You’ve played Pokémon GO! Now read the manga that started it all!

Viz_Media_Adventures_volume_1Title: Pokémon Adventures: Volume 1

Author: Hidenori Kusaka

Illustrator: Mato

Interest Level: Year 7 +

Red is a young Pokémon trainer who dreams of becoming one of the greatest but he won’t get there without some help. After receiving some good advice and a Pokédex from Professor Oak, he sets of with his Poliwhirl and Bulbasaur and the adventure begins! Join Red in his travels as he meets Pikachu, battles the gym leader Brock, makes new friends and encounters his rival, Blue.

pokemon-adventures-vol-1-pokeball

This is the story that inspired the anime TV show which follows Ash Ketchem’s Pokémon adventures and presents an exciting read – familiar settings and the Pokémon we all love but with a few new faces. Mato’s art style is dynamic, reminding us of the pace at which Red is travelling and the speed of battle. Kusaka’s writing draws you into the world of Pokémon and leaves you with no room to wonder how it became the phenomenon that it is today. A marvellous creation and excellent start to the series, we have Volumes 1 – 7 in the library so check them out now!

Pokémon Adventures: Volume 1

Robots vs Cheerleaders

Nothing-coverTitle: Nothing can possibly go wrong

Author: Prudence Shen Illustrator: Faith Erin Hicks

Genre: High school

Interest level: Year 9+

 

 

It turns out that the money the robotics club wants to pay for their entry into the National competition is the same money as the cheerleaders wanted to use for new uniforms. So, obviously, the president of the robotics club needs to run for student body president to make sure he can use the money where he wants it. The cheerleaders have come up with a very similar idea – making Charlie, the basketball captain, run for president himself.

Nothing could possibly go wrong.

9781596436596-nothingcanpossibly_zoom

This is a story exploring the consequences of bloodthirsty behavior in student body elections, the applied properties of weedkiller to high school football fields, and borderline grand theft auto, and also it’s really funny. Check out how the authors met, some alternate endings, and extra info about the book, and how it was written on the website.

A charming story about friendship, dogs, and robots.

robot dreamsTITLE = Robot Dreams
AUTHOR & ILLUSTRATOR = Sara Varon
GENRE = Friendship
INTEREST LEVEL = Years 7+

This wordless graphic novel tells the story of a dog who builds a robot to be his friend – and then loses him. On their trip to the beach at the end of summer, Robot is rusted and can no longer move, and Dog has to return to the city. Each character then spends the year thinking about friendship and trying to make new friends. Dog meets a duck family, a snowman and a penguin, and anteaters as the seasons pass, but he can’t quite recreate the friendship he had with Robot. Robot spends seasons dreaming about moving and escaping the beach.

Each month gets a chapter, and the novel shows us through the northern hemisphere seasons. The panels that happen in the real world are outlined in a thick black straight line, to contrast with the wavy lines outlining the panels which show dreams, a clever but subtle technique. The drawings are simple at first but each character’s feelings are carefully drawn and easy to read.

This is a charming story, with lovely art to help tell it.

Highly recommended (emc) *****

From a beat poem to a great graphic novel

stormTITLE = STORM

AUTHOR = TIM MINCHIN

ILLUSTRATION & DESIGN = DC TURNER & TRACY KING

GENRE = SCIENCE, RELIGION, BELIEFS  

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 9+

Tim Minchin is well known as a fine musician and actor, a man with a witty turn of phrase and a sharp eye on the world around him. This graphic novel has grown from one of Tim Minchin’s beat poems/songs about the debate between 2 dinner party guests about science and alternative science.

DC Turner and Tracy King have done a magnificent job adapting this song to a graphic novel. A terrific colour palette and inventive design elements complement Minchin’s words and add colour and vim to the unfolding argument. DC Turner’s cartoon style provides a lively characterisation too. It makes for a delightful reading experience.

There is plenty of additional material in this book which simply adds to its appeal: from the forward by Neil Gaiman and the intro by Minchin himself, to the afterwords by DC Turner and Tracy King, the biographies of all 3 and the “covers”  by other comic artists.

Highly Highly Recommended (dma) *****

Graphic novel adaptation will please and excite readers

evil star gnTITLE = EVIL STAR: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL

AUTHOR = ANTHONY HOROWITZ

ADAPTATION = TONY LEE

ART = LEE O’CONNOR

GENRE = FANTASY, HORROR, ACTION, SUPERNATURAL  

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 8+

Tony Lee has provided a great graphic novel adaptation of the novel “Evil Star” by Anthony Horowitz. This is the second book in the “Book of Five” series and the action is moved from England to the Nazca desert in Peru. Once again Matt Freeman is fighting forces he barely understands with powers he struggles to control. Once again the opening of a gate is threatening to unleash the Old Ones onto the world.  Once again he has the support of Richard but when they are separated in a kidnapping attempt, Matt finds a new companion in Pedro, a young lad of his own age, a street urchin from the streets of Lima.

Is Pedro the boy in his dreams; does he have powers too? And most importantly can 2 boys really survive in a fight against the Old Ones especially when the most powerful man in Peru and the Peruvian police are set against them??

For action, adventure, mystery and horror look no further than this graphic novel. Fans of the original will be delighted to read this new version whilst those new to the series will be equally thrilled … and may well want to read the original (link) too!

Tony Lee may be familiar to readers as he has adapted the first book in this series “Ravens Gate” and “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”.

Lee O’Connor also illustrated the graphic novel version  of “Ravens Gate” and he again does a fine job of suiting his illustrations and panel design to the mood and tone of the book. The bold black and white illustrations capture the darkness that underlies this story. O’Connor’s flair with panel layout  also complements the mystery and uncertainty behind the plot: the focus of the eye is constantly shifting for the reader just as Matt’s focus is constantly under threat. O’Connors illustrative style also captures the pace and action of the chase and fight scenes.

All in all, this is a great package and sure to excite both boys and girls.

HR (dma) *****

An award winning, thought-provoking picture book

RULES OF SUMMERTITLE = RULES OF SUMMER

AUTHOR & ILLUSTRATOR = SHAUN TAN

GENRE = FAMILY, BROTHERS, SUMMER, GROWING UP 

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7+   

Rules of Summer is a perfect picture book for creative individuals. Artful, thought provoking and beautifully drawn, Shaun’s book lets the imagination run wild.  Trying to figure out what the rules actually mean is all part of the fun. Some might say it is straight forward, but I think there is more than meets the eye.

The pictures in the book are surreal and yet I think most people can relate to them. Like for me, where I live it is dusty and dry and for as far as you can see there are paddocks of grain and canola, similar to the front cover. This might be the view from someone’s home, or you might have a younger or older brother you like to go on adventures with.

If you have read or plan on reading the Rules of Summer, which I highly recommend you do, take the time to read between the lines or figure out what your own rules of summer may be.

You might then like to look at some of Shaun Tan’s other award winning books, like “The Arrival” (reviewed here).

The Rules of Summer was shortlisted for the 2014 CBCA Picture Book of the Year and then announced as THE WINNER!! CONGRATULATIONS TO SHAUN TAN.

Highly Recommended (Perri) *****

The story behind the formation of the ANZACs

meet the anzacsTITLE = MEET … THE ANZACS 

AUTHOR = CLAIRE SAXBY

ILLUSTRATOR = MAX BERRY

GENRE = WAR, WW1, ANZACS 

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7+    

This picture book provides a non-fiction (rather than a fictional) account of the birth of the ANZACs, from the time the soldiers enlisted right up to (but not including) the action they saw at Gallipoli. In simple (but evocative) text, Claire Saxby tells the story of these soldiers, as they joined up with a sense of adventure, through the heat and dust of training in the desert right up to the anxious hours before they landed. There is good use of variation in text boldness and type: bold text is used for snippets of dialogue which add colour to the simple, straightforward account. The final line is quite powerful, given that most readers will know what lies ahead of the soldiers once they land on Gallipoli’s shores. A useful timeline (for WW1) is provided at the end of the book.

The illustrations are effective and cleverly enhance the text. The endpapers set the scene: a line of soldiers trailing across a barren landscape, all in sepia tones, to add a sense of photographic authenticity to the image. The end-papers, like the rest of the illustrations throughout the book, are canvas paintings: sweeping vistas of the desert; birds eye views and occasional close-ups. So the soldiers remain a group rather than individual characters (appropriate to a work of non-fiction). The restricted palette (blue, khaki, grey and brown) are muted, like the storyline and add a sense of authenticity to the book.

All in all, this is an attractive addition to the many picture books now available about Australia’s involvement in WW1.

Recommended (dma) ****

A French account of WW1 brought to life

line of fireTITLE = LINE OF FIRE: Diary of an unknown soldier

ILLUSTRATOR = BARROUX

GENRE = WAR, WW1 

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 9

This is a wonderfully moving graphic novel based on a diary from a French soldier during WW1. The diary was real so the account is factually based; Barroux (the illustrator) has simply added illustrations to complement the diary entries. These entries capture the boredom involved in the early days for soldiers who had enlisted with a great sense of adventure, only to find they spent long hours and days and weeks training and marching. It is clear that getting to the front line took a long, long time … then the terror of the artillery fire and of the retreat is vividly portrayed.

Sepia illustrations are a perfect fit as they recall old photographs and so enhance the idea that they are part of the old diary, although the illustrations themselves are not necessarily realistic in style.  Simple yet evocative, they establish the mood and feel of the diary’s text and make the soldier a very real character whilst bringing his words to life.  

You may like to check out the website which accompanies this book: www.lineoffirebook.com

It is always interesting to read about war from the perspective of other participants so this book is a must read for anyone wanting to know more about WW1.

Recommended (dma) ****

The horror of war, the hope of children

the kites are flyingTITLE = THE KITES ARE FLYING

AUTHOR = MICHAEL MORPURGO

ILLUSTRATOR = LAURA CARLIN

GENRE = WAR, GROWING UP, MIDDLE EAST CONLICT 

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7+    

 Is this a picture book or an illustrated text?? Hard to say because both the pics and the text help tell this story; a timely story about the reality of life for youngsters growing up near the West Bank of Jerusalem, an area which seems to be perpetually in conflict.

The story is told in alternating voices: a UK journo and an Arab boy who hasn’t spoken since his beloved older brother was killed in the fighting. Gradually the journo (and the reader) is able to piece together the events behind this traumatic event, the great loss the boy has suffered. Amazingly, despite his refusal to speak and despite his great grief, the boy’s response is not one of anger but rather one of hope. He is intent on sending kites across the wall to children on the other side (supposed opponents) as a message of peace, goodwill and unity. Written by Michael Morpugo this is a brilliant, moving and credible story that will captivate (and sadden) even those readers who have little knowledge or understanding of the conflict (which continues to this day).

 The illustrations are colourful and engaging and varied in style: some act as a border to the page of text, others are small and simply accompany broad strips of text. Others are full page or double spreads. There is a sense of joyousness and simplicity to the illustrations which certainly complements the story line. The end-papers match the cover: miles of wall as a barrier to the small figure …but never a barrier to a kite!! And it is worth taking the time to read the afterword.

 Highly Recommended (dma)****

THE PERFECT CRIME .. OR IS IT?

the tell-tale heartTITLE = THE TELL-TALE HEART

ORIGINAL STORY = EDGAR ALLAN POE

RETOLD BY BENJAMIN HARPER

ILLUSTRATIONS BY DENNIS CALERO

GENRE = HORROR, CLASSIC, CRIME  

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 8+

Another of Poe’s classic horror stories has been brilliantly reimagined in this graphic novel version. Benjamin Harper moves the story along quickly, keeping the mood true to Poe’s original tale and driving along the increasing horror. As the story is largely narrated by a single character, short boxes of narrative text drive the story along, mixed effectively with larger fonts which describe sound effects. Dialogue and illustrations help tell the story about a man who thinks he has committed the perfect crime.

Dennis Calero makes clever use of a restricted colour palette. The story opens with dark, sepia tones which match the mood of the strange character who is narrating the story. Once he begins to tell us of his murderous hatred a bright blue creeps into the illustrations: first with the old-man’s eye (the object of the narrator’s hatred) then with the murderer’s actions. Even the text boxes which deal with his criminal ways are tinged with blue … as is the text which describes the beating of the tell-tale heart. This clever use of bright blue extends to the end-papers whilst the cover effectively sets up the mood and the visual style which follows within the pages of the book.

As with other books in this collection (The Fall of the House of Usher and The Murders in the Rue Morgue) readers familiar with Poe’s tale may lament the loss of his wonderful words but they are sure to enjoy this atmospheric version of the story. Newcomers to Poe will also be captivated. A glossary and brief notes at the back of the book may be useful to students and teachers alike.

Recommended (dma) ****