It started as a a funny, little notion scrawled of a piece of scrap paper. "Mice have a culture all their own; Too small to integrate with other animals." Over the past decade, David Petersen's throwaway thought has emerged into a beautifully vivid adventure series that combines breathtaking action with gorgeous artwork. That series starts with Mouse Guard: Fall 1152.
The Mouse Guard are essentially wandering knights who serve a widespread kingdom. Mice have many natural predators and the guard has been established to protect citizens and keep the peace. But the kingdom is not simply threatened by snakes and owls. There are also enemies within.
Frank Gallows has some explaining to do. The burned-out ghost wrangler has just sent an innocent child into the world of the dead. The kid's name is Garth Hale. In the regular world, he's just your average boy...who also happens to have a terminal illness. But Garth discovers that he has some quite extraordinary powers in Ghostopolis.
No living souls have ever made it back to the regular world, so Mr. Gallows is losing his job for this big-time screw up. The fact that Garth didn't have much time to live in the first place makes the situation even worse. Gallows has to hang up hunting those ghosts who wish to remain in the land of the living. He'll never have the pleasure of capturing repeater offender Benedict Arnold. No, Gallows has to right this wrong. Luckily, his ex-fiancée Claire Voyant has a machine that can take you back and forth between the worlds. Frank is going to have to play nice.
Friends With Boys is a teenage slice-of-life story. Maggie is dealing with the first day of school. Not just the first day of the year, nor is it simply her first day of high school. This is Maggie's first day of school...ever.
Once homeschooled, the freshman girl's mother (and teacher) has left home. Luckily, Maggie has three already initiated older brothers to show her the ropes around Sandford High. But Maggie's going to have to get used to the crowds, the schedule, and the fact that her siblings can't always be looking out for her.
These days it’s not uncommon for history to be brought vividly to life in a novelized comic book format called graphic novels. Recently Sid Jacobson, the author of one such title with teen appeal, spoke as part of the Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series at the University of Mary Washington.
His book, “Anne Frank: The Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Biography,” co-written with Ernie Colon, provides insight into Anne’s life before and after her famous diary. When Hitler came to power, her father moved his family from Germany to the Netherlands hoping for safety. After the Nazi’s invade and begin restricting Jewish activity, Anne and Margot wonder how they will stay cool with the local swimming pool now forbidden. At the same time, their father desperately attempts to get his family out of the country and when that fails, finds a hiding place in the now famous secret annex. The most difficult and compelling parts of this tale occur after their betrayal. We follow the family to the concentration camp, where they are first separated by gender and then the mother from her daughters. Thanks to information from camp survivors, we learn that Margot perished first, shortly followed by Anne. Fans of Anne Frank’s diary will enjoy these new details in this heroic young woman’s life.
Zita the Spacegirl gets down to business right away. It starts with two friends, a mysterious crater, and a device that opens a portal to another dimension.
Meek Joseph is immediately captured by a tentacled being with a deep sea diver's helmet. Adventurous Zita, in a daring effort to save her friend, follows the creature through the portal. A strange alien planet exists on the other side, and Zita finds that she is not welcomed with open arms.
Emily and Navin have just moved into their grandfather's abandoned house with their mother. Their grandfather has been missing for decades, so Emily doesn't think twice about picking up the necklace she finds in his library. What she has awakened though, is a gateway to a bizarre and magical world. Suddenly her mother is swallowed whole by a hideous tentacled creature and it's up to Emily and Navin to get her back. So begins the first book in the Amulet series, The Stonekeeper.
It turns out that the necklace is a powerful amulet that can control and protect any surrounding life force. Emily's grandfather's last wish was for her to take up the stone and help save this strange world, known as Alledia, from an evil elf king. Emily also receives several robots that her grandfather single-handedly constructed to help her with this mission. The first robot we meet is the pink rabbit, Miskit, who wields a stun gun while piloting a giant mechanical exoskeleton.
The following is an email conversation between two CRRL library staff members, Craig and Mercy, about Audrey Niffenegger's graphic novel for adults, The Night Bookmobile. The Night Bookmobile "tells the story of a wistful woman who one night encounters a mysterious disappearing library on wheels that contains every book she has ever read. Seeing her history and most intimate self in this library, she embarks on a search for the bookmobile. But her search turns into an obsession, as she longs to be reunited with her own collection and memories." (Book summary)
From: Mercedes Sais
Sent: Thursday, March 10, 2011 5:58 PM
To: Craig Graziano
Would you peruse The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger and tell me what you think? I am not a connoisseur of graphic novels, but this one disturbed me in its view of the reading life.
From: Craig Graziano
Sent: Thursday, March 10, 2011 6:01 PM
To: Mercedes Sais
Subject: RE: Perusal
Sure Mercy, I put it on hold and will tell you what I think of it.
From: Mercedes Sais
Sent: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 1:56 PM
To: Craig Graziano
Subject: RE: Perusal
Craig, let's do a duet blog with our email responses to The Night Bookmobile. What do you think?
The book says "dark" from the beginning with the title. Even the colors chosen are not primary colors often chosen for children's books so you know it's an adult novel. Plus no regular bookmobile comes late at night. Alexandra is a creature of the night.
Remember comic books? They’re still popular, but so are graphic novels; stories told using the comic form, but published as books. They can be an original tale or a retelling of traditional fiction. “The Swiss Family Robinson,” for example, was recently published as a graphic novel. Well loved by all ages, these books are great for reluctant readers. The combination of minimal text and many pictures grabs their attention and makes reading more accessible. Try some of these with your elementary school students.
Whether you call them graphic novels or comic books, adventure stories told with a lot of pictures are a fun way to laze away a hot summer afternoon. You can journey on the high seas with Greek heroes, go on the hunt for Bigfoot, outwit forty thieves, or find your own way in a Twisted Journey with these colorful tales. The CRRL has many from which to choose, but this sampling is a good place to begin:
Free Comic Book Day is a single day - the first Saturday in May - when participating comic book shops across North America and around the world give away comic books absolutely free to anyone who comes into their stores. Several Fredericksburg-area stores generously donate comic books to the Central Rappahannock Regional Library so that we can give them away at the library, too.