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Extremely Graphic Content

Posted By Jenny On September 22, 2011 @ 9:02 am In Children's Books, Gifts, Culture,Posts by Andy,Rituals,Uncategorized | 22 Comments

It’s hard to know who was more excited when the Amazon box landed with a thunk on our doorstep last week, Phoebe or her parents. We knew from the heft what was inside: All 640 pages of Brian Selznick’s new book, Wonderstruck. We’ve spent many dinners and car rides and bedtimes discussing Brian Selznick. His last book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, for me, was one of those books where you just think, Wow, that’s amazing. I guess I’ll never write a children’s book! I mean that in the nicest possible way: it’s hard to imagine even attempting to create something that transporting and beautiful, let alone succeeding at it. If you gave me a different brain and some artistic talent and a million peaceful years to make it happen, no. But that’s just me. For Phoebe, our resident dreamer and book critic, Brian Selznick is something different: he’s a writer who has taken her beloved graphic novel form and turned into something bigger and better. Phoebe just seems to love the added layer that imagery adds to a story, the way she can keep going back and getting more out of it. This is not to say that she doesn’t like chapter books, but if you asked Phoebe to pick her ten favorite books, a hundred bucks says all ten would be graphic novels. I kind of hope that never changes. Wonderstruck is not a graphic novel, just to be clear. I don’t know what to call it. It’s a chapter book with hundreds of luminous, moody, full-bleed illustrations, which unspool in these amazing ten, twenty, thirty page stretches, like the greatest flip book ever created. As Phoebe says, when asked why she loves it so: “He makes you feel it.”

We thought we’d use this book’s arrival as an excuse to round up our latest favorite graphic novels for 8- to 12-year-olds. And, like always [1], I’m going to turn the mic over to the reader herself. – Andy


Wonderstruck [2] by Brian Selznick: “If you liked The Invention of Hugo Cabret [3], you’ll like this book. I can’t really explain it, because this author makes his books really complicated, but it’s about a deaf boy and a deaf girl. It makes you think about how hard it must be to be deaf. It’s half pictures and half words; the girl’s story is pictures and the boy’s story is words. He puts so much feeling into his stories. And there’s a surprise at the end, which is always good.”

Phoebe rating: 9*

Parent note: Why not a 10? Because Phoebe said it wasn’t quite as good as Hugo Cabret.

Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity [4] by Dave Roman: “This is one of my favorites. I read it like three times on vacation. It’s about a school in space and it’s cool: they have anti-gravity drills and time-bending watches and things like that. Everything that’s impossible on earth is possible there, pretty much. It’s funny and adventure-y. My favorite character is Miyumi San because she has a watch that lets her travel in time and because she acts tough. She’s like a tomboy.”

Phoebe rating: Half 9, half 10*

* Parent note: I assume this means 9.5.

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword [5]* by Barry Deutsch: “Okay, this is a tale of knitting and pig-chasing. Weird, right? It’s the story of an Orthodox Jewish girl named Mirka who has nine brothers and sisters and she’s always wanted to fight dragons and trolls. I know all this sounds really strange, but if you read it, it’ll make sense. This is a good book for people who like adventure. It makes you want to go grab your own sword and start fighting some trolls!”

Phoebe rating: 9

*Parent note: Gets our vote for best tagline on a cover ever: “Yet Another Troll-Fighting 11-Year Old Orthodox Jewish Girl”


The Unsinkable Walker Bean [6] by Aaron Reiner: “This is a mysterious, strange, creepy book about a little boy named Walker Bean whose father is rich and whose grandfather is sick. His grandfather would tell him stories about being at sea, stories from when he was little, and stories about these sisters who look weird — like lobster crab-creatures, in my opinion. The reason his grandfather is sick is because he once looked at a stolen, enchanted skull — if you look at it, you get horribly sick and cursed. Walker’s grandfather tells him to go out to sea to return the skull to its owners, but another ship attacks them and… I’m not telling you what happens next. It’s exciting, and a little sad.”

Phoebe rating: 10

Hera [7] by George O’Connor: “If you’ve seen my other posts about Zeus [1] and Athena [1], you know about George O’Connor. I waited and waited for this book for about a year. It took forever. Anyway, Hera is one of Zeus’s wives and she has a temper, I’ll tell you that. Hera is a very jealous wife. She wanted Zeus to only have her as a wife, but Zeus would still try to marry mortal girls down on Earth. So one day, he married a lady named Alcmene. Together, they had a baby named Hercules. Do you like Hercules? Well, Hera has got a lot to do with him. Hercules’s cousin sends him on twelve labors and Hera tells his cousin what sort of labors she wants Hercules to do. She picks really hard, dangerous things. One is to defeat the hydra, a monster with a lot of heads. There are many others, and they’re all in this book. In the end, Hercules is lifted to Olympus and Hera grows to like him.”

Phoebe rating: 10

D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths [8] by Ingri D’Aulaire: “As you probably noticed, I like Greek myths. This one has every single Greek myth tale in it (pretty much) and the illustrations are really cool, too. My favorite myths are Artemis and Apollo, because they’re twins and they have these cool arrows. Apollo’s arrows were made to cause painful death, like the rays of the sun. Artemis’s arrows were made to be as soft as moonbeams, and brought painless death. That’s how they write in the book. They make you think.”

Phoebe rating: 10

Rapunzel’s Revenge [9] by Shannon, Dean, and Nathan Hale: “This one I like because it shows that girls can be tough, too. Rapunzel is like half-cowgirl, but she’s also got a little princess in her. She’s named after a vegetable: rapunzel, which is a kind of leaf. She meets an outlaw boy named Jack — who’s a bit like the guy from Jack and the Beanstalk — and they team up and do all sorts of crazy adventures. The kind of people who might like this book are the kind who like stories that show what girls are made of.”*

Phoebe rating: 10

*Parent note: There’s some projection going on here, for sure.


Calamity Jack [10] by Shannon, Dean, and Nathan Hale: “This is the sequel to Rapunzel’s Revenge, except it’s mostly about Jack instead of Rapunzel. It’s about a boy who was born to scheme. He stole things, and thought of plans and did all kinds of stuff. Sometimes he would get a little out of hand. It’s also about giants who grind human bones to make flour for their bread. Jack and Rapunzel have to beat the giants and save the town. It’s definitely thrilling, I’ll say that. The end? Well…you have to read that for yourself.”

Phoebe rating: 9

The Yellow M: Blake and Mortimer [11] by Edgar P. Jacobs: “This will definitely remind you of TinTin, except it’s a little bit more fantasy-ish. It’s a complicated story, and you may not get it the first few times you read it. I didn’t. But when you do get it, it’s a real interesting, cool story. Blake and Mortimer are detectives. There’s lots of other books in this series, too. It’s like TinTin because they solve mysteries and use guns and, well, if it was a movie, it’d probably be rated PG. The artwork is pretty good*.”

Phoebe rating: 8

*Parent note: Phoebe’s a tough critic! This art is beautiful, very retro-y and noir, and very — as Phoebe says — TinTin. If it was made into a movie, you’d expect to see a young Orson Welles starring in it.


Ozma of Oz [12] by Erik Shanower and Skottie Young: “This is the third book in the series [13]*. There’s a chicken who’s a girl and her name is Bill. Her name is Bill and she’s a girl! And there’s a robot named Tick Tock, and a little girl named…Dorothy! You know Dorothy. Remember, this is the third book in the Wizard of Oz series. What else? Well, look at that. That artwork is awesome. I’d say, if you like good comic books, you’ll love this. Yeah. The story continues in the next book, but it isn’t out yet!”

Phoebe rating: 10

*Parent note: Such a cool series, such weird, otherwordly artwork. I liked, but did not love the L. Frank Baum books. I love these.

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Enjoy!

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URL to article: http://www.dinneralovestory.com/extremely-graphic-content/

URLs in this post:

[1] like always: http://www.dinneralovestory.com/put-down-the-book-or-no-dessert-tonight/

[2] Wonderstruck: http://www.amazon.com/Wonderstruck-Brian-Selznick/dp/0545027896/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1316359101&sr=1-1

[3] The Invention of Hugo Cabret: http://www.amazon.com/Invention-Hugo-Cabret-Brian-Selznick/dp/0439813786

[4] Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity: http://www.amazon.com/Astronaut-Academy-Gravity-Dave-Roman/dp/1596436204/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1316359130&sr=1-1

[5] Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword: http://www.amazon.com/Hereville-How-Mirka-Got-Sword/dp/0810984229/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1316359158&sr=1-1

[6] The Unsinkable Walker Bean: http://www.amazon.com/Unsinkable-Walker-Bean-Aaron-Renier/dp/1596434538/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1316359191&sr=1-1

[7] Hera: http://www.amazon.com/Hera-Goddess-her-Glory-Olympians/dp/1596434333/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1316359214&sr=1-1

[8] D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths: http://www.amazon.com/DAulaires-Greek-Myths-Ingri-dAulaire/dp/0440406943/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1316359321&sr=1-1

[9] Rapunzel’s Revenge: http://www.amazon.com/Rapunzels-Revenge-Dean-Hale/dp/1599902885/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1316359255&sr=1-1

[10] Calamity Jack: http://www.amazon.com/Calamity-Jack-Dean-Hale/dp/1599903733/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1316359291&sr=1-1

[11] The Yellow M: Blake and Mortimer: http://www.amazon.com/Yellow-Blake-Mortimer-Adventures/dp/190546021X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1316359375&sr=1-1

[12] Ozma of Oz: http://www.amazon.com/Oz-Ozma-Eric-Shanower/dp/0785142479/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1316359440&sr=1-2

[13] series: http://www.amazon.com/Wonderful-Wizard-Oz-Marvel-Classics/dp/0785129219

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