MS. MARVEL: A Superhero for Today’s Teens–and Adults!

August 10, 2015

Ms.-MarvelMs. Marvel:  Volume I:  No Normal by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Adrian Alphona

It’s about time for a new Marvel Superhero, and a young woman is even more fitting.  Meet contemporary teen, Kamala Khan:  “an ordinary girl from Jersey City.”  Ms. Marvel returns as a 16-year-old Muslim girl.  The character, her super-powers, the stories, and the awesome graphics are all Marvel innovation at its height. Our hero, Kamala Khan is your typical 16-year old geeky girl who lives in a working class Muslim family.  Her family’s lifestyle holds her back from hanging out with the cool kids, going to parties:  in short, fitting in on her terms. But one night, while sneaking out to a party against her families wishes, Kamala gains shape shifting abilities in a dark mist. Now scared and amazed by having super powers, Kamala takes up her icon Carol Danvers’ (a previous Ms. Marvel incarnation) old alias and costume, Ms. Marvel, to help out the community.  I love how  Kamala is trying to work out her new powers and the pressures of school and family life at the same time. Volume I:  No Normal is a collection of the the New Ms. Marvel 1-5.  I’ve read Volumes I and II, and I’m hooked–and so are several of my adult friends, as well as teen informants. 

Stay tuned for more adventures!

More Graphic Novels for Tweens

August 3, 2015

Yes, Molly and Jacob are officially tweens, at least according to their reading tastes.  They love chapter books and picture books, still love readalouds, appreciate good joke books. . .but most of all they love graphic novels. Two of their favorites this summer have been on our lists:  Bad Island for Jacob and Cleopatra in Space and Zita the Space Girl for Molly. (You might want to check out our earlier blog list on Graphic Novels for Tweens for more recommendations.)  Here are a few more sure hits, with more to come as we enter this new passion with friends and family.

CardboardCardboard by Doug TenNapel

If the kids in your life loved Bad Island, you can’t go wrong recommending Cardboard.  In this ingenious tale,  cardboard can magically come to life.  Originally, it is a cardboard box, given as a birthday gift, impoverished father to son.  As you an imagine, Cam at first thinks it is the worst birthday present ever.  But when Cam and his dad shape the cardboard into a man, it come to life!  Enter Marcus, neighborhood bully and all around bad guy who with evil intent warps the cardboard to his own destructive plans. Creepy and interesting details and a clever adventure highlight this book, not to mention TenNapel’s offbeat humor and drawings.


Roller-girlRollergirl by Victoria Jamieson

What happens when best friends for life Nicole and Astrid decide on two different paths for the summer?  Astrid falls in love with roller derby, and signs up for derby camp.  But Nicole has her own passion: dance.  Lost friendship, new attachments, and making your way with the newness and turmoil of middle school.  A Portland debut for Jamieson,, we can’t help but be impressed with her ability to turn her own passion for roller derby (a rollergirl herself!) into this terrific graphic novel.  Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier.  Speaking of which. . .


dramaDrama by Raina Telgemeier

While Drama deals with very middle school themes (a young girl being attracted to two boys, working as a set designer for a stage crew when she would rather act. . .), but the drama of this graphic novel–on and offstage–makes it appealing to the younger tweens as well.  It is definitely more teen-oriented than Smile, but Callie, the main character,  is irresistible and funny, and I appreciate that the book emphasizes how important it is to be who you are. I also like the introduction of sexual orientation in a thoughtful and wise manner.  Another Telgemeier winner!



July 24, 2015

InterstellarInterstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Meg Hunt

As readers of Litforkids know, we are enamored of Cinderella in all her retellings updates, and original glory. (See: Book Flight on CinderellaCinderella Around the World ;   and  Cinderella Revisted. ) So our interest is naturally piqued when we see titles like Interstellar Cinderella.

We can’t help but think that Underwood has read Cinder, the YA novel by Marissa Meyer.  Like Cinder, our Cinderella hero in this early reader version is a “stellar” repair mechanic for rocket ships and space vehicles.  Rather than an android sidekick, our younger heroine has a robotic mouse named Murgatroyd who helps her tinker with spaceships.  All the trappings of the original tale are here:  evil stepmother and step-sisters, fairy godmother (here, a fairy god-robot), and a Grvaity-Free Ball.  In a surprise twist, Cinderella turns down the prince’s marriage proposal, but agrees to be his chief mechanic.  Our summer readers enjoyed the rhyming text and the graphic novel-type illustrations.  This reader appreciated the focus on Cinderella’s abilities to do things rather than wear things.  Check it out!



A WRINKLE IN TIME: The Graphic Novel

July 18, 2015

WrinkleA Wrinkle in Time:  The Graphic Novel by Madeline L’Engle and Hope Larson

Fifty years ago, Madeline L’Engle’s ground-breaking novel was first published.  Of course, since then it has been hailed as a classic and winner of the Newbery Award.  What a fitting way to celebrate this incredible tale–by creating a graphic novel version.  Once I held the graphic novel in my hands and looked through the pages, I realized that the format provided the perfect illustrations for this amazing and beloved tale.  But that may only be because Hope Larson is the illustrator and clearly holds the novel and its themes in deep respect.

If you haven’t revisited the novel in a while–or have kids you’d like to introduce to Madeline L’Engle, I highly recommend it.  Remember the young Meg and Charles Wallace, and Calvin at the start of their odyssey?  I appreciated being re-introduced to the three Mrs.:  Who, Whatsit, and Which.  United, they are powers that can fight off the dark forces of the universe.  This classic has aged well, too, with a strong female protagonist, as well as intriguing science fiction elements.

It’s got me on the lookout for similar graphic renditions of old favorites.  Let is know when you come across your own re-visioned treasures!

July! Time for More Ice Cream and Hot Dogs

July 10, 2015

It’s fitting that July has been named the month to celebrate hot dogs and ice cream.  For more on the history of these two delicious summer foods (as well as a book or two. . .), check out our blog:

July is National Hot Dog–and Ice Cream–Month.

We’re also recommending a couple of new books to complement your feast.  Enjoy!

Ice-Cream-SummerIce Cream Summer by Peter Sis

If you are interested in a visual treat to go along with your love of ice cream, look no further.  Peter Sis has created an ode to ice cream as his narrator details the joys of his summer learning adventures to his grandfather; the illustrations show ice cream scoop-shaped waves, sand castles with cone turrets, baseball fields with ice cream sandwich bases.  The pastel colors are the perfect palette for this delectable picture book.  And every page really does teach something about ice cream!


Two-Hot-DogsTwo Hot Dogs With Everything by Paul Haven

Not a brand-new book, but new to us.  Because it’s perfect for Jacob, baseball player extraordinaire, soon-to-be third-grader into chapter books and good read alouds.  We think Molly will like it, too, as she is a die-hard LA Dodgers fan.  (Not to mention, Molly is the name of one of the heroes of the book!) The characters are both engaging and a bit quirky.  Danny Gurkin, the main character, is committed to his team and has lots of crazy ideas to help them break the curse that seems to be keeping his team of sluggers from winning.  A surprsing amount of suspense, not to mention humor.  A terrific summer read–and of course, you’ll love that hot dogs are a key plot device!

Ninjas Revisited: Three More for Young Readers

July 3, 2015

Last summer, we were all about Ninjas.  Molly and Jacob had ninja outfits to do battle with (and learn from) Ninja Master Uncle Cory, and of course we complemented our stealth and adventures with books about ninjas.  Read all about it in our post Super Ninjas! 

This summer, we may have moved on to all things Pirate (stay tuned).  But we also hope to revisit our ninja role-plays and supplement our reading with new additions, like these:

LittleLittle Kunoichi, the Ninja Girl by Sanae Ishida

 “Shugyo is the way; The goal: better, not perfect;Practice and have fun”
Little Kunoichi is trying to be a good ninja, learning at “Secret Ninja Girl School,” but it is very challenging!  Luckily, she meets a friend, Chibi Samurai, who goes to a special school, too:  The Samurai Dojo Institute.  They decide to “train like crazy” together using “shugyo,” as they prepare to showcase their special skills at the Island Festival.  A simple tale, but with lots of visual humor in the watercolor illustrations. The end notes also inform about details in the pictures  interested readers can go back and find (like the baby in a peach from the traditional folk tale Momotaro). A great addition to any ninja’s picture book collection.


Ninja!Ninja!  by Arree Chung

If you are into the everyday life of contemporary kid ninjas, this is the book for you.  Of course, many brothers sneak through the house stealthily to tease a sister or steal her snack. . .but it works so much better if you employ your ninja skills!  Dressing the part (in all black fighter garb), and using an unbreakable ninja rope (aka jump rope) make it all the more cunning, courageous, and impressive. The cartoon-like format is a plus, as is the the large illustrations that show the boy’s imagination.


WinkWink:  The Ninja Who Wanted to be Noticed by J.C.Phillips

Who knew there were so many ninja schools for children, at least in the pages of picture books?  In this case, Wink attends the Summer Moon School for Young Ninjas.  Wink struggles with the first two lessons–being silent and being stealthy.  But when he gets the hang of it and puts the two together, he is both proud. . .and disappointed. Nobody notices!  Well, because nobody is supposed to notice ninjas.  But that doesn’t sit well with Wink.  He wants to be, well, noticed.  He is a bit flamboyant and actually craves the spotlight.  His energy surges through the illustrations as he learns his own special talents can make for him being a very nimble ninja indeed. And you can follow his adventures in the follow-up book,  Wink: The Ninja Who Wanted to Nap.



YA Summer Reading: New and Intriguing

June 26, 2015

Summer Reading!  A delightful and not-so-guilty-pleasure.  Treat yourself by toting these new YA books with you to the lakeside, the beach, the mountains, your cozy reading nook at home, or wherever you are carving out time for your summer reading.  We loved them! AvaThe Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton A 2015 William C. Morris YA Debut Award Finalist Sixteen-year-old Ava is in most ways a normal teenager. Of course, there is the little matter of those wings she was born with. . . Her quest to understand her peculiar bird-like wings takes her back two generations to view the world through the eyes of her grandmother Emilienne and her mother Vivianne.  They both suffer broken hearts; will their suffering play out for Ava as well?  The elements of magical realism that Walton creates are the perfect vehicle for exploring the nature of love–both loving and being loved.  Read this book–then talk with your friends about it!


CarnivalThe Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley Flashback to the grunge scene in the early 1990’s.  A move from Chicago to Ireland (Bray to be exact) uproots our young heroine, Maggie, when her mother marries her latest boyfriend and Maggie is transplanted.  But it isn’t so far from her beloved music; she makes a journey to Rome to hear Nirvana in concert.  A realistic and close-up view of the trials of adolescence, meeting quirky and intriguing people from different cultures, falling in love, and finding your own voice.  Unforgettable travelogue romance–and of course, rock music.  Did I mention it’s a (multiple) award-winner? ALA 2015 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults Chicago Weekly Best Books of 2014 A Michael L. Printz Honor Award Winner Winner, 2014 Helen Sheehan YA Book Prize Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2014 Finalist, William C. Morris Award


SunI’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson A 2014 Cybil Award Finalist A 2015 YALSA Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults Book Jude and Noah are fraternal twins, a girl and boy who grow up close as siblings can be, and sharing their passions for artistic expression.  We learn of their close relationship, and also their estrangement through alternating chapters told from each twin’s perspective. The fascinating aspect of it is the two timelines; Noah’s chapters taking place when they are 13 and Jude’s when they are 16.  Truly, art and wonder fill each page as the twins grapple with grief, romance, rivalry, and friendship.  My favorite book I’ve read all year (Ruth here).  If you haven’t read it yet, what are you waiting for?



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