Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Variety of Fantasy

Yee, Lisa. Batgirl at Super Hero High (Super Hero High #2)
January 3rd 2017 by Random House Books for Young Readers
Copy provided by the publisher

Barbara Gordon has finally convinced her father, the Commissioner, to let her leave Gotham High and attend Super Hero High, where she had a joke as tech support. She's worried that the students with powers won't like her, but she has a strong ally in Super Girl. Her biggest problem is balancing everything-- her father insists she live at home, she is still doing some tech things, she adopts a baby bat, and gets picked to be on a teen tech challenge. She is partnered with nerdy Noah Kuttler, and works well with him, but ultimately wins the entire competition. Returning to school, she still struggles with classwork, and also is approached by Harley Quinn to do a tech innovation for her blog. With Noah's help, she puts a hologram on Harley's web site, but things quickly go wrong, and instead of Harley Grams, there are Harley Whams, a virus that slowly takes over the whole country. Having tricked her father into letting her live at school, Batgirl now moves home, doesn't answer her phone, and is about to give up on her super hero goals when her classmates help her pin point where everything went wrong and use their own powers to help her solve it. 
Strengths: It's great to see books with some comic book girl power, and there are some of my students who really love these. Yee has clearly done her research into the DC canon of characters and has included a huge number of them. Readers who haven't read the comics might be motivated to try them after these frenetically action packed stories. 
Weaknesses: I didn't like how Barbara "pulled one over" on her father to get him to let her live at school-- it didn't seem like a super hero move to me. A small quibble. My bigger one is that these are so packed with adventures and information about random characters that they are a bit hard to follow. 
What I really think: These fill a need but aren't my personal favorite. I'd rather see Yee turning her impressive writing skills to novels like Warp Speed or Stanford Wong Flunks Big Time, which have a bit more staying power. 

Grunberg, Greg and Turnbloom, Lucas. Nightmare Escape (Dream Jumper #1)

June 28th 2016 by GRAPHIX
Library copy

Ben can travel into other people's dreams and help them. When his crush goes into a coma, he travels into her dreams and realizes she is trapped there, along with some other people. With the help of a white rabbit and a magic stone necklace, he manages to save the day and also meets his grandfather. There is still the mystery of what has happened to his father to be solved, setting up the series. 

I'm not a fan of graphic novels, but then I am not a visual person. I like to read words, and preferably ones in 14-16 point font. I don't understand why my struggling readers are drawn to them, since the print is often so small, and it's hard for ME to integrate the text with the pictures to get the whole story. Also, I can't stand the smell of these, and it never seems to dissipate.

That said, this had some good points. The text was clearer and easier to read, and the pictures were simpler as well. The story is easy enough to follow, although not fabulous. Much of the book was spent just setting up the series. Still, for my struggling readers, this is a step up from some the prefab graphic titles, but not as good as Hilo or Sunny Side Up

30227922Priebe, Gigi and Duncan, Daniel (illustrations).The Adventures of Henry Whiskers
January 3rd 2017 by Aladdin
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

The Borrowers meets The Rescuers, all set in Queen Mary's dollhouse in Windsor Castle. I should have adored this one. 

It was okay. I think that it somehow seemed a bit young, and I had just spent a week trying to get students to check out The Rescuers, to no avail, even with the far superior Garth Williams illustrations. Elementary libraries will definitely want to take a look at this, but I'll pass for right now. 

Description from Goodreads.com:

"Henry Whiskers must face his fears and rescue his little sister from the scary Rat Alley in this fun, fast-paced debut chapter book set in Queen Mary’s historical dollhouse at Windsor Castle.

Twenty-five generations of Whiskers have lived in Windsor Castle’s most famous exhibit: Queen Mary’s Dollhouse. For young, book-loving Henry Whiskers and his family, this is the perfect place to call home.

But when the dollhouse undergoes unexpected repairs and Henry’s youngest sister, Isabel, goes missing, he risks everything in a whisker-whipping race against time to save her. His rescue mission will take him to the murky and scary world of Rat Alley, and Henry will have to dig deep and find the courage he never knew he had in order to bring his sister back home."

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