Author: : Carla Jablonski ; illustrated by Leland Purvis ; color by Hilary Sycamore.
Series: Resistance trilogy
Recommended for: Grades 5-9
Call Number/Link: GN J JAB
Synopsis: A couple’s bucolic French town is almost untouched by the ravages of WWII. When their friend goes into hiding and his Jewish parents disappear, they realize they must take a stand.
Review: This is a tough book, but important. It is about the occupation of France as told from the point of view of children. The authors work hard to make the story gripping without being melodramatic. The excellently capture the fear and uncertainty of war coupled with the power of family. End notes in the book talk a bit more about the war and reasonably discuss the idea that war is filled with shades of grey, explaining some of the ideas as to why people might collaborate with the Nazis.
Author Archives: Christopher
Title: Calamity Jack
Author: Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, Nathan Hale illustrator.
Series: N/A but “sequel” to Rapunzel’s revenge
Recommended for: 4-8th Grade
Call Number/Link: GN J HAL
Synopsis: Jack likes to think of himself as a criminal mastermind…with an unfortunate amount of bad luck. A schemer, plotter, planner, trickster, swindler…maybe even thief? One fine day Jack picks a target a little more giant than the usual, and one little bean turns into a great big building-destroying beanstalk. With help from Rapunzel (and her trusty braids), a pixie from Jack’s past, and a man with inventions from the future, they just might out-swindle the evil giants and put his beloved city back in the hands of good people…while catapulting themselves and readers into another fantastical adventure.
Review: This is a great book, a fine sequel to Rapunzel’s revenge. This features a coming of age tale of a trickster hero realizing his potential. The art is magnificent and invoked a strange mix of steampunk and classic fairy tale styling. Add to it an element of mystery–“Who are the ants?” and you have a rollicking tale that is sure to impress.
Title: LumberJanes: Friendship to the max
Author: Noelle Stevenson
Recommended for: Grades 4-8
Call Number/Link: GN J LUMBERJANES V. 2
“Five best friends spending the summer at Lumberjane scout camp…defeating yetis, three-eyed wolves, and giant falcons…what’s not to love?! Friendship to the max! Jo, April, Mal, Molly and Ripley are five best pals determined to have an awesome summer together…and they’re not gonna let any insane quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way!”
Review: I really, really wanted to love Lumberjanes, but frankly Volume two left me cold. Volume one started out strong with plenty of mystery and questions. Admittedly there was a gap in my reading of volume one to volume two, but frankly the skip left me mostly lost, and by the time I caught the thread of the adventure, the book was over. A decent recap and perhaps a Dramatis personæ of the characters is a must for the book, as the shift in art style leaves two of the characters looking very visually similar.
Volume two is exceptionally short, almost half the book’s run time is devoted to a mixture of art inserts and previews for other titles. What makes this even more annoying is that there is apparently a volume three. I feel that if there was enough material for a third volume, than two should not have had as much filler material. However, that there is a volume three makes me pause, because it gives me hope that there will be a big ending with a more reasonable conclusion. Missing this ending makes two feel a poor choice to recommend for now.
Title: Cleopatra in space
Author: Mike Maihack
Series: Cleopatra in space
Recommended for: 3-7th Grade
Call Number/Link: GN J CLEOPATRA V. 1
Synopsis: When a young Cleopatra (yes, THAT Cleopatra) finds a mysterious tablet that zaps her to the far, REALLY far future, she learns of an ancient prophecy that says she is destined to save the galaxy from the tyrannical rule of the evil Xaius Octavian. She enrolls in Yasiro Academy, a high-tech school with classes like algebra, biology, and alien languages (which Cleo could do without), and combat training (which is more Cleo’s style). With help from her teacher Khensu, Cleo learns what it takes to be a great leader, while trying to figure out how she’s going to get her homework done, make friends, and avoid detention!
Review: Cleopatra in space is a happy meaI, it is a sausage pizza, an IKEA LACK table, it is an old familiar movie you run across on cable and stop to watch. It is a bog-standard “chosen one” plot featuring a plucky heroine, a mixed bag of competent sidekicks, an exasperated non-human mentor, and a hint of an overarching dark secret by the “good guys” leaders. Cleopatra in Space not a great book, but it is an effective one.
This review may well sounds like I am disrespecting CiS, but the thing is, this is a well-made book. It features the exact mixture of adventure and daring do that a child would enjoy. It features a female PoC as a lead and has a few more books in the series to come. As a graphic novel the complexity is decently easy with wonderful illustrations.
Title: Lowriders in space
Author: Cathy Camper, Illustrator: Raul Gonzalez
Series: Lowriders in space
Recommended for: 3-8th grade
Call Number/Link: GN J LOWRIDERS V. 1
Synopsis: Lupe, Flapjack, & Elirio customize their car into a low rider for the Universal Car Competition to win the cash prize that will enable them to buy their own garage.
Review: I loved this book! From its heady use of ink pens in illustration and rough paper design esthetic to its can-do spirit, this book has a real DIY empowerment idea going on. This book is a wonderful tale of three friends working together to achieve a dream. Told as seemingly by black, red, & blue ink pens on the back of found paper, this story relates the story of a magical car ride through space as the heroes try to win a competition. Add to it a heavy dose of Spanish (with explaining footnotes for these possibly new words and slang) and this is a book has a subtle teachable element without feeling like it lectures. Each of the the three heroes of the story are relatable and the power of their friendship is quite excellent.
Title: Roller Girl
Author: Victoria Jamieson
Recommended for: Grades 4-8
Call Number/Link: GN J JAMIESON, V.
Synopsis: Astrid is an impressionable grade schooler about to transition to Middle School. In the summer prior to the 6th grade, she attends a roller deby event and is inspired to be become a roller derby athlete. She attends a summer roller derby camp and learns a bit more about herself, even as she and her childhood friend begin to drift apart.
Review: Roller girl is a clever take on the middle schooler coming of age story. I am a fan of roller derby and this book did not disappoint. The main character Astrid is realistic and feels like a preteen, figuring out her place in the world. . The lost of friendship as Astrid and her best friend grow apart feels very real with a lack of melodrama. The book is filled with subtle nuances of character and told with a light touch. While seemingly inspired by Raina Telgemeier, I found this book to be even better than Smile
The best part was the underlying message, not of “believe in yourself and you will win” but “work hard and do your best.” It lacked the clichés of most “sports” books, in terms of underdogs and sudden mastery of difficult skills. I enjoyed that Astrid was still somewhat unskilled at roller derby in the end—though better than the beginning. If this turns into a series, I will be quite happy.
Title: Space case
Author: Stuart Gibbs
Series: Moon Base Alpha
Recommended for: Grades 3-8
Call Number/Link: J FICTION GIBBS, S.
Synopsis: It’s a murder mystery on the moon. Twelve-year-old Dashiell Gibson is living on the moon and bored out of his mind. Kids aren’t allowed on the lunar surface, meaning they’re trapped insid. Then Moon Base Alpha’s top scientist turns up dead. Dash senses there’s foul play afoot, but no one believes him. Dr. Holtz was on the verge of an important new discovery, and it’s a secret that could change everything for the Moonies;a secret someone just might kill to keep…
Review: Stuart Gibbs comes out strong in this classic locked-room inspired tale of mystery. Plenty of suspects, plus a colorful science fiction setting make this book a strong recommend. The book has an excellent sense of pacing and a good humor, even in light of the death being the centerpiece of the book. The ending was a little telegraphed, if one reads mysteries, but should be enough of a surprise to newer readers, not gorged on classic mystery tropes. The ending also added a world shaking premise changer, which should be interesting to see developed in a later novel.