Wednesday, April 29, 2009

James Sturm is a cofounder of the Center for Cartoon Studies and wrote, with Rich Tommaso, the wonderful Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow, a graphic biography that is leagues better than the Capstone, Rosen or Lucent ones. Done in period style with copious end notes, this tells the story of Paige's career and semi-retirement from the point of view of another Negro League player. (I think. That's my only trouble with the book. The narrator is not named, that I could find, and it's confusing at points as to who is narrating.) This would be an excellent start to a graphic collection for those who really don't want such books. I don't have manga, mainly because they fall apart and often have scantily clad girls, but my collection of titles like this one is slowly growing.

Stewart and Riddell's Barnaby Grimes: Curse of the Night wolf has a gripping first chapter-- Barnaby is in terrible pain because of an evil doctor. We then follow his work as a "tick tock boy" who delivers messages in the seedy side of Victorian London by jumping over the rooftops and gets into all sorts of paranormal intrigue, this time involving werewolves. Having just read Catherine Johnson's post an An Awfully Big Adventure on violence as a way to appeal to boys, I looked at this with a critical eye, because this one did have a lot of that. Came to the conclusion that as long as the violence is directed against werewolves and evil doctors, we allow it. Did like this one.

Having just read Vivian Vande Velde's Heir Apparent, which was really great, I was a little disappointed in Wizard at Work(2003), but just because it seemed like it was for a much younger audience. A young wizard/teacher is on a summer vacation, but everywhere he goes he gets into situations where he must help someone with a problem that requires magic. This would be good for students in third grade who want to read Harry Potter but are not able, or for a class read aloud for a fantasy unit, since the chapters are self-contained stories and it's a slim 134 pages.

My reluctant reader finished The Clique in two nights and wants the second book. Bookworm had a good point in a comment-- it bothers her how overly grown up the girls are. What could appeal more to 6th grade girls? In my house, this book was a huge jumping off point for discussions on boys, bullying, and friends, as well as quality literature versus books that are just fun, so I don't mind my daughter reading them. I do feel a little guilty about sending them off with my students.


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