Although comic books have been a long-time favorite of children and adults, graphic novels extend the comic book style into a longer, more involved story, told through limited words, graphic panels, and lots of action. Graphic novels often focus on superheroes or anime (Japanese animation), but many authors are breaking this mold and creating graphic books that feature ordinary characters in exaggerated situations facing everyday issues.
“Lunch Lady and the Video Game Villian”. By Jarrett J. Kroshocaka, 2013, Alfred A. Knopf, 96 pages, ages 7-10.
Lunch Lady not only whips up a mean batch of mashed potatoes, she also solves mysteries around the school in her apron and serving gloves. This fast-paced graphic novel utilizes short text and lots of action to demonstrate Lunch Lady’s zeal for justice. The author, Jarrett Kroshocaka created the Lunch Lady series based a lunch lady who was still working in the lunch room at his elementary school, when he returned to visit as an adult.
“Tommysaurus Rex” by Doug Tennapel, 2013, Graphix, 144 pages, ages 8 and up.
After Ely’s best friend, his dog Tommy, is hit by a car, a trip to his grandfather’s farm for the summer seems like a respite. But a mysterious cave, a friendly dinosaur, and a kid bully turn Ely’s summer into an adventure he will never forget. Bright color graphics and exaggerated text give this book a sense of energy, action, and humor.
“Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel” by Jeff Kinney, 2012, Amulet Books, 217 pages, ages 8 and up.
The “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series began as a daily website entry, which evolved into what has become a collection of nine hilarious books and a movie. In this version, Greg’s comical antics will gain the laughter and sympathy of readers as he encounters his first middle school dance. Author Jeff Kinney, also a game designer, producer, and cartoonist was named one of the 100 most influential people in 2009 by “Time” magazine. His website http://www.poptropica.com/ is a favorite video game site for children.
“The Red Pyramid” by Rick Riordan, Adapted by Orpheus Collar, 2012, Hyperion Books, 192 pages, ages 10 and up.
The first book of best-selling novel series “The Kane Chronicles” is adapted into graphic form in this version of “The Red Pyramid”. Two adventurous children, Sadie and Carter set off in search of their missing archeologist father, Dr. Julius Kane. Along the way, the children face danger, magic, and evil in a quest that weaves between present time and ancient Egypt. Detailed color graphics help the reader distinguish the old kingdoms and reveal the emotion and motive of characters. Readers may recognize the author’s other works including “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series.
Because much of the story is told through graphics, a graphic novel can be read quickly, but don’t be fooled. The limited text and small illustrations leave many gaps in the story that must be filled in by the reader’s own inferences and imaginations, thus promoting deep thinking.
Reviewed by Elizabeth Dobler