Saturday, June 13, 2020

Cartoon Saturday- Donut the Destroyer, Doodleville

Graley, Sarah and Purenins, Stef. Donut the Destroyer
June 2nd 2020 by Graphix
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Donut's parents are evil super villains, and her best friend, Ivy, is very excited for the two of them to start the new school year at Skullfire Academy. Instead, Donut has enrolled at Lionheart School for Heroes, because she would rather be a hero than a villain. Her parents try to thwart her by taking her alarm and making her late for her first day, but she perseveres. The students at Lionheart know that she is from a villainous family, and some give her a hard time, but she manages to make friends with Artie and Martha who invite her to be part of the Lunchtime Villain History Club. Donut decides right away that she wants to try to be a Super Prefect like the perfect Simone, and get a gold cape. However, there are a lot of things working against her, especially Ivy. Ivy thought that the two would always go to Skullfire together, and is hurt that her friend is not joining her and instead has chosen to go to a different school and is now making new friends. Since she is evil, she decides to cause havoc at Lionheart, especially during a big ceremony for new students. Will Donut be able to work against not only her best friend but her parents in order to stay true to herself?
Strengths: The illustrations in this graphic novel are brightly colored and exuberant; this author's Glitch is appealing to my students, even though speculative fiction graphic novels tend not to circulate as much as realistic ones in my library. Donut's desire to be different from her best friend and her parents is a classic middle grade conflict, and is handled in a realistic but hopeful way. Donut's perception of Lionheart Academy's students is that they are all looking at her and don't like her, but that isn't the reality. There's a lot of action and humor in this story. It's rather brilliant to name the main character Donut-- it's an excuse for lots of donut graphics, which always make middle grade readers pick up a book, even though it has nothing to do with the breakfast pastry!
Weaknesses: Remember that graphic novels are not my preferred format: I thought the illustrations were a tiny bit busy. The eyes changing in almost every panel distracted me, as did the change in Ivy's whole face from panel to panel. I felt like I was missing some very small commentary on the action. Students will not worry about this as much. At least the noses were very nice and unobtrusive! (I am usually distracted by noses.)
What I really think: I will definitely purchase, and this should be a popular title. I was sold by the dedication "This book is for all the heroes out there, who always try to do the right thing and help make the world a better place for everyone." I always sent the girls off to school by saying "Go make the world a better place," and they usually do!

42424403Knisley, Lucy. Stepping Stones
May 5th 2020 by Random House Graphic
Copy provided by the Ohio E Book Project

Jen is not happy that she has had to leave the city to live with her mother and her mother's new boyfriend not just in the country but on a farm. Her mom and Walter are running Peapod Farm and trying to make ends meet by selling flowers, berries, and home made granola at a local market. Jen not only has to clean the chicken coop and do a lot of manual labor around the farm, but Walter is very critical and doesn't take her feelings into consideration. When his two daughters come to visit, Jen has to deal with Andi, who is her age, and Reese, who is younger.  Their father seems to take their side, and it doesn't help that Andi is very good at math and can make change at the family's booth, something that has caused Jen a lot of trouble and anxiety. Will Jen be able to come to a cease fire with her part time sort of step siblings and settle into her new life?
Strengths: This is exactly the Telgemeier/Holm/Jamieson formula that my students love; brightly colored graphics that cover a realistic fiction story with a little bit of anxiety or trouble. The farm setting was fascinating, and Knisley brings her personal experience to provide lots of interesting details. My uncle had a farm, and I spent enough time planting potatoes and picking fruit that I think it's good for students to read about it, even if they never get to experience it!
Weaknesses: There are a lot of comments about how toxic Walter is. He's definitely not great, but Jen's father doesn't make a good showing, either. Certainly not how I would treat a child, but Jen's behavior isn't exemplary either. There are people like Walter out there, and sometimes we have to deal with them. Perhaps it's better to meet them first in fiction?
What I really think: I will definitely purchase this, although personally I am oddly enthralled by Knisley's work and don't like it at the same time. There are definitely some of my students dealing with challenging adults or blended families in their lives, and this is a realistic way of seeing others having the same circumstances.

Sell, Chad. Doodleville
June 9th 2020 by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by the publisher

Drew loves to draw, and has a notebook full of doodles with whom she interacts. When she takes her sketch book with her on an art club field trip to the local art museum, some of the doodles escape and cause problems with the art in the museum. Drew feels that her drawings aren't as impressive as those by her fellow students, so when she is assigned a project, she tries something bigger. Her Leviathan drawing causes all sorts of problems, destroying both her work and those of the other students, and this destructive behavior seems tied to her feelings of anxiety and inadequacy. She needs the help of her classmates to make things right.
Strengths: This was a great fantasy graphic novel with a realistic start, and I enjoyed how we are just dropped into Drew's world where of course art comes to life. Her parents run a diner, which is a fun setting, especially since it means Drew has access to the huge roll of paper used to cover tables! What budding artist wouldn't love that. While Drew loves to draw, she feels that her work isn't as good as her classmates, which is certainly a feeling all of us have at one time or another. The Leviathan as the manifestation of her anxiety is an interesting way to explain this to younger readers.
Weaknesses: This got a bit repetitive in the middle, with the monster ravaging different things and the classmates trying different ways to deal with it.
What I really think: Debating. This is certainly an interesting and well done graphic novel, but Cardboard Kingdom doesn't circulate as well as I expected with my students, but that is probably because of the younger cover. This would certainly be fascinating to readers who like to draw a lot, and I would definitely purchase it for an elementary school.

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