Want to hear about MEAN? Until very recently, Members of Staff were limited to a half hour of screen time PER DAY. That's right-- either a half of of a PBS show, or a half hour of an educational video game. Later, they could check e mail or Facebook, or attempt to play RuneScape with dial-up, but they still had only a half hour. In the summer, they only could watch a movie if it rained. My eldest daughter thinks this is the best thing I have ever done, having spent some time babysitting children who were overly fond of video games. I'd been saying that few books address this topic, and lo and behold, TWO graphic novels about video games showed up.
After you read this, get off the computer and go outside and play. Although, having search this topic, parents are really paranoid about doing this now. I'm skulking off to go feel old....
Krosoczka, Jarrett. Lunch Lady and the Video Game Villian
23 April 2013, Knopf Books for Young Readers
Copy from Young Adult Books Central, and reviewed there.
Hector is determined to run for student body president against Christopher Milmoe even though Milmoe has huge banners, buttons, and campaign promises that aren't realistic. He even brings in pizza on vegetable souffle day in the cafeteria! At the same time, electronic devices start disappearing around the school, including Hector's X-Station Mobile. The Lunch Ladies are on this, using what technology they have left for surveillance. When they discover the culprit, they go to battle with him... but Lunch Lady gets sucked in Hector's video game and is in danger of losing. Even though it's in the middle of speeches, Hector comes to her rescue. No matter what the outcome of the election is, though, problems are looming because of the new, evil superintendent, Dr. Van Grindheimer. What will become of the Lunch Ladies in book 10?
Strengths: As always, these are a fun romp of evil characters. No one (except the lunch ladies) is spared! Children delight in seeing teachers play the bad guy if it is done in an over-the-top way, and the illustrations in these books are always fun to look at. With the state of school funding, I got a big kick out of the evil superintendent strutting around in pointy black boots and making her cuts, knowing that the Lunch Ladies will find a way to neutralize her!
Weaknesses: More school elections. Still not my favorite thing!
Holm, Jennifer L. and Matthew. Squish: Game on (Squish #5)
1 May 2013, Random House
Copy from Young Adult Books Central and reviewed there.
Squish certainly loves to read comic books about Super Amoeba, but when his friends Peggy and Pod get him hooked on the video game Meitosis,Squish is so determined to make it to the next level that he doesn't care about anything else. He doesn't do his book report on Moby Dick, he doesn't sleep, and he doesn't even care about going to the comic convention with his dad! Evenutally, Squish realizes that the game isn't that exciting, and that he really needs to pay attention to other things in his life.
Strengths: Snarky humor that appeals to both kids and grown ups is always the best part of Squish. Additional information about science is fun as well, but children will enjoy seeing Squish caught in the throes of striving for "rainbow effect" and "kitten effect" to the exclusion of all else. A teacher who likes comics, as well as a father who supports Squish's interest, add to the fun characters.
Weaknesses: This was a bit cautionary, and I'm not sure if children who are addicted to video games will see themselves in this and learn from it! We can only hope!