Saturday, March 06, 2021

Cartoon Saturday- Allergic: A Graphic Novel

Lloyd, Megan Wagner and Nutter, Michelle Mee (Illustrations). 
Allergic: A Graphic Novel 
March 2nd 2021 by Graphix
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Maggie has always wanted a dog. Her younger brothers Liam and Noah have each other, and her parents are expecting another baby, so she wants something that is just hers. The family goes to an animal shelter to adopt, and even finds a dog that is just perfect, but Maggie has such a bad allergic reaction that she breaks out in hives and her eyes close shut. She visits the doctor, and has to go for allergy testing, but the dog adoption is put on hold. Maggie ends up being very allergic to anything with feathers or fur, which is devastating to someone who wanted to become a vet! She investigates other animals, but none of them workout well. Luckily, there is a girls who moves in next door. Maggie's family hasn't lived in town long, and she and Claire hit it off right away even though Claire is a year older and in 6th grade. They spend lots of time together, usually at Claire's house, since she is an only child and her father is fairly indulgent with activities, such as making cupcakes or pillow forts, activities that would be too chaotic in Maggie's already busy house. When Claire gets a dog, however, Maggie is angry and refuses to speak to Claire. She ends up being befriended by a boy at school who has food allergies, which helps Maggie deal with her own allergies. The girls make up, and Claire helps Maggie sneak a mouse into her room. Maggie is allergic even to the tiny mouse, and when it has babies, that makes matters even worse. She has asked for a lock for her door, and so goes undetected for a while, but eventually her brothers rat her out. Her parents, already stressed by the rapidly approaching due date for their baby, take the mouse back to the pet shop. Will Maggie be able to make her peace with her new sister and find a new interest in life?
Strengths: This was very well done and will be hugely popular with fans of Raina Telgemeier's similarly anxious graphic novels. 5th grade is definitely a year when many students pine for pets (my daughter was in 6th grade when we adopted Sylvie), and readers will sympathize with Maggie's disappointment. There are a few students every year who end up with baby siblings, so that was good to see as well. Friend drama is always popular, and Claire and Maggie's relationship was well drawn. There was an especially touching scene with Maggie and one of her young brothers. Definitely purchasing one, if not two, copies!
Weaknesses: Maggie's grandmother, with her gray bun, dresses, round figure, and shawl like collars, looked a lot like MY own grandmother-- who would be 127 if she were alive today. I liked the fact that Maggie was darker skinned than her father, but would have been glad to have a more concrete ethnic heritage cited.
What I really think: There are not a lot of middle grade books dealing with allergies, and I would love to see more. I love that there is a depiction of an EpiPen. This is definitely something we see a lot in the student population, and including an asthma diagnosis would not go amiss! (I've had cross country runners violently allergic to contact with grass. That was interesting!) Looking forward to anything that these two artists do in the future. 

Grine, Chris. Secrets of Camp Whatever
March 2nd 2021 by Oni Press 
E ARC provided by Netgalley

Willow and her family are moving back to her father's hometown of Nowhere to live in the family home, that the locals say is haunted. She doesn't get to help renovate, however, because she is off to Camp...Whatever. To get there, campers have to get on a creepy boat manned by new director Mr. Tooter. Willow, who wears hearing aids and who knows sign language but usually can hear well with her devices, doesn't care for Mr. Tooter, who yells at her whenever he speaks. She meets Violet and Emma, who are in her cabin, and they join forces when odd things start happening around the camp. Mrs. Nim, the nurse, has hidden depth, as does Mr. Elric, and he introduces the group to some of the odder inhabitants of the area. Mr. Tooter becomes a problem, but is eventually subdued and improved by Mr. Elric, and Willow is ready to go back to her new town armed with the hidden information about the inhabitants. 
Strengths: There are a growing number of creepy fantasy graphic novels, and this is a good addition to ones like Escabasse's Witches of Brooklyn, Siegel's The Sand Warrior, Costa and Parks' Rickety Stitch, Stevenson's Lumberjanes, Steinkeller's The Okay Witch, and Blas and Aguirre's Hotel Dare. This also really reminded me of another graphic novel set in a community nears cliffs where there was a mysterious fog, the title of which I cannot for the life of me remember. (Also had three children on the cover.) Willow's hearing is addressed really well, and I wish there were more characters in middle grade literature shown with realistically depicted hearing loss. I had a cousin who wore a hearing aid much like Cece Bell's in El Deafo when I was growing up.
Weaknesses: My students aren't as fond of the creepy graphic novels as they are of the realistic fiction ones. 
What I really think: Just put in my last order of the year, and will keep this one in mind if there is money in the budget for it. 

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