Peyo. The Smurfs Anthology #1
25 June 2013, Papercutz
Copy provided by publisher
This larger format book is a great overview of the creation of the Smurfs (which started as just a part of this author's Johan and Peewit comic) along with some of the earlier comics. There's even some World War II history involved-- I had no idea! My favorite story line was probably the Smurfs getting bitten by a bug and turning into vampire-type creatures; it was really funny, especially with the proliferation of vampire books today! This would be an excellent addition to any public library collection, as it would have appeal to various age groups, especially children of the 1980s!
As for middle school, I'm going to test drive it with my students. When the Smurfs television cartoon was on, I was in high school, and high school students saw the program as a vast source of amusement, for many of the wrong reasons. I shared this with the Papercutz publicist, Jesse Post, who was very understanding! I do love this publisher's Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys graphic novels, and was also really excited to see their Garfield graphic novel series, but my past memories of Smurfette and the idiomatic language of the Smurfs ("We're smurfing to smurf to the smurf now") makes me want to try this with my students before putting it in the collection!
Giff, Patricia Reilly. Zigzag Zoom (Zigzag Kids #8)
9 April 2013, Wendy Lamb Books
Gina has brand new white tennis shoes, and when she sees a sign that says "Help!" at school, she takes off running very quickly, so everyone thinks she is a great runner. She only ran so fast because she thought someone was in danger, but it was only Ramon inviting the children to practice. The Zigzag Zebras are going to race against the Timpanzi Tigers, so Ramon has them running around the school and the neighborhood. Gina and Clifton don't like to run-- they would rather sing or make music. The group runs into trouble, as well. They don't have enough money to get a bus to the Tigers' school, and will have to walk unless they can raise the money with a bake sale, they can't, so Gina has to walk and then run, which isn't so bad when she gets the group to sing on the way over, and keeps a song in her heart as she runs.
Strengths: Emergent readers love series, and this one has a lot of characters to whom it is easy to relate. Gina doesn't want to get her new tennis shoes dirty, but does, and the chapter heading pictures show their evolution! I was glad to see that Gina eventually didn't mind running. There were a lot of supportive adults, as well as good sportsmanship.
Weaknesses: This was written on a very elementary level, so I have trouble judging it, but there were some things that didn't make much sense. Why would Gina get so upset about a sign saying "Help!", and then there was no explanation, really, as to why the sign had been put up. There is no way the group could make money for a bus by selling pretzels for 5 cents each, and would the cafeteria ladies just donate the materials? I'm never convinced that Gina is a great singer, and it was a little disturbing that a more positive spin on running wasn't employed. I usually like this author, so I was surprised at this book.