Saturday, October 03, 2020

Cartoon Saturday --Black Heroes of the Wild West and Animorphs

53903409Smith, James Otis. Black Heroes of the Wild West
September 29th 2020 by TOON Graphics
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

In this graphic novel, we get stories of three Black Americans who were involved in the history of the West in the late 1800s. While Bass Reeves, a Deputy U.S. marshall, has had several books written about him (including Paulsen's 2006 The Legend of Bass Reeves: Being the True and Fictional Account of the Most Valiant Marshal in the West, readers might not have met horse trainer Bob Lemmons or stage coach driver Mary Fields. This graphic novel offers brief overviews of their lives and careers, with the longest and most interesting being about Fields and her many careers and unique lifestyle for a woman at the time. Reeves is fascinating, but just the highlights of his career are addressed, and Lemmons has a very short entry. The graphics are nicely done, and the text to picture ratio is a comfortable one that will please my students. The book is not large (7.8" x 10"), but a little larger than Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales (5.5 x 7.5"); Black Heroes definitely will appeal to the demographics of Hale's books. I very much appreciated the photographs,notes, and timelines at the end of the book.
Strengths: This is a great starting point for learning about the Wild West. There are explanations about why this period of history is troublesome, and the three short biographies will hopefully encourage readers to go on to research more about related Black history, such as Black cowboys, the Buffalo Soldiers, etc. It's also just a fun graphic novel to read. I really liked the content at the end of the book and wish that more of it had been included, or that the pictures had been a bit larger.
Weaknesses: This is very short; I wish one more biography had been included. Nat Love already has some books about him, but perhaps Bill Pickett or Cathay Williams?
What I really think: This is an excellent starting point, and I hope that we start to see more biographies of Black Americans who have been previously ignored. I'd love a longer book about Mary Fields instead of yet another book about Rosa Parks or Harriet Tubman.

Applegate, K.A. and Grant, Michael, Grine, Chris (Illustrations).
Animorphs: The Graphic Novel
October 6th 2020 by Graphix

The original Animorphs series is refreshed for a new generation of speculative fiction fans. As a mother who has about 50 of the original 54 books (published 1996-2001) in a box in the attic, I can attest to the wild popularity of this Scholastic series. In addition to the books, (which were all purchased at the thrift store, which means they must have been everywhere!) there is even a VCR tape of the television series (1998-2000) in my cabinet. Years ago, Ms. Applegate was even kind enough to send an autographed copy of the Invasion for my daughter, who was beyond thrilled!

This graphic novel will be enjoyed on its own merits, and is a good introduction to the world of Yeerks and Andalites, and is probably a good thing to have on hand for when the movie hits the world. Having been part of many, many conversations about the children and their fight against evil, I have to say... I still don't understand. I had an e ARC of the book that was very slow, and some of the dialog boxes were in a very light green, which was hard to read.

I will definitely be purchasing this, even though there aren't any of the paperbacks of the original novels left in my library.When I started in 2002, there were about 8 volumes, but something like number 3,6,12,35 and 48, so I ended up weeding those rather than trying to purchase the ones missing. We'll see if this enthralls younger readers whose... parents might have read the originals? Yikes!

"Sometimes weird things happen to people. Ask Jake. He could tell you about the night he and his friends saw a strange light in the sky that seemed to be heading right for them. That was the night five normal kids learned that humanity is under a silent attack -- and were given the power to fight back.

Now Jake, Rachel, Cassie, Tobias, and Marco can transform into some of the most dangerous creatures on Earth. And they must use that power to outsmart an evil greater than anything the world has ever seen. . . "

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