but I’m also fascinated by how this group might band together to eventually become a team. And there is plenty of conflict potential still there for future stories.

The art is beautiful. I’m extremely picky about the art styles I enjoy. I’ll give up on a good story if the art doesn’t work for me or becomes a distraction. This art is terrific and really worked for telling this story well. I would definitely read more in this series. Volume 2 should release in March. (Some language)

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Invisible Emmie

REVIEW: Invisible Emmie by Terri Libenson

Summary


Emmie is a quiet, introverted 7th grader. She used to talk more, when her older siblings were at home. But since they left for college, Emmie’s gotten more reserved.

She has a best friend, but they don’t see each other much during the school day. So Emmie keeps her head down and focuses on her art. Drawing helps her with her lonely feelings and the knots she gets in her stomach at times.

When a note about her crush becomes public, Emmie wants to withdraw even more. What if he sees it? How can he miss it when it gets texted to everyone?!

Review


This was great. Emmie’s a terrific character. She reminded me of several girls I know – definitely on the quiet side (although the young ladies I know are more confident than Emmie and have bigger social safety nets). These things that Emmie goes through are pretty typical for middle school. I think most kids will be able to identify with the highs and lows of school at this age.

There’s an interesting twist to the story that I enjoyed. I won’t spoil it, but I would love to discuss it with some students and get their take on it.

Put this in the hands of kids who like books like Smile, Sisters, Roller Girl, Sunny Side Up, Real Friends and other books like those. They’ll feel right at home with Emmie!

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Real Friends

REVIEW: Real Friends by Shannon Hale

Summary


Shannon Hale shares stories of her elementary school years, mostly focused on school friendships in this graphic novel memoir. Girls’ friendships in those years can be fraught with cliques, and girls can get caught up in the ebb and flow of in-crowds and outcasts. Shannon shares experiences from both sides of that continuum. She also faced backlash at home from an older sister who was also struggling with social relationships and friend issues.

Review


This is a lovely graphic novel memoir along the lines of Raina Telgemeier’s Smile or Cece Bell’s El Deafo. If I was still teaching, I would want to have multiple copies of this one because my students would keep this in circulation all year.

For every Queen Bee clique leader in school, there are 3-10 girls who feel the rush of acceptance and the sting of being shunned that cycles in these circles. Even though Shannon’s story is anchored in the late 70s and early 80s pop culture (Charlie’s Angels, Wonder Woman, Michael Jackson, Chicago 17), the friend experiences – and some sibling experiences – span generations.

The art work is beautiful and will grab the attention of graphic novel fans. Also, the end notes explain some of the story factors – anxiety and minor OCD behaviors – as well as sharing a little of the “epilogue” that is Shannon’s life today.

This book can give readers a sense of hope and feeling of being understood. They will hopefully glean that they are not alone in the struggle. Perfect for school and home libraries.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Summer Olympus

REVIEW: Summer Olympus by Shea Fontana

Summary


It’s summer break at Super Hero High. Wonder Woman has been invited to Olympus by her father, Zeus, to spend time with the godly side of her family. She invites her friends to join her but most have plans. Super Girl, Big Barda and Lady Shiva are heading to the Kent’s farm in Kansas for the summer. Batgirl, Beast Boy and Katana are touring Europe. So Bumblebee is the only one who can go to Olympus with Wonder Woman. But one best friend is more than enough!

While there, the heroes meet Wonder Woman’s siblings including Ares, the god of war. Meanwhile, Super Girl and friends are tackling farm chores and the Europe gang is tracking a thief who is stealing Greek artifacts.

It all comes to a head in Olympus when the thief is revealed and the Olympians wage war on Metropolis – and on the kids from Super Hero High!

Review


Such a fun story! I love the graphic novel format which gives an image for all the DC characters. Some are less familiar to me than others, and I appreciate seeing what they look like. It’s especially helpful when I go back to the Lisa Yee middle grade books which aren’t illustrated (Katana, the latest in that series, is out this summer!).

At the core, this story is about identity. Wonder Woman is a demigod – half Olympian god, and half Amazon. Growing up an Amazon, she feels comfortable in Themyscira and knows who she is there. In Olympus, she feels less certain about how she fits in – or if she belongs there at all.

While it starts as just the BFFs, Wonder Woman and Bumblebee, the whole student body of Super Hero High gets into the act when the battle hits Metropolis. This is a fun story for fans of the property and and good introduction for those new to Super Hero High.

Thanks to the publisher, DC Comics, for an electronic review copy of Summer Olympus in exchange for an honest review!

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Unicorn of Many Hats

REVIEW: DC Super Hero Girls Graphic Novels by Shea Fontana

Summary


Graphic novels based on the DC Super Hero High story line (including novels by Lisa Yee).

In the first graphic novel, Finals Crisis, several of the girls are captured by a  mysterious figure right before their final exams. The only way they can escape and get to their exams on time will be to work together.  In the second story, Hits and Myths, the school English teacher goes missing and the Batplane is stolen. The kids will have to work together to solve both mysteries.

DC Super Hero High Graphic Novels

Review


These are fun stories for the young fans of DC heroes – and villains. The comics are fun, allowing each character to show his/her powers (It’s not just the girls, although they are the focus. Beast Boy and the Flash make appearances). I especially liked the first book because there was a “chapter” focus on each of the main girls. The mythology tie in for book 2 wasn’t as strong as I expected it to be. The theme of working together ran through both stories.

These books would be a great starting place for new fans who want to get to know the main characters (Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Supergirl, Katana, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, etc.) with a visual story.

These are also a great tie in with the middle grade novels, pictured below. I have really enjoyed the middle grade series. They give more depth to the characters introduced here in the graphic novels. But I find myself wishing for more pictures when I read the novels. These graphic novels meet that need.

Rating: ♥♥♥

  

Unicorn of Many Hats

REVIEW: Razzle Dazzle Unicorn by Dana Simpson

Summary


Phoebe’s best friend is a unicorn named Marigold Heavenly Nostrils. Phoebe is a bit of an outcast at times. She has trouble with a mean girl named Dakota. She thinks her parents are weird. Through it all, Marigold is there to share secrets of magical creatures, extol the sparkly virtues of being a unicorn, and having Phoebe’s back every step of the way.

Graphic Novels for Kids - Phoebe and her Unicorn

Review


I adore this series! If you are looking for a fun graphic novel for kids, check this series out!  I always find some laugh-out-loud moments in each book, and this is no exception. Marigold is a hoot! There are panels that beg to be read out loud, especially when she declares “UNICORN” in a fancy-shmancy font for the answer to anything. Phoebe’s parents are sassy and fun. Great stories in this book with Max, Phoebe’s friend at school, and Sue, a friend at camp. This is a great book/series for fans of Babymouse, Big Nate, Bird & Squirrel, Binky the Space Cat or the Sunday comics.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Pictures for the other books in this series are below.

Phoebe and her Unicorn series