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KCC Reviews and Recommendations

Page history last edited by Amy Holland 8 years, 6 months ago


This page is for reviews and recommendations of kids' comics titles by Kids' Comics Committee members or KCC contributors.


2010 Reviews

2009 Reviews


April 5, 2012

Around the World by Matt Phelan 

This beautifully illustrated graphic novel tells the story of three different people who each circumnavigate the globe. Thomas Stevens travels by bicycle; Nellie Bly travels by boat and train (and is trying to make the journey in less than 80 days); and Joshua Slocum travels by boat. In an author's note, Phelan comments on how he tried to show each individual's personal motivation for traveling, and I think he did an excellent job with this piece of the story. My favorite part was the artwork, though - Phelan's loose style looks effortless, and he does a fantastic job of capturing moods, emotions, and details. I liked this book better than The Storm in the Barn - this story wasn't open-ended at all, and I love any book that highlights early feminists (go, Nellie Bly!). A beautiful little book that is definitely worth the short while it takes to read it.

Reviewed by Amy


October 9th, 2011

Luz Sees the Light by Claudia Davila

Luz doesn't think much about sustainability or green living. She always wants her mom to drive her to the mall (when she could just as easily walk) and she's dying to buy a pair of designer shoes that are imported from Europe. But then blackouts keep plaguing the city, which inspires Luz to find out about how energy use impacts the planet. Her mom explains that relying on too much energy (i.e. oil and coal) depletes the Earth of its natural resources, and that if we're going to make them last, we need to adjust our lifestyles by doing things like buying locally and walking/biking to destinations that are close by. Luz is inspired, and decides to transform a trashed vacant lot into a community space/garden. At first she's overwhelmed with how much work it will be, but then her friends and neighbors pitch in to make her dream a reality. It won't save the world, but the community garden is a small step in the right direction for Luz's city. 

I really like the topic that this book addresses, but I thought parts of it were way too preachy. The factual stuff would have fit better in sidebars or a fact sheet at the end. Incorporating it into the dialogue between the characters seemed unnatural. I also thought that the ending was very unrealistic. Having had some experience trying to rally people around a particular cause, I know that it would take A LOT of time and effort to get a project like a community garden off the ground. It seems like Luz and her friends do it in a week or two. The artwork was cute, but it wasn't enough to save the sub-par storytelling.


September 13th, 2011

Bake Sale by Sara Varon

Cupcake runs a bakery, and has a pretty sweet life (har har) - he has great friends like Eggplant, and he loves playing drums in the band. Things get even better when he learns that Eggplant has a personal connection to Turkish Delight, a master baker. The two friends embark on a mission to raise enough money for both of them to fly to Turkey and meet Turkish Delight. Cupcake quits the band so that he has extra time to sell his baked good at local events and venues, and finally scrapes together enough money for his plane ticket. Unfortunately, Eggplant loses his painting job and has no way to put the money together in time for their planned trip. Being a good friend, Cupcake selflessly gives Eggplant the extra money that he earned so that Eggplant can still see his aunt and uncle in Turkey. Instead of feeling good about his decision, though, Cupcake feels empty and listless. After all, he gave up his dream to meet his idol. When Eggplant returns, Cupcake perks up a little bit, for at least he has his best friend back. While leafing through a baking magazine, Eggplant spots an ad for a baking contest where the prize is two free plane tickets to anywhere in the world. Finally - this is Cupcake's chance to get to Turkey! Surprisingly, though, Cupcake simply says: "Turkey would be great. It doesn't have to be Turkey though. Anywhere would be great." I think the implication is that anywhere would be great as long as it's with Eggplant. The ending definitely seemed abrupt and not really in line with the rest of the book; Cupcake was so depressed about not going to Turkey, so why would he suddenly not care about it? That was my main qualm with this book, but maybe I'm just over thinking it. As usual, I loved the illustrations. I especially love the idea of a Brooklyn-esque town populated with walking, talking food items. How does that work, though, when you're a walking, talking cupcake and you sell baked goods for a living? Me being picky aside, I thought this was a great comic.

Reviewed by Amy


September 10th, 2011 

Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking by Philippe Coudray 

Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking by Philippe Coudray

This was a super-quick read, but every page contains a pretty funny joke. The text is probably simple enough for a beginning reader, but I think you need some level of visual literacy to totally get most of the punchlines. My favorite joke was the one where Bears paints this messed up picture of Cow (which Cow laughs at), so Bear smacks Cow over the head to make him look messed up like the picture. Bear kind of reminds me of Frank Asch's bears, but lumpier and angrier. This is another great addition to the Toon series.

Reviewed by Amy










April 6, 2011

Anne Frank:  The Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Biography by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon.



“Rich!”  That is the word I would use to describe this graphic biography of Anne Frank.  It is so rich with historical detail the reader will become lost in the story, even though we are all well aware of the tragic ending.  Fans of Anne Frank’s diary will no doubt enjoy this latest telling of her story and will be pleased to see that Jacobson’s treatment goes beyond the pages of her diary to give the reader in depth historical information.  The graphic novel begins with the meeting of Anne’s parents and a brief but helpful summary of the circumstances surrounding WWI.  Alongside the personal details of Anne’s life, Jacobson and Colon explain the historical context of the time; from the German economic crisis after WWI, to the rise of Nazism, and finally the persecution of European Jews.  This historical backdrop is so well integrated into the story that it does not interrupt the flow of Anne’s personal drama.  The book does not end with the discovery of the secret annex but tells of Anne’s suffering after she was taken to various Nazi concentration camps.   Anne Frank’s story is so well know it would seem difficult to create a book that takes a fresh approach and yet stays true to her legacy.  Jacobson and Colon have achieved that, and done so masterfully.  I would highly recommend this book to older elementary kids, teens, and adults.

Reviewed by Anne








March 29, 2011

Sticky Burr: The Prickly Peril by John Lechner

Sticky Burr #2: The Prickly Peril



This one caught my eye because I like random things, and what could be more random than a comic about a burr? Yes, that's right - it's a comic about a burr: those prickly things that get stuck to your socks and pants when you walk through a meadow (or whatever - I don't have tons of experience with burrs). I wanted it to be the same kind of weirdness as Sardine, but instead it was just kind of lame. The basic plot: Sticky Burr wants to have a harvest festival, but is having a hard time getting the other burrs on board with his optimistic, go-get-'em attitude. Scurvy Burr, in particular, can't stand Sticky Burr, so he hatches a plan to get rid of his chronically cheerful nemesis. He makes a deal with evil Burweena wherein she will get rid of Sticky Burr if Scurvy Burr gets rid of the trumpet vine that surrounds their village (she is allergic to trumpet vine, and eliminating it will allow her to take over the village). Of course, the evil plans are dashed to pieces and Sticky Burr not only saves the day, but also puts on one heck of a harvest festival. For comics of this ilk, definitely go with the Sardine series.

Reviewed by Amy








March 28, 2011

Fashion Kitty by Cherise Mericle Harper

Fashion Kitty



Kiki Kitty is a just a regular cat until a stack of fashion magazines bonks her on the head while she is making her birthday wish.  Then she becomes...Fashion Kitty!  She gains the power to fly, and goes all over to help people avoid fashion disasters.  In this installment, Fashion Kitty's main goal is to help a fashion outcast avoid embarrassment, and to teach a school bully a lesson.  She succeeds (quite fashionably, of course), and leaves the world just a bit more stylish.

Very cute, very fun.  This is a perfect read-alike for kids who love Babymouse.  The one thing that kills me about this book is that the illustration of the cat father reminds me so strongly of an illustration of a book from my childhood, yet I can't for the life of me remember what it is!  If you have any ideas, make sure to shoot them my way!

Reviewed by Amy




March 14, 2011

Big Nate: From the Top by Lincoln Peirce


Apparently, the star of Big Nate Strikes Again started out as a daily comic strip. I haven't read any of the prose/comics hybrids, but they're popular, and this should prove to be just as popular. Nate is kind of like what Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes would be like if he had non-stuffed friends. He exhibits the same combination of creativity, intelligence, and utter cluelessness that Calvin does, and it doesn't feel ripped off because of the dynamic Nate has with his friends and (would-be) girlfriends. It's mostly amusing and entertaining, occasionally even gut-bustingly funny. My only concerns pertain to a mention of trolling "for nudity" in a National Geographic magazine and the sequence of strips about a comic book called Femme Fatality, which apparently is titillating enough for Nate's dad to want to read it as well as his older sister's boyfriend. These are mild, admittedly, and instances few and far between. But they are definitely worth noting so that librarians don't handsell them to younger elementary-aged kids. Almost to a copy, Big Nate books find themselves in children's collections in Monroe County, so it seems like a no-brainer to keep this there as well. Otherwise, I'd recommend this to fans of Calvin and Hobbes as well as Diary of a Wimpy Kid and think it would make a suitable crossover comic for typically non-comics-reading kids.


Reviewed by Jason


March 11, 2011

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch 


From the sarcastic tagline on the cover, “Yet Another Troll-Fighting 11-Year-Old Orthodox Jewish Girl,” you know that this is probably a different sort of story and in many ways it is. It is set in an Orthodox Jewish community that is so isolated from the gentile world that none of the kids recognize a pig when they see it. They go to school where the girls and boys are in separate classes, lunch and recess. Girls and women wear long skirts and men and boys have long sidelocks and wear yarmulkes. While this is very different from the lives of the majority of readers there is much more here that is familiar. There are the same old family tensions with step-mothers, bossy big sisters and annoying little brothers. There are bullies and popular girls, good girls and rebels. Deutsch does a great job of balancing the different and familiar. There are Yiddish words sprinkled throughout but not too many and they are simply translated below so that your reading is barely interrupted. They give a nice sense of the culture of Mirka’s community as do her explanations of some of their customs.  You do learn but it never seems “teachy.” It is first and foremost about Mirka who loves to read about monsters and wants to fight dragons; how she “fights” a troll and gets her sword. I hope to see more of Mirka’s adventures. Highly recommended.


Reviewed by Miranda



February 25, 2011

Abadazad by J.M. Matteis, illus. by Mike Ploog 

Abadazad: The Road to Inconceivable - Book #1 (Abadazad) by J.M. DeMatteis 


When Kate is nine, her little brother, Matt, is her world.  They are inseparable, and, contrary to typical sibling relationships, Matt can do no wrong in Kate's eyes.  Then one day, Matt disappears without a trace, and as the years progress, is presumed dead.  Kate develops into a surly teen, still haunted by Matt's sudden and inexplicable disappearance.  She fights with her mother daily, doesn't get along with the kids at school, and generally feels confusion about her life and the turns it has taken.  Then, on another fateful day, Kate's decrepit old neighbor, Mrs. Vaughn,invites her into her home.  Mrs. Vaughn claims that Abadazad, the fantastical place that is the setting for a series of children's books, is real.  Not only that, but she claims that Matt is alive and being held captive there.  Shortly thereafter, she drops dead, leaving Kate the magic globe that will transport her to Abadazad.  Still being her surly, sulky self, Kate is skeptical.  Yet when she says the magic words, she finds herself in the magical world of Abadazad.  Now she just has to figure out how to get Matt back... 

Very cool format.  This book is a mixture of comics, text from Kate's diary, and snippets from the Abadazad books.  I think the format was my favorite part of the book - each element blended pretty seamlessly into the next.  The story was decent, although I had a hard time swallowing the idea that Kate and Matt loved each other so unconditionally as children; most siblings don't get along at such a young age.  As for the art, it was fine.  Nothing earth-shattering.  Mrs. Vaughn was supposed to be black, but instead she looked orange - that was not so good.  And I'm not a fan of the cover art - I don't this it's representative of what the story is about.  All in all, though, it's a decent read that earns points for it's unusual cobbled-together format.

 Reviewed by Amy


Resistance: Book 1 by Carla Jablonsky and Leland Purvis


Paul and his younger sister Marie live in a small French village during WWII.  Although they technically live in the unoccupied, or “Free,” territory of France the horrors of war are beginning to affect them.  When the parents of their close friend Henri suddenly disappear, Paul and Marie decide they must help him. Since Henri is Jewish the decision is all the more treacherous and eventually leads them to become a small part of the French Resistance.  Paul’s sketches appear throughout the story allowing the reader to see the world from his perspective.  Jablonski does a good job of portraying the fear, uncertainty, and danger of the time while still creating a true adventure story whose protagonists are a small group of clever kids. It is difficult to write about WWII and the Holocaust without watering it down for young audiences but this comic is able to achieve that.  I anxiously await the next two titles in this series and recommend Resistance book 1 for upper elementary and middle school readers.


Reviewed by Anne




February 1, 2011

G-Man: Cape Crisis by Chris Giarrusso



Giarrusso picks up right where he left off in volume one with a lot of the same kind of humor and humorous situations involving the two super-powered brothers. The main difference is that the entire volume is committed to a complete story arc. The boys misuse the magic cloth that gives the cape and sash that make up their respective costumes their powers and have to travel to a mysterious floating island to get them back. It's entertaining and a lot of fun, but I missed the first volume's Archie-like one-page gags in between issues. Hopefully Giarrusso will incorporate both elements into the next volume for the best of both worlds. Highly recommended.



Reviewed by Jason




January 27, 2011

Grampa and Julie: Shark Hunters by Jef Czekaj


This one is bookended by Julie giving her class report about her summer vacation.  The middle is, of course, a depiction of all her various adventures with her crazy Grampa.  They start out trying to find Stephen, the biggest shark in the world, but get sidetracked by numerous hurdles - including cats who are trying to find Stephen so that they can make him into cat food.  In the end, they find Stephen, who they re-unite with his long-lost mother, Stephanie, and Julie, Grampa, and Gramma make it safely home.  I loved some of the absurd characters in this book, like Jordan the scientist monster and the abominable snowmen.  A good choice for beginning comics readers, as the panels are brightly colored and nice and big.  Not a personal favorite, but kids will probably pick it up, particularly since it has the Nickelodeon logo on the front.


Reviewed by Amy



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