Saturday, April 01, 2023

Saturday Morning Cartoons- All the Graphic Novel Series!

Riordan, Rick and Young, Ethan (adapt.) The Maze of Bones (39 Clues #1)
April 4, 2023 by Graphix
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Dan and Amy Cahill were very fond of their grandmother, Grace, especially since their parents are dead and they are being raised by their evil great aunt Beatrice and a sympathetic nanny, Nellie. When Grace dies, the extended family gathers for the reading of the will only to find that Grace is offering two options for inheritance: accept a million dollars, or enter a competition with 39 clues for a bigger payoff. There are seven teams that accept the challenge, including Dan and Amy, although Beatrice says she won't have anything to do with them. The other family members range from really evil (Irina, Matalie and Ian Kabra) to buffoonish (the Holts) to potentially helpful (Alistair). Amy finds some clues in the house, only to almost die when the house burns down. One team is out of the competition already, but with the help of Grace's lawyer Mr. McIntyre as well as Nellie, Dan and Amy take off on an adventure that leads them to the catacombs of Paris. They have a variety of run ins with other family members who have no qualms about stealing from them. There's something dark going on, and a mysterious man in black is following them. What is the great mystery involving all of the branches of the Cahill family and their nemeses, the Madrigals? Spoiler: the original prose series (2008) has over 12 books, so there is definitely more to come!
Strengths: Riordan's Lightning Thief graphic novels circulate like mad, and are a good introduction to students who find the originals a bit challenging. This is a great adventure story, and the pictures do help tell the characters apart and give a better picture of Paris sites, especially the catacombs. Nellie is a great character, and Dan and Amy are able to gain a lot of skills and grow up quite a bit as they jet around the world. Also, I loved the pictures of Grace. I need to make sure that I have a broach or a corsage on MY death bed! It's interesting how cell phones became a part of the story. Makes it a bit different. 
Weaknesses: There are a lot of characters to keep straight. I am really amazed that the authors who continued this series were able to keep all of them portrayed consistently AND were able to execute the complicated plots in a consistent writing style! Whew. 
What I really think: My original paper over board books are quite worn out, so this will be a way to refresh them without having to buy new copies. Throw some more tape on the prose ones, so they are there if any of the graphic novel fans want to take a look. The 39 Clues web site is still running. 

Gibbs, Stuart and Sarkar, Anjan (illus. ) Spy Camp: The Graphic Novel 
April 4th 2023 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Copy provided by the publisher

This follows the same plot as the regular novel, which I reviewed in 2013: 
Looking forward to a summer at home after his event filled year in Spy School, Ben is dismayed to find that he only gets a weekend at home, and must go to a wilderness survival camp for the summer, along with his classmates. Also dismaying is a note from SPYDER. The group eventually demands that he join them or die, and they send Murray Hill, who is supposed to be incarcerated, to encourage him. Ben's a good guy, though, and doesn't even consider it. Things quickly go south when he is at camp, but he has the help of the brilliant and talented (not to mention pretty) Erica Hale. Her father, Alex, is assigned to keep Ben safe; it's just too bad that Erica is more equipped to deal with the situation than the acclaimed spy! When the bus they are on gets highjacked by SPYDER, Ben, Erica and Alex escape into the wilderness and decide to figure out whether Murray is really in the juvenile detention center. That's just their first mistake-- SPYDER is four or five steps ahead of them at every turn, and it's clear that they are not really after Ben. The romp continues with lots of twists and turns, as well as a stint in a Civil War reenactment. The group manages to save the day... for now.

The graphic novel does try to work in all of the plot strings and character development, which makes this a more satisfying read than many graphic novel adaptations, but also makes for very, very tiny font. I wouldn't agree with the illustrator's assessment that his illustrations are "wonjy and misshapen"; there was nothing in his style that irritated me. The palette is a lot of muted greens and grays, which makes sense for the camp setting, but did give a bit of a murky feel to the book. I do love that the style of the original cover was preserved; I shelve my graphic novels alongside the originals, hoping to entice readers to continue the series beyond the second book.

The graphic novel is a great way to introduce this series to readers who might not otherwise pick it up, although I have also had a number of students who have read the entire series who go back to read the graphic novel version as a way to revisit the series without as big a time committment!

Craft, Jerry. School Trip. (New Kid #3)
April 4, 2023 Quill Tree Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Jordan is still attending Riverdale Academy School, but has just gotten accepted to art school. He's thinking he will accept, but his mother doesn't think it's a good idea. Meanwhile, the RAD class trips are getting ready to depart. Some students are going to Alaska, some to the South, and Jordan and his friends are heading to Paris with the French teacher. Due to some destructive hijinks my frequent misbehavers, the chaperone list and travel documents are messed up, and on the day of the trip it turns out that Jordan's group will be traveling with two different teachers, Mr. Roche and Mr. Garner. Along with his best friend at school, Drew,  Ramon, Liam, Maury, Alex, Ashley, and Samira will be on the trip. Unfortunately, so will Andy. Things go fairly smoothly, and the group gets to Paris okay, but there are some snags once they get there. The school credit card is declined, so Maury (whose family is very wealthy) picks up the tab. The group can't take the hop-on-hop-off buses, so walk instead. They experience a lot of different food, see the sights, and learn some life lessons along the way. Andy, who can't seem to interact appropriately with anyone who is not white, is brought to task for his negative ways, his inappropriate and unfunny jokes, and his general treatment of anyone who is different from him. Jordan is glad that he is able to travel, but realizes that there aren't a lot of portrayals of BIPOC students traveling, and wishes he could have seen this reflected in the media. When the group returns to school, they are glad that Andy has apologized to Ramon, whom he treated especially badly, and that their librarian has gotten a grant for more inclusive titles that aren't centered around trauma, as well as for more graphic novels. 
Strengths: For some reasons, there seem to be  fewer graphic novels with boys as the main characters, so it's good to see more books in this series. I like to be able to have a balanced collection in many respects; unlike Miss Brickner, the RAD librarian, I've been trying since before 2014 to have a more diverse book collection! I'm always a fan of books where kids travel, and this is a great trip to Paris without even leaving my armchair. The interpersonal problems are woven deftly into a fun story, so the action is never slowed down. The life lessons that Jordan examines in his comic book style chapters are important ones, but delivered with a light touch. This book will be popular with my students. 
Weaknesses: There are a lot of self-referential comments, especially about books being banned and the liklihood of artists being successful, that I'm not sure my students will get. In fifty years, they will be fascinating to scholars of middle grade lit, certainly. I felt like there were a lot of inside jokes I wasn't quite getting. 
What I really think: Both New Kid and Class Act circulate well in my library, so I will definitely be purchasing, especially since one of our language arts classes studies New Kid as a class novel, and demand for the sequels is always strong when a book is studied. 

No comments:

Post a Comment