Saturday, October 02, 2021

Cartoon Saturday- The Awakening Storm and Bright Family

Yogis, Jamal and Truoung, Vivan (illus.) The Awakening Storm
September 21st 2021 by Graphix
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Grace had a very happy life with her mother and her father, who had been in the military and had Chinese ancestry, unlike her mother. He always told her stories about Chinese myths and legends, especially about a race of lizard men who were considered "half blooded" like Grace, but who were granted special powers because of their ancestry. After her father's death from cancer, her mother remarries. Hank is a good guy, and he has a good job with a biomedical company that takes them to Hong Kong. He enrolls Grace in the best internationals school, and gives her one of the newest fitness trackers that his company makes. She is lucky that she makes good friends right away: Ramesh, James, and Jing. On a school field trip, she and Ramesh sneak off to a local market, and Grace meets an older woman who gives her a glass egg. She is very surprised when it hatches, and she finds a tiny water dragon in her toilet! She manages to hide the dragon, whom she names Nate after her father, from her folks, but when she and her friends are followed by shady men in black stocking caps, they know they need to find out more. They track down a fisherman who knew the older woman, who is able to give them tips for how to take care of Nate, and tells them a little about why Grace may have the dragon, but isn't able to tell them much. Ramesh manages to find out who is tracking them, and uncovers some secrets. Will this knowledge be enough to keep them safe? And will Grace find out more about her father, her heritage, and her emerging magical powers?
Strengths: This was a fun fantasy romp with dragons, which my students adore. I enjoyed the fact that Grace, while she missed her father, was okay with her step father and with the move to Hong Kong, and she managed to make friends right away. There was a lot of adventure (flying on the back of a dragon!), and some decently evil villains for the kids to fight. There was a bit of science with the father's position, and the integration of the folklore into Grace's life made sense. The pictures were in full color, and were very appealing. 
Weaknesses: Tweens finding they have powers and saving the world. Sigh. 
What I really think: I have to keep telling myself that most middle grade readers have not read the 5,000 fantasy books about tweens saving the world that I have, so this will seem fresh to them. As I was writing this review, I got a call from one of our language arts teachers who was telling me about The Umbrella Academy television show, which sounded just like every other fantasy book that I've read. In fact, when she told me it was based on a book, I could think of about five books that matched her description. (It isn't based on any of them.) Are there as many graphic novels about Tweens Saving the World? No. So I'll probably buy this one. 

Cody, Matthew and Brooks, Derick. Bright Family
Andrews McMeel Publishing (September 7, 2021)
Copy provided by the publisher

Nia and Jayden are intelligent children, but are struggling with the fact that their adoptive scientist parents seem more interested in their work than in Nia's robotic competitioin or Jayden's failure to turn in homework. They get plenty of attention when they make the news for causes havoc with a super powered skateboard device, but still don't get the attention they want. When the kids accidentally travel through their dad's teleporter, they have to survive in many different times and environments in order to find and rescue their parents. Will they be able to return to the present in one piece?
Strengths: The Epic! graphic novels, while they smell awful to me, are well formatted and have a well developed plot, style of illustration and size of font that appeal to my readers, and I feel like these actually get read, whereas some of the graphic novels with tiny print get looked at. 
Weaknesses: I'm a little unclear why the Brights adopted children and then proceeded to ignore them. This would have worked just as well without the mention of adoption. 
What I really think: While this is available in hardcover for $12.51 from Follett, I spend the $16.61 for the prebind, because this will see a lot of use. 
 Ms. Yingling

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