Saturday, September 05, 2020

Cartoon Saturday- Witches of Brooklyn and Forget Me Nat

Escabasse, Sophie. Witches of Brooklyn
September 1st 2020 by Random House Graphic
E ARC provided by Netgalley

Effie arrives in the middle of the night at the Brooklyn home of her aunts Selimene and Carlota. Her mother has died, and she has never know her father, so her mother's stepsister is the best fit for her. The aunts are herbalists and acupuncturists who have a large, comfortable home. After an initial difficult time, Effie settles in. She attends school, where she makes friends with Oliver (who has a Scottish manny) and Berrit). She notices that when she gets angry, unusual things happen, like a snake in a classroom picture coming to life and menacing someone who is mean to her. Effie discovers that not only does she have magical powers, but her aunts are witches who have a secret lair and an armored knight as a librarian! This gives Effie an interesting plan of learning for the future, but her aunts get an interesting case brought to them; Tilly Shoo, a pop singer who has a large fan base among Effie and her friends, arrives in the middle of the night to see about having a curse removed; someone has given her skin cream that turns her face red. While she and her considerable entourage stay with Effie's family, the aunts work on a cure. It is Effie who finds what they think might be the answer, but it is more complicated than most curses. Effie invites Oliver and Berrit to come to a private concert, and the cure is started. There is a second book mentioned at the end of this, so we should be able to follow Effie's magical learning.
Strengths: This had a lot of good things going for it: a generally likable main character, a different style of illustration, an appealing setting (the house is terrific!), quirky relatives who are also kind, a realistic introduction to magic, and an interesting plot (Tilly Shoo) on top of Effie's transitional story. The friendship with Oliver and Berrit is well developed, and there are some good details about the magic. A few fun side stories, like Tilly's assistant who wants to cook, add some additional depth.
Weaknesses: It seemed odd that Effie would be dropped off in the middle of the night by a very suspicious looking social worker in sunglasses, and I kept waiting for something more to come of this. Perhaps in the next book. Personally, it took me about half of the book to realize that Carlota's odd nose was actually a tiny pair of eye glasses; Selimene had very large glasses (and a lack of dentures? Her mouth was oddly pursed.) I find that I obsess about small things in character portrayals in graphic novels. Berrit's hair also bothered me.
What I really think: I liked this more than a lot of graphic novels, and it had a different illustration style and a fantasy story that I think will appeal to the readers at my school. Definitely purchasing, although I always try to wait to get prebound versions of graphic novels so that they last more than three months.

According to Pew Research, "In the U.S., 8% of children live with relatives such as aunts and grandparents". I mention this because we have yet another deceased parent. If writers really want to have children alone, they would be more realistic to have them in foster care.

Scrivan, Maria. Forget Me Nat (Nat Enough #2)
September 1st 2020 by Graphix
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

After a rocky start in middle school in Nat Enough, Natalie has found good friends in Zoe and Flo, and is feeling fairly successful. She is also completely and utterly obsessed with her crush, Derek. She thinks about him constantly, and finds herself doing things she doesn't really like, just because Derek likes them. She eats pineapple pizza, almost dozes off in math club, and makes Zoe and Flo angry because she no longer wants to talk about anything that happens to them. She does spend a fair amount of time with Derek, and thinks that she will ask him to the dance. When she does, he lets her know that he just likes her as a friend, and Natalie gets the feeling that he has a crush on Lily. This plunges Natalie into despair, and the fact that Zoe and Flo are disappointed in her doesn't help. Flo is running for class representative, and Nat had said she would help with the campaign, especially the posters, and she said that she would help Zoe with her own crush. Can Nat pull herself together enough to get on with her life and make things right with her friends.
Strengths: Think back to your own middle school memories. What stands out? A science project? A field trip? Math work sheets? Or that one person on whom you had an unreasonable crush for a ridiculous amount of time? There are so many books about grieving or anxiety, when really, a far  more common experience that is rarely portrayed is having a crush. I adored the illustrations at the beginning where Natalie explains the "magic" signs that indicate that Derek likes her; I'm looking at you, lucky tube socks I always wore to MYF so I would get to stand next to my crush in the friendship circle. You got to hold hands! I did like the fact that she was friends with Derek, although this does make his rejection a little more stinging. It was realistic that Zoe and Flo were irritated, but also nice that they are ultimately understanding. The dance and the election were also fairly realistic. I also appreciated that Nat was a bit more upbeat than she was in the first book. She's clearly learned some coping skills. The bright colors and illustrative style will make this a best seller at book fairs. If we ever have those again. (Writing this on the last day of school, 5/21/20.)
Weaknesses: Could have done without the election. Our school doesn't have them, and I wonder if there are many schools that do. Also, if they do, are there really assemblies to announce the winners? I remember it being done over the PA system. Also, Flo would be unlikely to win, not matter how qualified. Alex and her ice cream machine would definitely have won!
What I really think: Doesn't matter. This series will be a HUGE circulator in my library, and falls somewhere between bran flakes and toaster pastries on the continuum of Books as Breakfast Foods. Maybe, say frosted shredded wheat. It's not like the Chloe series, which makes me feel like I'm just handing readers the sugar bowl and a spoon.

No comments:

Post a Comment