Tag Archives: salt water taffy

Graphic Novels Again

They really need to do their math there, but I don’t want to interrupt the nearly half hour stretch of quiet they’ve had together!

We were inundated by graphic novels for Christmas gifts and the boys have been making their way through them, along with the other books they got.

 The Flying Beaver Brothers And The Evil Penguin Plan Salt Water Taffy: Caldera's Revenge! Bone: V. 1: Out Of Boneville

Both the boys quickly read Squish: Brave New Pond by Jennifer Holm, which they enjoyed.  I don’t quite “get” these books, but the boys find the story of Squish, a small amoeba, and his school friends, to be funny.  They’re a little bit on the gross out side of humor, so just a parental warning for you there.

I got Mushroom the very easy to read book The Flying Beaver Brothers and the Evil Penguin Plan by Maxwell Eaton.  There’s a sequel as well.  It was really funny, with a lot of what passes as dry humor for the elementary school set, which is exactly Mushroom’s kind of jokes.

BalletBoy got the next entries in the Salt Water Taffy series by Matthew Loux, Caldera’s Revenge.  This is a set of graphic novels about two boys on summer vacation in Maine.  I admit that I didn’t like these much at first, but I guess there’s something funny about grizzled old seamen?  The dialogue is a bit amusing, I suppose.

Finally, both Mushroom and BalletBoy have embarked on reading the great graphic novel series Bone by Jeff Smith and have already gone through the first two volumes and are asking for the third.  This series is silly at times, with slapsticky gags and jokey dialogue.  It follows some bones who leave their home for the wide world.  The rest of the characters are human.  However, it also quickly begins to tell an epic tale full of dragons and quests.  This is an older series (I read the first bit of it years before I had kids) but Scholastic got hold of it several years ago making it clearly a series for children.  It is, by far, the title on this list that I recommend the highest.  The rest are just for fun, but this one is graphic novel art.


Graphic Novels Roundup Again

A quick graphic novel round up for you.  We continue to dig through the library offerings.

First up, I read the book The Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan.  This graphic novel is aimed at older middle grade readers.  It was unique, to say the least.  It takes place in Dust Bowl era Kansas, about a young boy whose mother is ill and who is beset by bullies.  The style is sketchy and brown toned, to show how dusty and dry everything is.  The art has an ethereal feel to it, which suits the tone of the story.  This is one of those children’s literature selections that I enjoy, but wonder who the intended audience really is because it does seem so unique.  Regardless, the book weaves together complicated themes and has an ending that is open to different interpretations.  It was very different, but I liked it.

Next is a series BalletBoy read.  Salt Water Taffy by Matthew Loux is a chapter book level graphic novel series about two boys on their summer vacation in Maine.  They meet a friendly caricature of an old fisherman who guides them on some bizarre adventures.  In the first volume, they meet a giant lobster monster called “Old Salty.”  The art in the series is bold and straightforward.  I pulled it off the shelf as a possibility for BalletBoy, but I have to say I don’t think much of the books.  They’re more of a conglomeration of random nonsense than a solid story.  But BalletBoy gives them two thumbs up.  Thanks to a timely library trip, he read all four in less than a week.

Next, Mushroom read the book Monkey vs. Robot by James Kolchalka.  I wasn’t much of a fan of Kolchalka’s weird Johnny Boo series for young readers.  This almost wordless graphic novel is intended for older readers, but Mushroom seemed to think the whole thing was hilarious, even without being able to read what little text there was.  Kolchalka’s style is purposefully rough and this story is absurd, but amusing.  Essentially, some monkeys and a robot fight it out in a jungle.  That’s pretty much it.  It’s certainly not a deep selection, but I found it fun as well.

I also read the book Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke.  It tells the story of a girl who gets sucked through some sort of portal onto an alien planet and much find her courage and go on adventures to save her friend.  The art is colorful and fun, filled with funny little creatures of all sorts.  I highly recommend this one.  Zita is a great character, spunky and brave, but the author does a good job of showing how she can be vulnerable too.  The length and reading some of the minor characters’ dialects make it not quite a chapter book level read, so I would say it’s for early middle grades readers.

Finally, the kids have discovered the Ponyo graphic novel adaptation, which comes in four volumes.  In case you’re not familiar with it, Ponyo is an animated film by Hayao Miyazaki.  It’s a beautiful story about a boy who befriends a magical sea girl creature.  Not only is the story great, but the artistic style of the animation is similarly beautiful.  The graphic novel series is made in Japan and therefore is read like other Japanese manga, which is to say, backwards.  The kids have only read the first one, but it did take some getting used to.  Still, I kept thinking it was surely a needed skill for geeky kids to have.  The graphic novel is pretty much exactly the same as the film.  The amazing art comes off just as well on the static page, however, and the story holds up in any form.  Miyazaki’s other films, including Kiki’s Delivery Service, My Neighbor Totoro, and Howl’s Moving Castle, have also been turned into four volume graphic novel sets.