Saturday, May 13, 2017

Cartoon Saturday- Lots of books with pictures

Holly Kowitt. The Principal's Underwear Is Missing
May 2nd 2017 by Feiwel & Friends
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

When geeky 6th grader Becca accidentally breaks popular 8th grader Selfie's arm with a dodge ball, she tries to apologize, but it's hard to approach middle school royalty. She catches Selfie in the middle of a crisis, and after she helps out, gets drawn into Selfie's world in a weird way. Becca retrieves the teen queen's shopping bag from the principal's office, but grabs the wrong one, and the two end up with the principal's gigantic bra. Of course, it falls into the wrong hands, and these evil doers plan to run it up the flag pole and post it on YouTube. This would mean big trouble for both girls, so they work together with their various friend groups in order to restore the undergarment to its rightful owner without any publicity.
Strengths: I loved The Loser List, and it's held up surprisingly well for paper-over-boards (for six years!) and been popular. This has the same Notebook Novel format, and will appeal to fans of The Dork Diaries and The Clique.
Weaknesses: I found this surprisingly unrealistic, and the stereotypes were odd. Becca is a dork, Selfie is a fashion obsessed popularity hound, and the characters and plot felt stale.
What I really think: Students will love this, and I won't be sad when it falls apart, but I was just really surprised that this wasn't better. I thought that The Loser List was more nuanced and thoughtful.

31371502Libenson, Terri. Invisible Emmie
May 2nd 2017 by Balzer + Bray
ARC provided by Young Adult Books Central

Emmie is not comfortable in middle school-- she has curly hair, is a late bloomer, and is artistic. She tries to stay under everyone's radar. In alternating chapters, we also meet Kate, who is fabulous, has everyone as a friend, and is everything Emmie is not. Emmie does have one friend, Brianna, but even that relationship is rocky. Her parents are busy, school makes her anxious, and the boy on whom she has a crush, Tyler, asks out Kate! Just when she thinks things can't get any worse, a poem she has written about Tyler falls out of her notebook and picked up by the obnoxious Joseph, and everyone starts to make fun of her. Can Kate help Emmie to stand up for herself?

This book will be immediately popular because of the format. Kate's chapters are in comic strip form, while Emmie's are in Notebook novel form. Not only that, but it is filled with cringe worthy moments, and middle school students all experience some of these, no matter how "popular" they are! Reading about similar things in books makes their own problems seem less severe.

It was interesting that while Emmie felt that her own image left something to be desired, she still refereed to her classmates in unflattering terms like Smelly Kid and Brainiacs (complete with propeller beanies). Kate's depiction is a bit over the top, but we eventually find out why that is. It was nice to see Emmie grow and get over her anxiety, and the character of Tyler was nicely done.

Middle school can be difficult, but it helps if it can be approached with some humor. Invisible Emmie is a great choice for readers who like middle school stories about students struggling to fit in that are combined with pictures. Read alikes for this include Vivat's Frazzled, Wells' Mackenzie Blue, and Barshaw's Ellie McDoodle.

25940409Brockington, Drew. Catstronauts: Mission Moon
April 18th 2017 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Public Library Copy

When a global energy crisis threatens to cut off all of the power in the US, the president contacts the World's Best Scientist to come up with a plan sexy enough to sell to the US people-- the two decide that traveling to the moon to install solar panels that will be able to send enough power to earth is the answer. The catstronauts are chosen to man the mission, even though they feel it is appropriate to fix a crucial piece of equipment with yarn. This imperils them, but luckily another cat broke the rules and snuck his robot on board, thereby saving the day.
Strengths: I liked the drawing style and the color palette, and the cats were funny. A lot of reviews have mentioned the STEM tie in. The amount and size of text is very much what my graphic novel readers want.
Weaknesses: The complete lack of alternatives to the energy crisis struck me as odd, as did the catstronauts slap-dash approach to a serious mission. It left me feeling uncomfortable. If this were pure fun, like Blabey's Bad Guys, it would be amusing, but the many suggestions I've seen to tie it in with science make me a bit uncomfortable.
What I really think: Might buy a prebind in a year or two, but these never live long enough in my library for the smell to abate otherwise. Seriously. Why do these smell so bad? The ink? The paper? Inquiring minds want to know.

32573182Siegel, Mark. The Sand Warrior (5 Worlds #1)
May 2nd 2017 by Random House Books for Young Readers
Public Library Copy

Basically, this is "only tweens can save the world" in graphic novel format. High fantasy, with requisite bullying of the ones who will save the world. Fans of Stevenson's Nimona  or the Faith Hicks The Nameless City will adore this, but my graphic novel readers tend to like the easy-to-read graphic novels like Squish: Super Amoeba, and my fantasy fans turn up their nose at graphic novels. It doesn't help that graphic novels tend to be expensive, fall apart easily, and have a weird smell from the ink that gives me a headache. I will let the public library buy these.

Ms. Yingling

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