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Review: Stinky Cecil in Operation Pond Rescue

Though it certainly exists, finding a comic that connects to the sciences and contains a funny and engaging story for elementary age students isn’t all that easy. But AMP Kids’ latest original graphic novel will certainly have multiple links to the science curriculum and continue to entertain readers all the way through.

Stinky Cecil in Operation Pond Rescue
By Paige Braddock
AMP Kids, 128 pp.
February 2015. ISBN 978-1-4494-57112 pbk $9.99
Recommended grades 3 and up

The minute I finished reading this graphic novel, I knew I had a winning title in my hand. I don’t often feel so enthusiastic about a title, but this time I did, so much so that I called over my five-year-old son (who has not yet learned to read) and offered to read it aloud to him. Now, aside from the occasional TOON Book, which is geared for emerging readers, I don’t usually read comics aloud. But we read this in one sitting, and my son hasn’t stopped asking for the next volume. (He didn’t quite get the whole “This was an advanced reading copy and this isn’t even out yet” thing.)

Stinky Cecil is a toad. He lives in a pond with a bunch of other pond creatures. They have a wonderful little life, but during a visit with his hamster friend Jeff, Cecil is snatched by a hawk. Before his escape, he sees that there is a highway being built and the highway is destined straight for his pond. So he gathers his friends and together they attempt to save their home the pond. In a surprising twist, the pond is rescued, and the pond creatures live happily ever after. Or do they? The last panel says otherwise and promises a volume 2.

The artwork is adorable. Clear crisp lines and uncomplicated panels just tell a good story. The story is so much fun and so entertaining that young readers might not realize how much they’re learning about the ecosystem and how dependent living things are on each other. But this is a perfect introduction for a science teacher. The backmatter includes interesting tidbits about toads (like how they let off a terrible stink when they’re afraid, a prominent feature in this book) and earthworms.

This is a perfect read for an elementary age reader, but it can be used with slightly older students to make science connections. It’s a worthy title to add to a collection or reading list.

This review is based on a complimentary advanced reading copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © AMP Comics for Kids

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Esther Keller About Esther Keller

Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. Her collection is also the model for all middle school libraries in NYC. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library, and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 3 and regularly reviews for SLJ, LMC. In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.

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