Elem. – Never Forget: Heroes of 9/11 (Series NF)

Buckley, Jr., James. Never Forget: Heroes of 9/11. Bearport Publishing, 2022. 24 p. $20.00 ea. $120.00 set of 6. Grades 3-5. 

Canine Hero. 978-1-636-91025-3.
The Doctor Saves the Day. 978-1-636-91026-0.
EMS to the Rescue. 978-1-636-91028-4.
Fighting back in Flight. 978-1-636-91027-7.
Guiding Light. 978-1-636-91023-9.
Tale of Two Marines. 978-1-636-91024-6.

Heroism, helping in any way possible, and acting bravely in the face of danger are the themes emphasized in this nonfiction title about the September 11 Terrorist Attacks. This graphic nonfiction comic is one of six in the “Never Forget: Heroes of 9/11” series. The narrative nonfiction style of writing, as well as the colorful comic-style panel illustrations, will engage reluctant readers. The fast-paced action also will keep readers hooked. The story focuses on two former United States Marines who each feel compelled to do what they can to help on the day of the attacks. Both arrive at the World Trade Center and immediately begin searching for people who are trapped in the collapsed rubble. As a team, they look out for each other’s safety while also combing the debris for survivors. A backmatter section titled “A Day Like No Other” includes five paragraphs about the September 11 Attacks as well as real photographs of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the Flight 93 Crash Site. A section titled “Other Ground Zero Heroes” features two other ordinary people who jumped into action on September 11. Other backmatter includes a Glossary, Index, and sections with additional book and online resource recommendations.

THOUGHTS: This is an age-appropriate, easily accessible title to share with students as they learn about the September 11 Terrorist Attacks. The focus of the book is on the heroic efforts of ordinary people in the face of extreme danger and uncertainty, not on the attackers’ motives or politics.

Nonfiction Comics          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD
973.931 United States History

MG – Muddle School

Whamond, Dave. Muddle School. Kids Can Press, 2021. 978-1-525-30486-6. $15.99. 144 p. Grades 5-8.

This semi-autobiographical graphic novel follows Dave, a self-proclaimed nerd, through an eventful year of his “Muddle School” journey. Dave’s school experiences swing from the lowest lows, including getting pushed into mud by bullies on the first day of school, to the highest highs, as he kisses his crush at the end-of-the-year dance. He and his lab partner Chad even design a time machine for the science fair, which Daniel tries to use to go back and redo his disastrous first few months of typical middle school blunders. Throughout the book, Dave learns that being authentic, standing up for others and taking risks are the best ways to survive Muddle School.

THOUGHTS: The illustrations, jokes and silly situations that appear in this book are a wonderful glimpse into the mind of a middle school boy. Dave shows true fondness for his family, hates bullies but feels helpless against them, and uses his love of drawing to help himself process his feelings; everything feels authentic, if a little sanitized, to the school experiences of teen and tween-agers today. In the brief back-matter pages, it is delightful to find out that many of the things the author includes in the story actually happened! Many middle school students will be able to relate to this book and find humor and comfort in the life of another awkward boy just trying to make his way through Muddle School.

Graphic Novel          Erin Faulkner, Cumberland Valley SD

YA – Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel

Reynolds, Jason & Novgorodoff, Danica. Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel. Atheneum, 2020. 978-1-534-44495-9. 208 p. $19.99. Grades 10-12.

The seven floors that Will travels becomes even more of a punch in the gut with Novgorodoff’s eerie images. The story is the same; Will has to decide if he is going to follow the “rules” and kill the guy who killed his brother. During the sixty seconds it takes him to get to the ground floor, he meets someone who was connected to his brother in some way. Will gains access to more pieces of the puzzle with each encounter that is perfectly depicted with raw edged watercolor paintings. The graphic novel includes traditional panels as well as full page images that draw in readers, even those who know this story well.

THOUGHTS: For any library that is looking to expand their graphic novel collection with novel adaptations or more diversity, this book is a must. If Long Way Down is constantly checked out of your library, this could be a great segue for readers to appreciate the format of graphic novels with a terrifying story. Warning: There are images of guns and gore.

Graphic Novel          Samantha Hull, Ephrata Area SD

Elem./MG – Allergic: A Graphic Novel

Lloyd, Megan Wagner. Allergic: A Graphic Novel. Illustrated by Michelle Mee Nutter. Graphix, 2021. 978-1-338-56891-2. 240 p. $24.99. Grades 3-6.

With younger twin brothers and a new baby on the way, Maggie feels alone in her loving family. She’s convinced her parents, who are preoccupied with baby names and other preparations, to let her adopt a puppy that will be her own. Maggie has been looking forward to her tenth birthday for a long time, since this is the day she gets her perfect pet. At the animal shelter, however, Maggie breaks out into a severe rash, and she learns that she’s allergic to anything with fur. So much for her puppy. Devastated, but determined to find the perfect pet, Maggie begins research, as she works her way through allergy shots and makes a new friend. Told in colorful graphic panels, readers will enjoy Maggie’s attempts at finding a perfect pet and will appreciate her frustration when things go awry with her new friend.

THOUGHTS: Readers with any allergies, but especially those allergic to pets, will felt represented in this cute graphic novel. A great addition to elementary and middle grade collections.

Graphic Novel          Maryalice Bond, South Middleton SD

Maggie is feeling left out in her family. Her parents are focused on the new baby they are expecting, her twin brothers are always together and doing their own thing. She thinks a dog would be the perfect companion! But, when her family goes to pick out a dog for Maggie’s birthday, they discover that she is very allergic to anything with fur! Maggie is devastated, but her new friend that moved in next door is helping to ease the disappointment. That is until her friend talks her dad into getting her own dog. Now, Maggie feels betrayed by the one person she thought understood her. Can Maggie survive allergy shots and make things right with her best friend?

THOUGHTS: Fans of Raina Telgemeier will love Allergic! A great addition to your graphic novel section.

Graphic Novel          Krista Fitzpatrick, PSLA Member

Elem./MG – Logan Likes Mary Anne! (The Baby-Sitters Club)

Galligan, Gale. Logan Likes Mary Anne! (The Baby-Sitters Club). Graphix, 2020. 978-1-338-30455-8. $24.99. 164 p. Grades 3-6. 

It’s time to start eighth grade, and Mary Anne is excited but nervous. The BSC is busier than ever, Mary Anne just might get up the nerve to ask her father for a kitten, and school is going well…enter Logan Bruno, the movie star look-alike new kid from Louisville. He’s fun, cute, and loves kids! When the BSC sends Logan and Mary Anne on a baby-sitting job together, they hit it off and Mary Anne and Logan start hanging out more often, including going to a big dance together. After some embarrassing moments and misunderstandings, Mary Anne and Logan’s relationship blossoms. Other highlights: Jessi Ramsey makes her first appearance in Stoneybrook, Mary Anne adopts kitten Tigger with her father’s blessing, and Jessi and Logan become BSC members. While I favor Raina Telgemeier’s illustration style over Gale Galligan’s, Galligan adapted Ann M. Martin’s chapter book well and gave the story and characters some great updating. Also, while the original Logan was blonde and blue-eyed, Galligan’s Logan is Black, adding a welcome and realistic diversity to the BSC.

THOUGHTS: A solid addition to a very popular series.

Graphic Novel                Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin SD

Elem. – Act (Click)

Miller, Kayla. Act (Click). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020. 978-0-358-24218-5. $21.69. 203 p. Grades 3-6. 

When Olive realizes that some friends are excluded from the class field trip, she decides to run for an open spot in student government and make some changes. Olive enlists the help of friends and family to help campaign, make posters, and research protests, but relationships are strained when some friends aren’t loyal to her cause. Her friends Sawyer and Trent decide to run against her on a “Pudding for all!” ticket. Ultimately, Olive loses the election but still gets to serve as a rep when Sawyer steps down and offers Olive, third in line for one of the two open spots, his position. He and Trent realize that Olive will make an excellent rep, and they want to give her a chance to do some good. I love Olive’s diverse friendships–her middle school experience helps so many readers identify with some part of the “Click” series.

THOUGHTS: If your students already know Olive and friends, they’ll love the new offering–very timely in 2020. If you and your students don’t know Olive, you must meet her. Start with Click and enjoy!

741.5 Graphic Novel          Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin SD

MG – Forget Me Nat

Scrivan, Maria. Forget Me Nat.  Graphix, an Imprint of Scholastic, 2020.  978-1-338-53825-0. 234 p. $21.69. Grades 3-6.

Natalie is in love with Derek, and she is sure he is in love with her. He wrote her a cute note right before winter break, and he asked her if she wanted to read his comic book. Soon, they were spending a lot of time together, but Natalie spending time with Derek means she’s not spending time with Zoe and Flo, and it also means she’s doing things she doesn’t really like to do, like eating pineapple pizza and joining math club. Natalie’s obsession with Derek could mean the end of her best friendships, and when her feelings aren’t reciprocated, it sends Natalie into a spiral of unhappiness and self-doubt. Natalie will have to learn that self-confidence does not come from a relationship–it comes from within.

THOUGHTS:  Maria Scrivan picks up where she left off with Nat Enough. Fans of Raina Telgemeier and Svetlana Chmakova will enjoy this series.

Graphic Novel          Melissa Johnston, North Allegheny SD

MG – One Year at Ellsmere

Hicks, Faith Erin. One Year at Ellsmere. First Second, 2020.  978-1-250-21909-1. 166 p. $19.97. Grades 5-8.

Juniper knows she will not fit in at her fancy new private school–child of a single mother, lower income, scholarship student–and she is prepared. She is at Ellsmere for the academics, and if her classmates don’t like her, that’s just fine. She probably won’t like them either. So it is no surprise when she lands on the radar of mean girl Emily. Jun thinks she can handle her, but this time she may have met her match. Luckily, Jun has her roommate, Cassie, as a friend and ally. She will need her if she is going to survive her first year at Ellsmere.

THOUGHTS: Perfect for fans of Smile and Jennifer L. Holm’s Sunny books who are looking for something a little darker with more drama. There are some fantastical elements at the end that are not really necessary, but overall it’s a good add for a middle school graphic novel section.

Graphic Novel          Melissa Johnston, North Allegheny SD

YA – Heartstopper #1

Oseman, Alice. Heartstopper # 1. Graphix, 2020. 978-1-338-61743-6. 288 p. $14.99. Grades 8-12.

Fans of romance and coming of age stories, go no further. Oseman’s volume one of the Heartstopper series will do just that: stop your heart. This light take on a young man coming out to his school before he was really ready, dives into male friendships and more within a school setting. The story is set in England and revolves around a rugby team so there is slang that might be lost on some readers. This is a great story of male friendship that broadens into something more. Although school isn’t always a safe place, Oseman reminds us that there are people to be safe with. It’s important to note that this is a story revolving around gay high school students and that includes the abuse, both physical and verbal that still occurs, especially for individuals who are trying to figure themselves out. Oseman leaves the reader hanging and ready for volume two.

THOUGHTS: This is a great addition to high school libraries who are looking to make their graphic novel collection more realistic. In addition, this is a great mirror into the thoughts and feelings adolescents may have while discovering their sexual preferences and navigating the rough seas of high school.

Graphic Novel          Samantha Hull, Ephrata Area SD