Graphic Novels for Confident Readers

by Dianne White on June 28, 2012

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GIANTS BEWARE! by Rafael Rosado and Jorge Aguirre (First Second, 2012)

Tales of a baby-feet eating giant, chased back to the tallest mountain in the territory, have kept the local citizens of Mont Petit Pierre living in fear. But one young citizen, Claudette, is different. Fearless and determined, Claudette is the only one of the village with a desire to slay the enemy giant. Even with the blessing of her Poppa, a once-upon-a-time warrior, Claudette knows she won’t be successful on her own. She’ll need the support of her little brother, Gaston, a budding pastry chef, and her best friend, Marie, an aspiring princess.

With map in hand, the three young souls take off for the Forest of Death, in search of the infamous giant. Unpredictable child-snatching trees, an old hag, and raging waters meet the children along the way. Will they return to Mont Petit Pierre victorious?  With bright colorful images and characters that readers will become quite fond of, GIANTS BEWARE is an excellent book for kids seven and up.

ASTRONAUT ACADEMY: Zero Gravity by Dave Roman (First Second, 2011)

First, a caveat. I haven’t read many comics or graphic novels¬† and I’m not familiar enough with the differences between anime, mecha, manga, and other comic styles to do this book justice. What I did pick up, uninitiated though I am, were the parodies on these different comic styles (including imitating their style of English translation), and I can appreciate Dave Roman’s genius enough to know that ASTRONAUT ACADEMY will have a following of fans among young readers who will anxiously await the second book, Astronaut Academy: Reentry.

The story begins as Hakata Soy, a former space hero, arrives for his first semester at Astronaut Academy. He’s the new kid with a mysterious past, and he’s hoping for a fresh start. But the Academy is full of other students with interesting histories, and each of these make appearances in their own mini-chapters, all of which weave in-and-out, sometimes more obviously related to the larger story arc, sometimes as dangling threads that reappear later.

Initially, the bouncing from one character and chapter to another made it difficult to follow, but, as I read on, the connections became more clear, and I became quite fascinated, flipping back and forth to check one character or another’s earlier chapter to make sure I had his or her story straight.

There’s a certain kind of kid reader who will be mesmerized by this book – it’s the kind you read and reread, catching something new, hidden, or clever that you missed the first time around.

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