Friday, September 02, 2022

Crabgrass Comic Adventures: Happy New Year

My district has been back to school since August 8th, but in my mind, the new school year really doesn't start until this coming Tuesday! Absolutely not complaining; it's nice to get out before Memorial Day and have the first semester finish at winter break. It's just funny how doing something for just a few years in one's youth has more power than a long time when one is an adult. If you're still in school, pause and remember what fun a new school year can be, and if you're not, take a moment to watch the school buses roll by while quietly drinking coffee (or tea) on your porch! It's okay to be glad that you no longer have to stand in a hallway eight times a day and tell people to "use walking feet"!

September 20th 2022 by Andrews McMeel Publishing
Copy provided by the Publisher

When Miles and his family move into Kevin's neighborhood, they quickly become fast friends, even though they are very different. Miles is an only child of fairly strict parents who does well in school and is fairly cautious. Kevin is being raised by a single mother along with an older brother, twin sister, and baby brother, and embraces life in the exuberant way tweens often do. The two plan a hideout, have a blow up pool in the backyard, and try dangerous stunts on their bicycles. In one arc, Kevin tries to prank Miles by putting a firecreacker in his sandwich, which is intercepted by misunderstood class bully Maxine, who then challenges him to a fight. The adults in the Crabgrass world exist to ruin fun for the boys (isn't that we all do?), but this doesn't stop them from trying. I've never seen this strip, which looks to be fairly new; when I looked up to strip on Go Comics, the one for today was in the book! The full color panels and fun illustrations will make this a big hit with my students, and I'd love to see my local newspaper pick this strip up. I learned a lot, including that the secret to grilled cheese is HAM instead of bread. 
Strengths: There are not enough books about boys' friendship in the middle grade world, so it was fun to read a comic strip that focused on Miles and Kevin. They are very different people, but get along well, and bring out different sides of each other. Miles would probably never try to suck on an Atomic Fireball of his own accord, and Miles reminds Kevin that instead of spending all day hunting for a lucky four leaf clover, maybe he could just study for their math test. There are some story arcs that ring so true for tween boys-- Kevin finds his childhood stuffed toy, and has fond memories of it... but hte next minute the boys have it strapped to a model rocket to send into orbit. I'd love to see more of Kevin's twin sister, and see more of the boys' life at school. Definitely a fun read for a summer afternoon. 
Weaknesses: Since this is based on the author's experiences growing up, it makes sense that Kevin is wearing a muscle shirt, but I can't tell you the last time I saw a boy wearing a sleeveless shirt at my school!
What I really think: Miles and Kevin would definitely sit at the same cafeteria table as Big Nate, and while Miles would bring out the better side of Nate, and and Kevin would get into entirely too much trouble together! I'll be watching this strip with interest, and would love to see a Notebook Novel by this author. 
Ms. Yingling

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