Saturday, January 28, 2023

Saturday Morning Cartoons

Andelfinger, Nicole (Adapter) and Aguirre, Claudia (illustrator). 
Sweet Valley Twins: Best Friends  (Graphic Novel)
November 1, 2022 by Random House Graphic
Based on the series started by Francine Pascal in 1986

Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield live with their parents and older brother in Sweet Valley. They've always dressed alike and shared the same interests, but as they enter middle school, Jess is more interested in boys and clothing and joining the Unicorn Club, and Elizabeth wants to hang out with people who are actually nice to her, and starts a sixth grade newspaper. They fight a lot, especially since Jessica is underhanded and does some cruel things in order to pledge the Unicorns. They start to take ballet lessons, but the experience is somewhat frustrating, and they both find themselves very busy. Since they are sharing a cell phone, that is an article of contention as well. Jessica manages to get Elizabeth into the Unicorns by doing the pledge dare while pretending to be Elizabeth, and since this is something very mean, there are more fights and Elizabeth doesn't want to be in the group. Will the sisters be able to find common ground even after they have grown apart?
Strengths: The colors are very appealing, and the idea of being a twin has an evergreen appeal. Friend drama is always a popular topic, and this is full of sibling rivalry, mean girls, and nastiness. Apparently, the creators of the television adaptation of Gossip Girls are rebooting this franchise as a program for the CW network, which might explain this new book. Since the original series had over 150 titles, there has to be something to recommend it. I was just a little too old to have read these, so I'm not quite understanding them. 
Weaknesses: Even with the more modern adaptation, this feels very dated. In the 1980s, girls might have heard their mothers talk about secret societies or sororities in school, but today's readers might be very confused about the Unicorns and their mean pledge challenges. I only knew about such clubs due to my weird interest in 1950s teen literature.
What I really think: I'm struggling to figure out why this is being rebooted as a graphic novel. The popularity of the Baby-Sitters Club adaptations? Nostalgia for mothers who read the books as tweens? I'm sure these would be very popular with young readers who like graphic novels, but this was not my favorite. I'd rather invest in more current graphic novels like Lloyd's Allergic. 

Simon, Coco. Mia in the Mix (Cupcake Diaries #2)
November 15th 2022 by Simon Spotlight
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Mia has moved out from Manhattan with her divorced mother and has to deal with a new school as well as a new almost step-father and brother. Mia's mother worked for Flair fashion magazine and is now a consultant, so unlike some other members of the Cupcake Club, Mia cares what she wears. This makes is easy for her to talk to the Popular Girls Club members, but she feels very akward eating lunch with them when she knows how Katie feels about one PGC member, Callie. The girls get several cupcake baking jobs (one for a teacher and one for Mia's mother's fashion show) and have to learn how to budget, especially when they have some spectacular baking disasters (how much lemon juice SHOULD go into a cupcake?) that eat into their profits. Will Mia be able to remain friends with the PGC members and still work with Katie making cupcakes?

I'm a big fan of books with Kids Doing Things, and I love that there is a balance between the fun of making cupcakes and the serious matter of doing this as a business. Even though I read the regular novel of this over a decade ago, I still remember the plot point about the sugar flowers-- at 75 cents each, they really cut into the profit when the girls were only charging their teacher $1 per cupcake! Tweens often come up with good ideas that require a lot more thought before they are implemented, so it's good to see Mia and her friends run into small troubles that make them think more concretely about how their business should be run. 

This series of books has been out for over ten years and has 34 books altogther, so I wasn't too surprised to see a graphic novel adaptation of some of the books in the series. Since Mia, Katie, Alexis and Emma are a bit hard for me to keep apart, the graphic format was actually a big help! It's fun to see Mia's fashions , and the bright colors and attractive illustrations will make this immediately popular with readers who want fun stories with lots of friend drama! Hand this to readers who have been enjoying the graphic novel reboots of popular older series like Martin's The Baby-sitter's Club or Pascal's Sweet Valley Twins, as well as those who enjoy the original graphic novels of Telgemeier, Jamieson, or Knisley. 

1 comment:

  1. The second I saw the Sweet Twins cover, I thought of the Sweet Valley High series but younger...and wondered if the concept isn't a little dated. Sounds like my gut might have hit that right. The Cupcake series is cute in graphic novel form, isn't it?