Bulldog Library

The Good Neighbors: Kin

YA F Black    •    Fantasy/Mystery

good neighbors

Rue’s mother left three weeks ago.  No one knows where she is or if she is coming back.  No one knows if she is even still alive.

Rue’s father has been arrested for murder.

Rue is now alone.

Can Rue find her mother?  Can she absolve her father?

The Good Neighbors: Kin is a dark fantasy presented in the form of a beautifully drawn graphic novel.  Holly Black, co-author of the wildly popular Spiderwick Chronicles, has created a rich fantasy world that weaves together the myth and lore of traditional folk tales with a suspenseful and intriguing mystery.  If you are looking for a good mystery, a dark fantasy, or a great graphic novel, than The Good Neighbors is a book you have to try.

Interest Level: grades 8 & up •  Lexile: GN310L  •  AR: 2.7

Black, H. (2009).  The Good Neighbors: Kin. Ted Naifeh (Illustrator).  New York, NY: Graphix.

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Magic Pickle

JF Morse    •    Sci-Fi/Superhero    •    Graphic Novel

Jacket.aspxFifty years ago, in the heart of the Cold War, a mad scientist accidentally irradiated the pickle from his lunch.  To the scientists shock the pickle comes to life.  Seeking to capitalize on his amazing new discovery, the scientist attempts to repeat the happy accident by irradiating more produce.  Sadly, no other produce is as good, just, or morally upright as the pickle.  The other produce soon turn rotten and begin living wicked lives of crime.  Now it is up to the pickle to find and stop the wicked gang of rotten produce.

Magic Pickle is a crazy spoof on the superhero genre that is both action packed and full of outrageous humor.  It is a fun graphic novel that will leave you wanting more.  Thankfully, the author has provided a five more Magic Pickle adventures to delight young readers longing for more heroic pickles and rotten produce!

Interest Level: grades 3-5  • Lexile: GN401L  •  AR: 2.6

ALA Core Collection of Graphic Novels

Morse, S. (2008). Magic Pickle. New York, NY: Graphix.

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream

J 822.33 Sha   •   AR Reading Level: 3.2   •   AR Points: 0.5   •   Quiz #145337


Lysander loves Hermia, and Hermia  loves Lysander.

Helena loves Demetrius.

All would be well except that Demetrius’ love for Helena has faded, and he now loves Hermia.  To escape an arranged marriage to Demetrius, Hermia elopes with Lysander.  They escape Athens and flee to the forrest, but Demetrius and Helena follow them.

In the forest, these Athenian youths cross the path of Oberon, the fairy King, and his faithful jester, Puck. These two fairies try to use magic to fix the tangled course of this love quadrangle, but end up making it worse when they cause Lysander to fall in love with Helena!

Meanwhile, in another part of the forrest . . . just for fun . . . Puck gives Bottom the Weaver the head of a donkey.  Oberon causes his wife, Titania, to fall in love with the donkey headed Bottom.

In the course of this midsummer’s night, love comes and love goes.  Fairies play, and magic abounds.

The lively illustrations in this graphic novel adaptation of Shakespeare’s beloved play wonderfully capture original fantasy and magic of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  While the modernized language used in this adaptation lacks the grace and poetry of the original language, the use of modernized language provides an easily understood version of this classic play that is far more accessible for tween readers than the original play.  In short, this graphic novel provides an excellent introduction to A Midsummer Night’s Dream for tween readers.  However, it is no substitute for the original (which readers are highly encouraged to read someday – or better yet see performed!).

Genre: Fantasy  •  Interest Level: grades 4-8

Yomtov, N. (2012).  A Mid Summer Night’s Dream. (Bernice Muniz, Illustrator). Mankato,  MN: Stone Arch Books.

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Rayearth II, volume 1: Magic Knight

YA F Clamp

Jacket.aspxMagic.  Swords.  Pixies.  Giant fighting robots.  Rayearth is a action filled Manga adventure.

On a trip to Tokyo Tower, the Magic Knights are summoned back to the magical world of Cephiro.  They return to find their beloved Cephiro on the verge of destruction.  After the death of the Pillar of Cephiro, this magical world is collapsing.  To make the situation worse, it is under attack from three neighboring worlds all wanting to seize Cephiro and become its new Pillar.

Will the Magic Knights be able to defend Cephiro from the onslaught of invaders?  Will they find out who summoned them to save the world?

This is the start of the second series of Rayearth.  This is supposed to be a stand-alone series; however, many of the characters are returning from the first series.  Thankfully, the author has provided an introduction at the beginning of the book that provides a synopsis of the important characters and plots for those of us who have not read the first series.

Overall this is a fun Manga with plenty of action, magic, and beautifully intricate drawings.  It is rated for readers ages seven and up; however, certain character’s costumes combined with cartoonish  violence (namely giant robot battles) may make it more appropriate for tweens readers.  While so many Manga’s are intended for teen readers, Rayearth provides an excellent introduction to this popular genre for tweens.

Genre: Manga  •  Interest Level: grades 6 and up

Clamp. (2003). Rayearth II: Magic Knight. (Volume 1). Los Angeles, CA : Tokyopop.

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The Unsinkable Walker Bean

JF Renier    •    AR Reading Level: 2.4    •    AR Points: 1.0    •    Quiz #144238


There is a story that every child is told.  It is a story of the sea witches who live deep beneath the sea.  It is said that they have a wall of skull that can show you anything past, present, or future, but only those with heart and blood as thick as the sea witches can look at it and live.

What would happen if an ordinary human looks not at the whole wall, but just one skull?  Walker Bean’s grandfather has found one of the sea witch’s pearl skulls.  He risked his life and looked at the skull.  He did not die, but he became gravely ill.  Now to save his grandfather’s life, Walker Bean must risk his own life on a perilous journey to return the pearl skull to the sea witches.

Pirates.  Monsters.  Magic.  Explosions.  Adventure.

The Unsinkable Walker Bean has it all!  This is a graphic novel for readers who want a supernatural pirate adventure with plenty of mysteries and unforgettable characters.   It grabs readers right from the start, and in the end, it leaves them longing for more.  More answers.  More adventures.  More Walker Bean!  Genre: Adventure  •  Interest Level: grades 4-8

ALA Core Collection of Graphic Novels & 2011 YALSA Great Graphic Novels

Reinier, A.  (2010).  The Unsinkable Walker Bean.  New York NY: First Second.

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Zita the Spacegirl

JF Hatke    •    AR Reading Level: 2.5    •    AR Points: 1.0    •    Quiz #139128

Jacket.aspxWhen Zita finds a big red button at the bottom of a crater, she naturally does what anyone would do…she pushes the button.  That small decision will change her life forever, because as soon as she presses the big red button, three black tentacles reach through a vortex and grab her friend Joseph.  After a moment of panic, Zita pushes the button again and follows Joseph through the vortex.

When she lands on the other side of the vortex, she finds her self on an alien planet filled with creatures unlike anything on earth.  She is alone in a strange place.  Worse yet, the planet is about to explode.  How will she ever find Joseph on this crazy doomed planet, let alone rescue him from his captors before the world ends?

Zita the Spacegirl is an exciting science-fiction story told in a graphic novel (comic book) format.  The illustrations are drawn in a cartoonish style with soft washes of color that combine to create a unique look for this book.

The story is reminiscent of the L. Frank Baum’s beloved Oz books in that a young girl is ripped away from her home and ends up on quest in a far away land aided by friends she meets along the way.  Like Dorothy, Zita’s longs to return home; however, Zita has the added challenge of rescuing the friend she endangered by pushing the red button.  This book is highly recommended for younger tweens looking for an entertaining sci-fi adventure.

Genre: Science Fiction  •  Interest Level: grades 3-5

2012 ALA Notable Children’s Book

Hatke, B. (2010). Zita the Sapcegirl. New York : First Second

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Rapunzel’s Revenge

YA F Hale    •    AR Reading Level: 3.2    •    AR Points: 1.0    •    Quiz #122757


Rapunzel grew up in her mother Gothel’s villa.  She mostly spent her days playing alone in Gothel’s magic garden, but occasionally, one of Gothel’s guards would teacher her how to do rope tricks.  In Gothel’s garden, there was a wall. Curious about what lay beyond the wall, Rapunzel used her rope to scale the wall against Gothel’s wishes.  On the other side of the wall, Rapunzel discovers a forced labor camp and learns that Gothel is not her real mother.  When she was young, Gothel kidnapped her and imprisoned her mother in the forced labor camp.

Enraged at Rapunzel’s impudence, Gothel locks Rapunzel in an enchanted tree.  It is four years before Rapunzel is able to escape her prison.  Now Rapunzel is on a mission to rescue her real mother.  Her only aids on this quest are her enchanted braids and a thief named Jack she meets on her journey.

Rapunzel’s Revenge is a beautifully drawn graphic novel (comic book) with a very exciting, modern retake on the two traditional fairy tales: Rapunzel and Jack and the Beanstalk.  Told in a fairy tale version of the Wild West, this unique story sets witches, giants, and jackalopes along side cowboys, ranchers, outlaws, and gunslingers.

The illustrations that bring this story to life are skillfully rendered.  These illustrations combine a masterful use of line, interesting perspectives, and lovely color palettes that add immensely to the story.  The compositions in the panels that depict Rapunzel’s battle with the giant sea serpent are especially remarkable in their use of line to create movement and drama.

This graphic novel is highly recommended to readers who enjoy fantasy adventures, and to those who love the visual arts, especially drawing and painting.

Genre: Fantasy  •  Interest Level: grades 6-8

2009 ALA Notable Children’s Book

Hale, S. & Hale, D. (2008). Rapunzel’s Revenge. (N. Hale Illus.). New York, NY: Bloomsbury.

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Babymouse: Queen of the World

JF Holm    •    AR Reading Level: 2.2    •    AR Points: 0.5    •    Quiz #104176


Babymouse’s life is not all that exciting.  Everyday she wakes up, brushes her curly whiskers, and tries to decide what to wear.  She has an annoying little brother, and a stack of homework she does not want to do.  She loves yummy cupcakes and good books.

Babymouse dreams of being Queen of the World, but in Babymouse’s school, Felicia Furrypaws is queen.  Felicia is the most popular girl in Babymouse’s class and she is having a sleepover.  Everyone who is anyone will be at that party!  Babymouse just has to get an invitation, but how?  Does Felicia even know she exists?

Babymouse is a little mouse with a BIG imagination!  Her daydreams take her from the depths of the vast ocean, to the isolation of outer space, and back in time to a Wild West saloon.  Readers too will be transported to a new world where mice and weasels love monster movies and where cats, pigs, and horses give each other makeovers. Babymouse’s larger-than-life personality, humor, and endearing fallibility combine to create a memorable character readers can relate to.

Babymouse: Queen of the World is the first in the Babymouse series.  It is a graphic novel (comic book) that is drawn in a simple, cartoon style.  The black and white illustrations are augmented with ubiquitous highlights of a bright candy pink throughout.  These simple drawings are a perfect complement to the humorous story.

Genre: Humor  •  Interest Level: grades 3-5

2006 ALA Notable Children’s Book

Holm, J. L., & Holm M. (2005). Babymouse: queen of the world. New York, NY: Random House.

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Amulet: The Stonekeeper

YA F Kibuishi    •    AR Reading Level: 2.0    •    AR Points: 1.0    •    Quiz #121996


Emily and Navin’s father died two years ago in a tragic automobile accident.  To get a new start, and to escape the painful memories of her lost husband, their mother has decided to move the family from the city to the country, into the house of her grandfather Silas Charnon.  The house is a little rundown, but working together, the family is determined to clean it, fix it, and make it a home.

While cleaning Emily finds Silas’ library.  It is full of weird animals, strange books, and the puzzles Silas created.  While exploring this room, Emily comes across an amulet.  The adventure begins when she puts the amulet on.  This adventure will lead them to a new world, a parallel earth, and put her entire family’s life in danger!

The Stonekeeper is the first in the Amulet series.  It is told in a graphic novel (comic book) format.  The use of the illustrations is absolutely essential as Kazu Kibuishi relies more on the graphics than the text to tell the story.  These illustrations convey action, magic, and the relay a great deal of information about the unique and occasionally bizarre inhabitants of Alledia.

This is a very good fantasy adventure.  It is highly recommended for all readers who enjoy either graphic novels or fantasy books.  It is also recommended for children who love art as the images are beautifully drawn and painted.

Genre: Fantasy  •  Interest Level: grades 4-8

ALA core collection of graphic novels

Kibuishi, K. (2008).  Amulet: the storekeeper. New York, NY : Graphix.

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Into the Volcano

JF Wood    •    AR Reading Level: 2.2    •    AR Points: 1.0    •    Quiz #127277


Brothers, Sumo and Duffy, are shocked when their father unexpectedly pulls them out of school one day.  He tells them they are to go on a trip to a remote island to visit relatives they have never heard of.  Duffy, always the optimistic one, is happy to go on a tropical adventure.  Sumo, always the pessimist, thinks this is a bad idea and tries to refuse the trip for fear of shark attacks and hostile natives.  If the brothers only knew what dangers really awaited them, even Duffy would have refused to go, but who knew that a trip to a tropical island could turn into a nightmare?!  How could the brothers have guessed that these new relatives would strand them inside of an active volcano?

This is a story told in a graphic novel (comic book) format.  It is an adventure with a compelling and unexpected ending.  The illustrations are used very effectively to convey the mood of the scene, the movement of the waves, and the heat of the lava.

The characters in this book start as one-dimensional and a little dull.  Sumo is especially one-dimensional for the first half of the book.  Sumo is pessimistic and contrary.  He refuses to do anything anyone tells him to, he always expects the worst, and is afraid of everything.  However, through the course of this story, the characters do grow.  By the end of the book Sumo has developed into a much more confident person who has found his strength through the hardships that he faced on this journey.  This growth makes the characters much more interesting in the end than they are in the beginning.

Genre: Adventure  •  Interest Level: grades 3-5

ALA Core collection of graphic novels

Wood, D. (2008). Into the Volcano. New York, NY : Blue Sky Press.

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Amelia Rules! The Whole World’s Crazy

JF Gownley    •    AR Reading Level: 2.5    •    AR Points: 2.0    •    Quiz #125712


Amelia’s parents are divorced.  Two months ago, Amelia moved with her mother out of New York City into her aunt’s home in Pennsylvania.  It’s not too bad.  Amelia has already made a couple of friends, Reggie and Pajamaman, and one archenemy, Rhonda.  The only really bad part is that she misses her father.  She hardly ever gets to see him now.

Amelia is about to start her fourth grade school year at her new elementary school.  According to Reggie, all the teachers are crazy, but he’s got to be exaggerating … right? Wrong.  All the teachers (and even a few of the kids) are absolutely crazy, just as Reggie described them.

Amelia’s world is crazy … and very, very funny! This book has both humor and heart.  Throughout the story, Amelia and her friends go on one crazy adventure after another both as themselves, and as their superhero alter egos.  Each adventure has comical elements that will make you laugh out loud, but the overall story is deeply moving.  Spending time in Amelia’s world, readers will recognize elements of their own.

This story is presented in a graphic novel (comic book) format that is drawn in a style very reminiscent of the Peanuts’ cartoons.  Amelia, Reggie, Pajamaman, Rhonda and all the rest of the characters are highly emotive.  The artist has used the drawing, color, even the shape of the letters and word bubbles in a very effective way that brings the emotions of the characters to life for the reader.

Genre: Comedy  •  Interest Level: grades 3-5

ALA Core collection of graphic novels

Gownley, J. (2009).  Amelia Rules! : the whole world’s crazy. New York, NY : Atheneum.

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To Dance: a ballerina’s graphic novel

JB Siegel    •    AR Reading Level: 3.8    •    AR Points: 0.5    •   Quiz #110718

todance.aspxThis is the story of a girl who loves to dance.  She fills every empty space she can find with dance.  When a doctor diagnoses her with flat feet, her mother suggests that she take a dance class to fix her flat feet.  The little girl loves this idea, and she soon begins to study ballet. As she grows older, her family moves from Puerto Rico to New York so that she can study ballet at the finest school of ballet in America.  Her life revolves around dancing.  She reads about ballet and watches movies about ballet.  She even schedules her school day around her ballet classes.  By the time this girl is in her teens, she is performing on the stage with famous dancers like Mikhail Baryshnikov!  When her parents marriage begins do dissolve, dance becomes her refuge and escape.

This graphic novel tells the true life story of the author, Siena Cherson Siegel.  It is poignant and inspirational.  The beautiful illustrations are graceful and full of movement.  These illustrations are enhanced through the use of a beautiful color pallet that uses soft pastel colors in combination with bright splashes of color to add joy and emotion through out the book.  This book is a must read for young ballerinas, and is also recommended for young girls in general, because it will inspire readers follow their dreams, to delight in their passions, and to achieve success through hard work and dedication.  This book is an absolutely beautiful work of art!

Genre: Autobiography  •  Interest Level: grades 4-8

2007 Sibert Honor Book

Siegel, S. (2006). To Dance: a ballerina’s graphic novel. New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

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