July 8th 2014 by Random House Books for Young Readers
Copy from Young Adult Books Central and reviewed there.
Ten different stories offer a good overview of the most popular graphic novel artists for middle grade today. Some use favorite characters (Babymouse, Lunch Ladies), while others have completely new and somewhat genre jumping choices (Eric Wright's talking cupcakes are quite a departure from My Dead Girlfriend, and Gene Luen Yang's strip shows that he has a knack for middle grade that should be explored). The theme of recess makes this a book that will always be in demand, so I was glad to see that it was printed in a three color format, since the pages will stay in the book better than the shiny type in multiple colors. (The orange seemed an odd choice, however-- maybe it was chosen because it was recently a popular color!) This would be a great stocking stuffer at the holidays, although I'd expect some squabbling if there are multiple children. They would all want to get their hands on the copy!
Watson, Tom. Stick Dog Chases a Pizza
July 8th 2014 by HarperCollins
Once Stick Dog and his friends get tired of watching Karen chasing her own tale, they decide to play Frisbee. They find a cardboard circle that looks about right in the garbage, but to their surprise, the circle is also delicious.They decide to locate the pizza shop, travel there, and figure out a way to steal pizza. Oddly enough, they are once again successful in tricking humans out of food.
Strengths: On the very first day of school, a student office helper moped into the library needing something to read. He was reading Eragon at home, and feeling bogged down by it. (Who wouldn't be?) He was absolutely tickled to check out the first two volumes in the series, and excited that I would hold onto this book from our new shipment. Can these books brighten the days of certain readers? Sure. Next up, I think we should get Stick Dog Gets Takeout and Stick Dog Sticks Up a Deli.
Weaknesses: Reading these is like eating Twizzlers for breakfast. No nutritive value whatsoever. I do worry about students who won't read anything but this type of book; some sort of intellectual scurvy is sure to ensue. For an occasional treat, absolutely, but not for a steady diet.
Pichon, L. The Brilliant World of Tom Gates
August 26th 2014 by Candlewick Press
ARC from Baker and Taylor
Tom is in year five, and would rather draw or read comics in class than pay attention to his teacher, Mr. Fullerman, which would explain why he gets put in the very front of the classroom! Tom does occasionally pay attention, but he is a past master at forging notes from home and making up elaborate excuses for why he isn't turning things in. He is also very embarrassed by his father, who does freelance work from a shed in their yard and occasionally shows up at school in his gardening clothes, and also by the "fossils": his grandparents, who serve very odd food (like banana on pizza). His older sister, Delia, is easy to annoy, and Tom does so at every chance. The big thing going on in Tom's world is a concert by his favorite band, Dude3, which he manages to talk his father into attending with him. Tom's own band, the Dogzombies, also have an opportunity to perform at a school concert, but both concerts end up being hysterically problematic. This is the first volume of a seven book British series being released in the US for the first time.
Strengths: Notebook novels are always popular, and this one has pleasing graphics that are somewhat reminiscent of Schoolhouse Rock. Tom is well meaning about most of his escapades, except those involving his sister, and the inclusion of typically British phrases and obsessions (Caramel wafer, anyone? Actually, I could go for a Cadbury Finger right now!) add a new twist to this type of book. A glossary is included at the back.
Weaknesses: Not much of a plot, and the illustrations and type are a bit random and made it harder for me to follow what was going on.