EMG Graphic Novel Roundup 6

The Wolf Suit
by Sid Sharp
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: There are some scary moments, and handwriting might be difficult for younger children to read. It’s in the Middle-Grade Graphic Novel section of the bookstore.

Bellweather is a simple sheep: he just wants to live in his little house by the forest and eat blackberries. However, in the forest are some Scary Wolves, who make it difficult to enjoy the delights of the forest. So one day, Bellweather decides to make a wolf suit and put it on, so he can go into the forest and enjoy it. However, there are Complications with being a wolf, and as Bellweather makes more wolf friends, he discovers that maybe being a wolf isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Oh my heavens, this was so cute. From the super-charming illustrations to the laugh-inducing twist (it’s even funny if you see it coming), it’s just all-around enjoyable. I loved it so much.

Fibbed
by Elizabeth Agyemang
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: There are some scary moments. It’s in the Middle-Grade Graphic Novel section of the bookstore.

Nana is a storyteller – she tells the things she sees. However, she seems to be the only one who sees them! Which means that everyone around her thinks that she’s a liar. And when she is sent to be with family in Ghana for the summer, it only intensifies. Especially when she starts seeing Ananse, the trickster god of stories, and learns about the evil that is going on in the forest.

This was a really intriguing way to approach the Ananse tales. I liked that Agyemang updated them, making them more contemporary while keeping the traditional feel. I liked Nana and the way she learned and grew in Ghana and the friends she made. I also liked the way that she and her friends were able to work with Ananse and defeat the colonizers. It’s a solid retelling with a modern spin, and I liked it a lot.

A Tale as Tall as Jacob
by Samantha Edwards
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: There is a lot of baby destruction and some sibling fighting. It’s in the Middle-Grade Graphic Novel section of the bookstore.

in this graphic sort-of memoir, Edwards recalls her childhood with a brother who was (eventually) diagnosed with ADHD. Jacob was rambunctious and sometimes violent, and often intrusive in Samantha’s personal space. It was challenging to be Jacob’s sister, but there were some good parts, too.

I thought this was an interesting look at ADHD. I feel there is a lot about how the person with ADHD feels or reacts to the world, but it’s not often we are given the perspective of a sibling. I appreciated that outside perspective, and how Edwards reacted to and with her brother. There were some genuinely sweet moments as well as more tense ones. It’s was really an insightful and interesting (and short) book.

The Doors to Nowhere
by Chris Grine
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: There is death and some scary moments. It’s in the Middle Grade Graphic Novel section of the bookstore.

Willow and her friends have gotten to know an old vampire, Elric, who happens to be caught up in this centuries-old conflict after stopping a grand spellbinder from becoming immortal (by killing a baby, who happened to have been Willow’s great-grandmother). In book one (I love it when I get sequels without reading the first one first!), Willow made a wish and it comes true in this book: she can read and speak Gnomish, which allows her to open her great-grandmother’s spellbook. They are chased by the weird museum curator in town (who happens to be an evil elf), who wants to resurrect the grand spellbinder. The kids can stop him, but at what cost?

If you’re lost, well, it makes a bit more sense while reading the book. I think it would make a LOT more sense if I had read the first one as well. I liked the story well enough: it was quick-paced, full of action, and I liked the way the kids – who all had different abilities – worked together. It’s the start (I think?) of a series, that I think kids will like (it’s giving off strong Amulet vibes). Not bad at all.

Just Roll with It
By Veronica Agarwal and Lee Durfey-Lavoie
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: There is discussion of mental illness and anxiety. It’s in the Middle-Grade Graphic Novel section of the bookstore.

Maggie just wants to be like everyone else. But, starting sixth grade has increase her anxiety, and she finds that she has to do certain things to make it through the day. She switches the light switch on and off when she gets home from school (or the house will be sad and might break down), she can’t lend her books out to her new friends. And, most importantly, she needs her d20 to let her know what she can and cannot do. But, as she makes more friends through the after-school RPG club, she finds ways to be more confident. And when she gets professional help for her OCD, she is finally able to become her best self.

There’s a lot of talking about mental illness in the graphic novels this year, and this one is no exception. Aragwal and Durfey-Lavoie provide a look into what having OCD might be like for one person. I was concerned that Maggie and her parents would try to solve this one by themselves, and was gratified when they got a professional invovled. I’m not sure it stood out to me, but I like that it’s out there for kids to be seen as well as for others to learn more about what OCD really is like.

Cat’s Cradle: The Golden Twine
by Jo Rioux
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: There are monsters and some scary moments. It’s in the Middle Grade Graphic Novel section of the bookstore.

Suri is a storyteller and a foundling that has found a home (sort of) at a traveling carnival. What she wants to be, though, is a monster hunter. Her stories all involve monsters and their capture, and she’s sure she can do that job. If anyone will let her. When the carnival stops, there are rumors of a caitsith, a cat-like monster who can pass for a human. Suri inadvertently encounters one, and takes their golden twine (it’s what makes the caitsith’s human), and then is chased by the monsters before realizing that the carnival has taken off without her.

If you can’t tell from the summary, there’s not a lot to the graphic novel. It’s nicely drawn, but the story…. lacks something. Well, maybe a lot of things. It’s got the bones of a good book, though maybe it’s just the set-up for more adventures (it is book 1, after all). Unfortunately, it’s not quite there as a really good book for me.

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