This week’s mini review round-up includes four MG graphic novels!:
- diverse contemporary
- diverse fantasy
TITLE: Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Donner Dinner Party
AUTHOR: Nathan Hale
AGE RANGE: MG
The Donner Party expedition is one of the most notorious stories in all of American history. It’s also a fascinating snapshot of the westward expansion of the United States, and the families and individuals who sacrificed so much to build new lives in a largely unknown landscape. From the preparation for the journey to each disastrous leg of the trip, this book shows the specific bad decisions that led to the party’s predicament in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The graphic novel focuses on the struggles of the Reed family to tell the true story of the catastrophic journey.
While the Donner Dinner Party is still an infamous tragedy that definitely strikes me as an adult, when I was a kid, I was obsessed with historical tales of disastrous events like this one. The cannibalism alone was enough to intrigue me, much less all of the other awful layers to the Donner Party! So, when I saw that a nonfiction graphic novel series had decided to tackle the tale, I had to check it out — I wondered if it would sugarcoat things, and frankly, it didn’t at all, which impressed me. This was a really enjoyable (and surprisingly humorous) take on the story, and I learned a few new things, too.
AUTHOR: Raina Telgemeier
AGE RANGE: MG
Callie loves theater. And while she would totally try out for her middle school’s production of Moon Over Mississippi, she’s a terrible singer. Instead she’s the set designer for the stage crew, and this year she’s determined to create a set worthy of Broadway on a middle-school budget. But how can she, when she doesn’t know much about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together? Not to mention the onstage AND offstage drama that occurs once the actors are chosen, and when two cute brothers enter the picture, things get even crazier!
– normalized queer rep that is very sweet ♥
– cute art & pretty color palettes
– relatable for anyone who’s lived through the horrors of middle school, but esp. if they were/are in drama!
– honestly… kind of boring 🙁
– the MC is so boy-crazy it got a little old. I wanted to see more of her interacting with friends she wasn’t crushing on!
All in all, though, this was really cute and I enjoy the thought of giving two middle fingers up to everyone who thinks this book should be banned for a chaste, one-panel kiss between two consenting boys, so… yeah, 4 stars. 🙂
TITLE: Bee & Puppycat, Vol. 1
AUTHOR: Natasha Allegri
AGE RANGE: MG
This quirky take on the magical girl genre comes to life with Bee, a not-so-graceful temp worker and her partner Puppycat, the sour curmudgeon who helps her pay rent. Watch these two roommates take on a variety of jobs from cleaning house to finding plants in a collection of charming shorts by indie all-stars Madéleine Flores (Help Us! Great Warrior), Frank Gibson and Becky Dreistadt (Capture Creatures), and more!
– the art is beautiful
– these color palettes are A++++
– puppycat is hilarious with or without context
– even as someone who HAS seen some of the cartoon, this makes very little sense, and I feel like it would make NO SENSE AT ALL to the average person who picks this up without knowing it’s a cartoon series as well
– no cohesion WHATSOEVER to these little story snippets
This is one of the most unexpectedly disappointing reads of the year, geez.
TITLE: Aquicorn Cove
AUTHOR: Katie O’Neill
AGE RANGE: MG
When Lana and her father return to their seaside hometown to help clear the debris of a storm, the last thing she expects is to discover a colony of Aquicorns—magical seahorse-like residents of the coral reef. As she explores the damaged town and the fabled undersea palace, Lana learns that while she cannot always count on adults to be the guardians she needs, she herself is capable of finding the strength to protect both the ocean, and her own happiness.
Katie O’Neill never stops stunning me. Her stories are so beautiful and so is her art, and the characters, and the world… all of it is perfect. There’s a great story about environmentalism and doing our part in the world to keep things clean and not take more than we need, which was really sweet and heartfelt. I just loved the whole thing so much and I truly never get tired of Katie O’Neill’s stories. ♥
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