A Panel of Middle Grade Graphic Novels

Get it? A panel? That’s a little comics humor there for you. And speaking of humor, some of these graphic novels pack a punch:

Babymouse: Queen of the World!, by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (2005)

Babymouse is pretty bored with her life. Everyday she wakes up, puts on the same dress, eats the same breakfast, and is late to the same class, because her silly locker gets stuck. Luckily, Babymouse has a great imagination. Instead of being stuck in boring classes, she is whisked away into fairy tales and mysteries and great adventures. But there is one place to which Babymouse’s imagination can’t take her: Felicia Furrypaws’ Friday night slumber party. Babymouse is desperate to get to that party, but what will she have to sacrifice in order to get there?

A lot of fun and right on target with elementary school relationships, 2 stars

Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom, by Eric Wight (2009)

Although Frankie Pickle isn’t a graphic novel by the strictest sense of the word (it’s more of a hybrid, actually), it reminds me so much of Babymouse, that is felt natural to include it. Like Babymouse, Frankie has an incredible imagination that takes him out of his normal life and sets him down in a great adventure. His mom keeps ruining these great adventures, though, every time she tells him to clean his room, until one day, his mom strangely backs down. As long as Frankie can deal with the consequences, she says, the room can stay in any state he would like. Needless to say, Frankie is THRILLED and immediately jumps into another adventure. But how long can the mess pile up, before it buries him completely?

Goofy, entertaining, quick read: 2 stars.

Lunch Lady and the League of Librarians, by Jarrett J. Krosoczka (2009)

I’ll go ahead and pass on being offended by the fact that the “League of Librarians” are the villains here, because the Lunch Lady is too much fun (and possibly a grown up version of Pepper Ann). Full disclosure, this is the second in the series (it’s all that was on the library shelf), but if the way kids check them out is any indication, the order isn’t particularly important in this series. Here’s all you have to know: Lunch Lady and her sidekick Betty are posing as just your average school cafeteria workers, but are actually crime-fighting superheroes. Hector, Terrence, and Dee are three kids known as the Breakfast Bunch who know Lunch Lady and Betty’s true identities. In this particular episode, the librarians are busy prepping for the annual book fair in the library, but both our superheroes and the members of the Breakfast Brunch notice that they’re up to something more sinister. They’ll need to team up to figure out just what it is.

Because, why not have a crime-fighting lunch lady? 1.5 stars

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword, by Barry Deutsch (2010)

I’ve been reading these GNs in preparation for a booktalk to second graders, and although I don’t think this one will be one of the ones I talk, the tagline caught my attention: “Yet another troll-fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl.” Well, sure. Let’s read a comic about that. Mirka, the 11-year-old girl in question,  is living in a very Orthodox community with her younger brother, many sisters, father, and a step-mother, Fruma, who won’t stop arguing with her. This, of course, drives Mirka crazy, but soon something happens that makes Fruma the least of Mirka’s problems: after hiding from some bullies in the woods, Mirka stumbles upon a huge mansion she’s never seen before and a homeowner who’s a witch. Not long after that, she meets a very angry talking pig who wants revenge. And then she has to fight a six-legged spider-like troll with only a pair of knitting needles.

Strange and interesting, 1.5 stars

The Stonekeeper (Amulet #1), by Kazu Kibuishi (2008)

Two years ago, the family car flipped over the edge of a cliff, leaving Emily and her little brother Nevin fatherless. Now, Emily’s mother can no longer afford to keep them in their expensive home, so they pick up and move to an old home that has been in the family for generations. While giving the house a good scrubbing, Emily finds a necklace, from which she hears a voice speaking to her when she puts it on. When the family wakes after hearing noises in the basement one night, Emily’s mom goes downstairs to investigate. What awaits her, and Emily and Nevin, is nothing from this world, and soon the whole family is carried into an alternate universe where Emily’s great-grandfather has been living for years. Emily must figure out how to save her mother and brother from the monsters of this place and learn to take her place in the family history.

Exciting — can’t wait to get my hands on the next installment: 2 stars

Bad Island, by Doug Tennapel (2011)

Reese’s dad insists that the family go on a family boat trip, and Reese wants nothing to do with it. But the entire family (Mom, Dad, Reese, and little sister) gets on the boat, which soon is swept up in a sudden storm and crashes onto a seemingly deserted island. Botanist Mom soon notices the strange plants on the island, and everyone notices when a boulder gets up and walks away. Things on this island are different than anything the family has ever seen before, and more than that, the island seems to have it out for them. Simultaneously, the reader gets flashbacks to another rocky family relationship during some distant alien war, which makes one anxious to figure out how the story lines connect.

I was thoroughly engaged with this non-serial family adventure, and now want to check out what else Tennapel has to offer. 2 stars.

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