Good morning, and welcome to another edition of Stuff We’re Reading But Not Reviewing Just Yet. This was a big week for our bloggers, so let’s jump right in—and don’t forget to tell us what you’re reading in the comments section.
Robin Brenner: First off I finally got my hands on the WWII graphic novel from Macmillan/First Second, Resistance by Carla Jablonski with Leland Purvis illustrating. (I kept staring at the art and wondering why it was familiar, and then I realized Purvis illustrated the grand GN biography of Neils Bohr, Suspended in Language, by Jim Ottaviani. Thanks, brain!) This one follows the trend of historical titles I was reading last week, and to be honest, I’ve been wanting to read this since I saw the cover (talk about a strong design!) I enjoyed this one a lot—and the afterword about the many faces of what we think of as The Resistance in France (The Maquis, etc.) really illuminated this volume even further. I’m intrigued that it’s just the first volume—a complete story is told, but there’s a lot more that could come, and I look forward to seeing more.
I also got two new Kids Can Press titles, the second Binky the Space Cat title, Binky to the Rescue, and the grand new adventure tale Tower of Treasure. Binky, of course, continues to be wonderful: those ears! The aliens! The friendship! It’s all affecting and adorable. Tower of Treasure was the one that was a happy surprise. Scott Chantler did excellent work a few years ago on Northwest Passage, a book I thoroughly enjoyed, and I was so happy to see more work from him. On top of that, this one is almost tailor-made for me! Thieves and con men and a heist? Check. A fantasy landscape? Check. A smart, witty, teenage female lead? Check. A promise of further adventures and strong character development? Fantastic! This one is one I want the next volume of NOW, and it’s a wonderful read-alike for Rapunzel’s Revenge.
Esther Keller: I guess this was more than usual GN reading week, because I also read a few more titles. I actually think I read more than I’m going to post about, but I just can’t remember what they are! (Early senility!) My books were due in the library, so I read volume 2 of Dogby Walks Alone: Dogby Walks Tall by Wes Abbot. I wasn’t enamored with the last one, but it was on my desk, so I figured why not? And volume 2 continues to be more of that surreal fun house mirror sort of effect. Dogby lands up in Alaska in some odd town where there are people in iron masks trying to take the town over for their own nefarious reasons. No one seems to be blink about these odd looking people, including Dogby, the stranger in town who walks around in a dog suit. Therein lies the oddity in this title.
My next read was Crogan’s March by Chris Schweizer which is the second volume in the Crogan’s Adventures series. I didn’t enjoy this story as much as I enjoyed the first, but actually felt the parallel between the boys’ predicament/squabble and their father’s delving into the family’s history was stronger than it was in the first volume. I found that I was looking at the artwork much more than I usually do. (I’m far more textual based than I am art based.) I was admiring the way Schweizer really does move the text along with the art. I read plenty of comics where I can just quickly skim through the art and not miss much of the story, but here, I felt like I had to go back and “read” the panels to glean more of the story. It was exciting! And I am looking forward to the next adventure.
On Thursday, I had to go pick up something from work and was kept waiting at a colleague’s desk, because not everything was ready. Having filled out the necessary paperwork, I waited bored and patiently, until I noticed Lunch Lady and the League of Librarians displayed on the bookshelf on top of the desk. Well, it’s a quick read as it is, but I was kept waiting long enough to read through the title. I hadn’t yet read any of the others in the series and all I could think was… what a hoot! I’m particularly fond of any stories that show librarians as someone who plots world domination. After all, we are quite a subversive bunch. But it’s actually the little touches I loved—the spork walkie talkie and the deep freezer that’s an elevator. And Lunch Lady improved the read-a-thon! I think I need to add this title to my own personal collection… You know librarians are actually trying to rule the world.
My last read (or at least the last read I remember) was a title I’m reviewing for another professional journal. Dungeon: Twilight, v. 3: The New Centurions. I don’t want to say too much, because I have to write a comprehensive review
on this title, but suffice it to say, that I’ve never picked up another one of the Dungeon titles, even though I have quite a few on my shelf. I really felt lost without reading the previous volumes, so this title doesn’t quite stand on its own. I found the characters odd, and the story odder (not quite as odd as Dogby Walks Alone) but I wasn’t sure if that was because I just wasn’t familiar with the world or if the stories really are that strange!
Kate Dacey: While I was at ALA, I picked up several of Image Comics’ “Encore Editions,” including the first issue of G-Man: Cape Crisis. There’s a lot to like about G-Man: the character designs are bold and the dialogue has a good snap. I was disappointed to see that the super-powered female characters were relegated to minor comic relief roles, swooning over G-Man, squabbling with the male heroes, and running a dandelion stand to raise money for a charitable cause. (The stand’s improbable success is a recurring gag.) Given how conscientious the creators were about creating a diverse cast, I was surprised to see the female characters on the sidelines. I haven’t read the rest of the series yet (it’s five issues in total), so my comment may only apply to the first installment. That said, it’s nice to see a superhero comic that’s genuinely kid-friendly; I’d peg this as a good choice for readers in the eight-to-eleven category.
Mike Pawuk: I’ve been reading Boom! Studios line of Disney comics, including Donald Duck & Friends: Double Duck, Vol. 1; Wizards of Mickey: Mouse Magic, Vol. 1; and Hero Squad: Ultraheroes—Save the World, Vol. 1. All of them I’ve greatly enjoyed and they continue to tell the Disney comics stories that were missing for readers after Gemstone lost the Disney license. I’m not 100% sure, but I believe the tales are translations of Disney comic book tales from Italy, but regardless, the stories are pure fun and great for younger readers as well as any Disney fan no matter what age. I especially loved Double Duck, which features Donald as a secret spy (he was a secret agent for only 3 days but lost his memory of it) who needs to be retrained. Definitely great titles for libraries to get.
I’m also reading Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom. I’ve been reading this to my 4-year-old son a few chapters a day and he can’t wait to see what comes next. Eric Wight has done a great job with a hybrid graphic novel and prose format, and the story is engaging, humorous, and the illustrations are fantastic. In the end my son asked me if he had a closet of doom, too and I said “Yes.”
Lastly, I’ve been also reading some more older teen/adult zombie books from Boom! Studios, including Death Valley, which was an entertaining, but ultimately forgettable zombie tale involving high school students who survive a zombie apocalypse and are trying to find any other survivors. Some of the plot felt too contrived and in the age of titles like Robert Kirkham’s The Walking Dead, by Image Comics, this felt like an afterschool zombie special.
Lori Henderson: I started the week with Black Butler, vol. 2, which I enjoyed just as much as the first. Sebastian shows his true colors as a cat lover with a light-hearted chapter before getting into a darker story line of Sebastian and Ciel going after Jack the Ripper. This older teen title is a lot of fun to read.
In contrast, Fairy Navigator Runa is rated for Teens, but I would drop it down to tweens ages 10 and up. Runa makes a good protagonist and her two fairy helpers Sunrei and Mokke can go from real to chibi at will. Boys and girls can enjoy this title, as it has both action and relationships.
After the announcement of Yen Plus going online, I registered and read the first two chapters of the new series, Daniel X, based on a James Patterson series. I enjoyed what was available so far. The two chapters introduce Daniel, how he got where he is, some of what he can do, and sends him on his next mission. The art is really nice too. I think we’re seeing another hit for teens in the making.
Brigid Alverson: I picked up Chi’s Sweet Home after putting it off for quite a while because I’m really not a cat fancier. I was instantly won over! Chi is so cute! She reminds me of a baby, the way she noshes on milk and then immediately falls asleep slumped across whatever is nearby. I know some people found her speech mannerisms a bit annoying, but I stopped noticing after a while. What I did enjoy was the gentle interaction between her and the family that took her in. This is a cute cat manga, but it’s a cute cat manga done well, with a bit of depth and a super- cute cat. I’m converted.
I stopped reading Library Wars: Love and War a few weeks ago so I picked it up determined to finish it. I’m liking it better on the second reading, although I still sometimes find it hard to figure out what’s going on— in one scene toward the beginning, the action is completely hidden by speech bubbles, which are narrating the action and obscuring it at the same time. The manga-ka seems to have dropped that technique after a while, thankfully. However, if I never read another manga in which a girl takes up a difficult career, leaves her family, and goes to a special school for high achievers because of a brief encounter she had with a boy as a child, that would be just fine with me.
OK, that’s what we have been reading—what’s on your night table this week?