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Beak & Ally: Unlikely Friends

Beak & Ally: Unlikely Friends

Beak & Ally: Unlikely Friends

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beak & Ally: Unlikely Friends

Norm Feuti

HarperCollins US, 2021

64pp., graphic novel, RRP $A24.99

9780063021570

Ally the alligator is perfectly happy being alone . . . until one day a noisy bird named Beak lands on her snout.

Beak thinks Ally is lonely and needs a friend. He has all sorts of friendship goals in mind, like riding bikes together, going to the movies together, and even solving mysteries together! But when a Long-Billed Party Pooper crashes Beak’s nest-warming party, Ally decides to show Beak something important to her: sticking up for what’s right.

Newly independent readers will be thrilled to have a graphic novel series written for them with stories aimed at their interest level while not having to cope with too much text.  Well titled “Unlikely Friends” this combination of an alligator and a bird as a team is hard to imagine but it does set the scene for some interesting adventures, the next of which is due in early December. So while the theme of the story is not new, its format that is so similar to that which older siblings are enjoying will appeal. 

 

Goldilocks: Wanted Dead or Alive

Goldilocks: Wanted Dead or Alive

Goldilocks: Wanted Dead or Alive

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goldilocks: Wanted Dead or Alive

Chris Colfer

Jon Proctor

Little Brown, 2021

330pp., pbk., RRP $A22.99

9781510202504

When we first meet her in The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell, Goldilocks is a beautiful and tough-as-nails outlaw. In this brand new, lushly illustrated full-colour graphic novel, readers learn her origin story as she takes you on adventures where she may or may not break a few laws along the way.

Once upon a time, the kingdoms of the fairy-tale world lived in perfect harmony under the guidance of the Happily Ever After Assembly. But not all creatures and territories have been invited to this peaceful union. Monsters and criminals have found refuge in the Dwarf Forests, a land without rulers or law. When a plot by the Charming brothers is unveiled and threatens to push society’s unwanted from their homes, the fairy-tale world’s harmony and Goldilocks’ home are put in jeopardy…

Not being able to read graphic novels (not even comics as a child) I drew on the wisdom of my colleagues for advice about the suitability of this book and series for those in the target parameters of this blog and I was assured that it would be very suitable for mature independent readers at the upper end of its reach, so late Year 3 and beyond.  The series features on the NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge for Years 5 and 6  and when I mentioned it to Miss 10, she immediately said, “Save it for me, Grandma.” (The series is now heading for her Santa Sack.)

I love when one book leads to so many more that can satisfy our readers, particularly at a time when reading will be filling many hours. 

The Super Adventures of Ollie and Bea (series)

The Super Adventures of Ollie and Bea

The Super Adventures of Ollie and Bea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Super Adventures of Ollie and Bea

It’s Owl Good

9781760526474

Squeals on Wheels

9781760526481

Renee Treml

A&U Children’s 2021

64pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

Ollie is an owl who wears glasses. And Bea is a bunny with very big feet. They don’t know it yet, but they are about to be best friends. Can they help each other to find their OTTER-LY awesome inner superhero?

This is a new series in graphic novel format for young readers transitioning from the basal readers of commercial reading schemes to less-controlled books offering a stepping stone to more complex “early chapter books”. Treml has endowed her characters with the usual charm so they appeal to her audience and Owl’s constant corny puns offer an introduction to this play on words as a humorous concept.  Told as a continuous conversation primarily between Owl and Bea, unlike her Sherlock Bones series, this one has blank backgrounds that therefore place the emphasis on the characters and what they are saying, another opportunity to explore the concept of how critical dialogue can be to carry the story.

Young readers will relate to and like Ollie and Bea, seeing parts of themselves in each, and will no doubt look forward to further adventures. 

 

Super Geeks 2: Planet Pancake

Super Geeks 2: Planet Pancake

Super Geeks 2: Planet Pancake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Super Geeks 2: Planet Pancake

James Hart

Puffin. 2021

208pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

 9781760895143

Zeek and Arnie are best friends. They do everything together. They love solving problems, inventing, playing video games, coding, reading comics, cooking (mostly Arnie) and planning WORLD DOMINATION (mostly Zeek). 

In the second in this series,  Zeek and Arnie hear about a heap of TREASURE at the edge of the world, so they decide to investigate. Zeek wants to use the treasure to fund his quest for WORLD DOMINATION! But how will they get there? After using their inventing skills to build a ship, the Enchilada, they sail off with Eleanor. But there’s trouble brewing on the horizon . . . What will Zeek and Arnie find at the edge of the world? Will it be TREASURE or TROUBLE? And . . . are they really alone?

The graphic novel format of this book with a minimum of text carrying the story along at a fast pace will appeal to those who prefer screen to print and who, themselves, relate to the geekiness of the boys.  Those who enjoyed the first in the series will appreciate not having had to wait too long to meet their friends again and join in another madcap adventure. 

Pawcasso

Pawcasso

Pawcasso

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pawcasso

Remy Lai

A & U Children’s, 2021

240pp., graphic novel, RRP $A16.99

9781760526771

Every Saturday, Pawcasso trots into town  on his own with a basket, a shopping list and cash in paw to buy groceries for his family. One day, he passes by Jo’s house, where she’s peering out the window, bored and lonely. When Jo sets out to follow him, a group of kids from school mistake her for Pawcasso’s owner and, excited to make new friends, she reluctantly hides the truth. But what starts as a Chihuahua-sized lie quickly grows into a Great Dane-sized problem when Pawcasso gets his own internet fan club … will Jo be able to solve the mystery of the dog’s owners before she is caught out in her web of lies, will Jo risk her new friendships by telling the t? Are hew new friendships more important than telling the truth?

This is a graphic novel which provides many hilarious moments as it delves into Jo and Pawcasso’s adventures as well as setting up a dilemma that students may well debate the solution for as the various layers impacting Jo’s life are considered.  What drives us to tell “little white lies” and when do they become untruths that can trap us?  Is a “little white lie” ever acceptable?

The community which Jo finds herself venturing into reflects the communities that we all live in – there are always everyday issues that take on a life on their own and divide residents – and Lai uses clever techniques such as having Jo join a book club to discuss philosophical questions such as “If love comes from the heart, does hate come from the brain?”  offering scope for lively class discussions within an at-arms-length context.

While its graphic novel format may entice hesitant readers  to engage with reading, this is a story that poses questions in a way that demonstrates the power of story to address those big questions while being entertaining at the same time.  There are several downloads for teachers available on the publisher’s website.  Intriguing.

Comic Classics: Treasure Island

Comic Classics: Treasure Island

Comic Classics: Treasure Island

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comic Classics: Treasure Island

Robert Louis Stevenson

Jack Noel

Farshore Fiction, 2021

256pp., pbk., RRP $A 14.99

9781405294065

The classic tale of Jim Hawkins, Dr Livesey, Squire John Trelawney, Long John Silver, Ben Gunn and an assortment of other characters who set out on the Hispaniola to find Captain Flint’s long-buried treasure is brought to a new audience in this adaptation by illustrator Jack Noel to graphic novel format.

Adapted into numerous films, plays and other productions, this epitome of pirate stories really belongs in every child’s literary repertoire and using all the visual techniques that attract today’s young readers, the once-difficult language of the late 19th century storyteller is now accessible to today’s generation. So much of what we believe about pirates, their vocabulary and actions stems from Stevenson’s imagination so even if the student can’t manage the original, this interpretation will give them some insight and understanding of a story that they are expected to be familiar with in their later studies. 

This is the second in this series – the first is Great Expectations – and it would be a worthwhile addition to any library collection that seeks to extend children’s reading into the realm of stories to be read again and again. 

 

The Wind in the Willows Graphic Novel

The Wind in the Willows Graphic Novel

The Wind in the Willows Graphic Novel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wind in the Willows Graphic Novel

Russell Punter & Kenneth Grahame

Xavier Bonet

Usborne, 2021 

104pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781474968867

In 1908 British author brought children the story of Mole, Rat and Badger and their efforts to reform the friendly but conceited and mischievous Mr Toad of Toad Hall who is fascinated by the latest fads, particularly motorcars.  But Toad is not the best of drivers and after many mishaps, finds himself in prison for 20 years for stealing a car.  Even though he eventually escapes, during his absence his magnificent Toad Hall has been overtaken by weasels and stoats, and it becomes a battle to get it back.

Now, over 100 years on, it has been interpreted in graphic novel format to appeal to a new generation of readers,  offering them an introduction to this classic story which has delighted so many before.  This is the latest in this series which includes The Wizard of Oz  and The Three Musketeers which opens up a new world of literature from past generations, inspiring independent readers to seek out the original versions. It is fast-paced and funny and has all the ingredients that have enabled it to endure for so long.

Super Geeks 1: Fish and Chips

Super Geeks 1: Fish and Chips

Super Geeks 1: Fish and Chips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Super Geeks 1: Fish and Chips

James Hart

Puffin, 2021

208pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760895129

Zeek and Arnie are best friends. They do everything together. They love solving problems, inventing, playing video games, coding, reading comics, cooking (mostly Arnie) and planning WORLD DOMINATION (mostly Zeek).

But when Zeek puts a microchip in Arnie’s pet fish, Eleanor, things go horribly wrong . . . A super-intelligent Eleanor decides she’s going to become the supreme ruler of the world.

How will Zeek and Arnie stop Eleanor’s fish-bot army and prevent this power-hungry fish from achieving WORLD DOMINATION?

This is a new series likely to appeal to those who prefer screens and coding to print because it crosses both borders.  James Hart is the illustrator behind a number of popular series including Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables but this is debut as an author. The graphic novel format is ideal for the intended audience and the story moves along at a fast clip that has characters readers can identify with and lots of humour.

Something to offer those boys you are trying to reach out to. 

 

The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wizard of Oz

Russell Punter & L. Frank Baum

Simona Bursi

Usborne, 2020

104pp., graphic novel, RRP $A16.99

9781474968850

The classic story of Dorothy, the Tinman, the Scarecrow the Cowardly Lion, the Munchkins and the Wicked Witch of the West has been beautifully reinterpreted in this colourful graphic novel, perfect for younger readers who have not yet made the journey from Kansas to the Emerald City and just in time to be a focus for the 2021 Book Week theme of Old Worlds, New Worlds, Other Worlds. 

Declared by the US Library of Congress as “America’s greatest and best-loved homegrown fairytale.”, this is a story that all children should be familiar with given the references from it that appear in life today, and so to have it in graphic novel format which makes it accessible to newly independent readers and a whole new generation of children is a bonus. The full plot of the story is summarised here, and it could be wise to have the unabridged classic version available for those who are enticed to read that as well. 

 

The Odds

The Odds

The Odds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Odds

Matt Stanton

ABC Books, 2020

208pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780733340635

Kip is a quiet kid in a loud city. Living with her father after her mum died, she prefers to keep a low profile and her home is her sanctuary. She’s easy to miss and that’s the way she likes it. School, with its hustle and bustle and noise is overwhelming and she is dreading the day the spotlight falls on her and she has to tell the rest of the class why she is special.

Then, one day, Kip’s quiet life is suddenly interrupted. Ten of her favourite characters have stepped out of their worlds of her imagination and memories and into hers as real-life beings.

But what happens when a dragon-hunting rabbit leaves his comic strip? When an old man leaves his picture book? When a ninja leaves her TV show, a race-car driver leaves their video game, and a dinosaur turns up from Kip’s nightmares? But while Kip just wants the creatures to hide and be invisible as she wishes to be, her father tells her , “If you start running away from hard things you never stop running” and Kip (and the reader) learn a significant life lesson.

Matt Stanton is rapidly becoming one of the decade’s most sought after authors by young, newly independent readers who like his humour that is always tempered with a good, solid storyline focusing on activities and issues  that resonate with his audience.  While not all will have dragon-hunting rabbits in their lives, nevertheless they will have those familiar feelings of fitting in, self-doubt and discovering just who they are as they become more and more independent and start to have their own opinions and ideas that shape their identities.

Using his cartooning skills, Stanton has produced a graphic novel that is going to appeal to a wide range of readers, each of whom will see themselves in one of the characters such as the little elephant who really just wants to hide under the covers all day.  Using a graphic novel format means the reader has to engage with the story in an active way taking in all that is going on so the continuity is maintained and in such a visually-dominated world, this is a critical skill.

The first in the series, this is a book that has depth as well as diversity and carries a message that will reach out to even the most reluctant reader.