Upper Elem/MS – Adventures of John Blake; Good Story Someday; Orphan Island;

Pullman, Phillip. The Adventures of John Blake: Mystery of the Ghost Ship. Scholastic, 2017. 9781338149128. $19.99. 159p. Gr. 3 to 7.

Philip Pullman’s first foray into graphic novels is The Adventures of John Blake: Mystery of the Ghost Ship. The story involves a time-traveling schooner that many people seem to know about and want to find, including the billionaire, Dahlberg, and, Danielle, a young woman who works for a maritime organization in San Francisco. The boat appears mysteriously after an otherworldly storm followed by a dense fog. The story includes a boy that can mysteriously kill you within a month if you look into his eyes, a 3D object related to time travel, an unsolved murder, and a monitoring device called an apparator, that the billionaire uses to keep tabs on everyone in the world who has one (which is most people.) THOUGHTS: I couldn’t wait to read this graphic novel from Philip Pullman since I’m a big fan of the His Dark Materials books. Although I wasn’t in love with the illustrations, they don’t detract from the story. The story itself kept me interested and the book’s characters are diverse: age, sex, and ethnicity are represented in a natural way. This is a an excellent addition to a school library and even though the publisher rates it for ages 8 to 12, older students and even graphic novel reading adults will enjoy this story.  

Graphic Novel      Bridget Fox, Central Bucks SD


Levy, Dana Alison. This Would Make a Good Story Someday. Delacorte Press, 2017. 978-1101938171.  315 pp. $19.99. Gr. 4-8.

Sara is going into Middle School after the summer and has detailed plans to spend time with her friends and improve herself. But surprise, Mimi (one of Sara’s moms) has won a month long train trip! Mimi is going to write about the trip and their family, college age Laurel, her boyfriend Root, Sara, their other mom, and Li, the little sister. Sara does not want any part of it but is dragged along anyway. To make matters worse, the other prize winner and his family are going to be traveling companions with them.  THOUGHTS: I loved the fact that the two moms are not the central theme of this book. It also brings up some difficult and current topics through Laurel (very granola and political) but don’t force the reader to agree with the character’s views.

Realistic Fiction       Emily Woodward, The Baldwin School


Snyder, Laurel. Orphan Island.  Walden Pond Press, 2017.  978-0062443410.  288 p.  $16.99  Gr. 4-7.

Each year, a new child mysteriously arrives in a green boat on an island where nine orphans live on their own, with no adults to care for them. Then, the eldest must leave because of a rhyme that has been passed down for as long as anyone can remember: Nine on an island, orphans all/ Any more–the sky might fall.”  When little Ess arrives, and Deen leaves, Jinny becomes the eldest, and she is haunted with the knowledge that her days on her beloved island are now numbered. The island is a safe, almost magical place, with gorgeous sunrises, snakes that don’t bite, and cliffs that are impossible to fall off. Only the water is dangerous, and no one knows where the new orphans come from or where the eldest orphans are headed.  There are not a lot of rules to follow, but when rules are broken, there are consequences.  “Never pick the last of anything” is a rule that was broken once, and as a result, there are no more curlyferns on the island.  Jinny does not want to leave, and so, when a new orphan arrives, she simply refuses to get in the boat.  When terrible things start happening, Jinny fears that her choice to break the most important Island rule is wreaking havoc on the only home she can remember.  THOUGHTS: Orphan Island is an allegory about the transition from childhood to adulthood. The fact that it offers far more questions than answers might be frustrating to some readers. However, it is a beautifully written and thought-provoking book that rewards those who enjoy participating in the creative process of making meaning.  A must-buy for upper elementary and middle school libraries.  This book will stand the test of time.

Fantasy                  Maggie Bokelman, Cumberland Valley SD

YA Graphic Novels – Pashmina; Wires & Nerve; Decelerate Blue

Chanani, Nidhi. Pashmina. First Second Books, 2017. 978-1-626720886. 176 pp. $21.99. Gr. 6-9.

When Priyani puts on the pashmina that she finds in a hallway closet, she is transported to India, and author Nidhi Chanani’s black and white artwork is transformed into rich color. Priyani is greeted by new friends Kanta and Mayur (an elephant and a peacock), her tour guides through her mother’s home country. She’s captivated by the sights, sounds, and tastes, but she’s also pursued by a mysterious shadow figure. The pashmina slips off, and Pri is back home again, desperately hoping to talk her mother into letting her travel to India IRL. Her mother relents after receiving a phone call from Pri’s aunt, who is pregnant and seeking family to support her. THOUGHTS: This middle-grade graphic novel charmingly depicts the many ups and downs of a mother-daughter relationship, the pashmina’s true purpose, and the importance of connecting with one’s familial culture. It’s a wonderful choices for readers who find themselves somewhere in between Raina Telgemeier’s and Lucy Knisley’s books.

Graphic Novel     Amy V. Pickett, Ridley School District


Meyer, Marissa, and Doug Holgate, illustrator. Wires and Nerve. Feiwel and Friends, 2017. 978-1-250-07826-1. 238 pp. $21.99. Gr. 7 and up.

Return to the world of Marissa Meyer’s much-beloved Lunar Chronicles with Wires & Nerve, a graphic novel told from the point of view of Cinder’s android companion, Iko. The revolution is over and Cinder is queen, but dethroned Queen Levana’s wolf-hybrid soldiers are still terrorizing residents of earth. Iko, the proud owner of a new escort-droid body, has been tracking and apprehending these wolf packs all over the globe and she’s got the battle scars to prove it. Everything comes to a boil with a gala, a huge announcement from Cinder, and a plot against the queen. Wires & Nerve has a rollicking, getting-the-gang-back-together tone that balances the complex back-story and long roster of characters. The fun, slate gray-colored artwork is a good fit with the novel’s futuristic plot. And the cliffhanger ending guarantees a sequel or two! THOUGHTS: Newcomers to Meyer’s stories might find themselves a little lost, but what better excuse could you need to dive into the stellar Lunar Chronicles series?

Graphic Novel, Science Fiction Amy V. Pickett, Ridley School District


Rapp, Adam, and Mike Cavallaro, Illustrator. Decelerate Blue. First Second, 2017. 978-1-59643-109-6. 188 pp. $17.99. Gr. 8 and up.

Lois Lowry’s The Giver meets M.T. Anderson’s Feed in Adam Rapp’s graphic novel Decelerate Blue, a creative exploration of a hyperkinetic future and the resistance movement dedicated to slowing things down. Angela Swiff is uncomfortable with a world that prizes speed, brevity, and constant connectedness. For example, she studies a “clipped and cleaned” version of Romeo and Juliet in Brief Lit. Someone who calls himself “The Silent One” senses her discontent and anonymously delivers her a contraband book entitled Kick the Boot. Meanwhile Angela’s beloved grandfather is scheduled to be moved to a reduction colony, but first he asks her to dig up a shoebox he buried under a tree behind the Megamall. While doing so she is literally pulled into an underground community that rejects New World alertness in favor of Old World mindfulness. New love with a girl named Gladys makes the Underground even more appealing, but joining the resistance has high stakes. Angela is a perfectly teenaged mix of spunk, vulnerability, and passion. Mike Cavallaro’s artwork is wonderfully expressive and well-suited to this cautionary tale of technology gone hyper. THOUGHTS: Grab a cup of Rapid Jo and prepare to fly through this gripping and, yes, fast-paced graphic novel. It’s perfect for fans of Matched by Ally Condie.

Graphic Novel, Science Fiction     Amy V. Pickett, Ridley School District

Graphic Novels for Elementary – Super Narwhal & Jelly Jolt; Cici #3

Clanton, Ben. Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt. Tundra Books, 2017. 978-1-101-91829-6. 64 p. $12.99. Gr. K-3.

Narwhal and Jelly return for more undersea fun, this time as superheroes! Super Narwhal and his trusty sidekick Jelly Jolt have super outfits, super names, super secret identities, and superpowers…well, Jelly Jolt has a superpower (that nasty jolt felt by beachgoers everywhere), but Super Narwhal isn’t quite sure about his super ability. In true Narwhal style, his optimistic attitude wins the day. It turns out that his superpower is the power to “bring out the super in others!” Ben Clanton’s new easy graphic novel series is packed with humor, fun characters, and waffles (Narwhal and Jelly’s favorite food, of course).  His style is great for beginning graphic novel readers–a lot of the story is told in full-page panels rather than many panels on one page, making it an easy read. THOUGHTS: Funny and likeable, Narwhal and Jelly are new super stars in the graphic novel world. A great choice for most kids.

Graphic Novel       Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin School District


Doerrfield, Cori. Cici #3, A Fairy’s Tale: A Perfect View. Graphic Universe, 2017. 978-1-4677-6154-3. 47 p. $20.00. Gr. K-3.

Cici learned on her 10th birthday that she is a fairy, and now her world’s turned upside down! Her abuela, also a fairy, is helping Cici learn how to navigate the world now that her “sight” is a bit different. For example, she now sees her mom as an octopus with many tentacles! Cici is planning her annual camping trip with her dad and younger sister; she’s excited to swim in the lake, hike in the woods, roast marshmallows, and share the fun with her friend Kendra. Abuela warns Cici that nature has powerful magic and that she needs to be prepared, but Cici is armed with bug spray and a sleeping bag, which she thinks is all the preparation she needs. When they arrive at the campsite, one thing after another goes wrong for Cici. Kendra and Cici’s family enjoy every minute of the trip, but Cici has a hard time coping with all the changes, including the addition of a mysterious creature who keeps popping up in the woods asking to be her friend. In the end, with the help of the mysterious forest sprites, Cici realizes that she can still enjoy the magic of nature and the trip, even if it’s different than she planned.  THOUGHTS: With bright illustrations and a likeable main character, this story will be popular with existing fans of the series and new readers alike.

Graphic Novel          Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin School District

Upper Elementary/MS Fiction – Varmints; Dear Dumb Diary; Royal Wedding Disaster; Sealed with a Secret

Hirsch, Andy. Varmints. New York: First Second, 2016. 978-1-62672-279-8. $16.99. 213 p. Gr. 3-7.

Varmints, set in the Wild Old West, details the journey of a brother and sister on a quest to find their Pa.  Opie and Ned are in for more adventures and skirmishes than they planned in the seven chapters. They come across horse thieves, work at the Silverfish Lodge, escape a fire, survive an eventful train ride, purchase a new donkey, and participate in a downright dangerous derby. The siblings don’t always get along, but their emotional connection and love is clear through the danger and humor. THOUGHTS: This book provides an excellent combination of dialogue, plot, and full color artwork to hook readers. Readers will want more of the adventures of Opie and Ned!

Graphic Novel      Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School


Benton, Jim.  Dear Dumb Diary, Deluxe: Dumbness is a Dish Best Served Cold. New York: Scholastic, 2016. 978-0-545-93228-8. 197 pp. $12.99. Gr. 3-6.

While the narrator, Jamie Kelly, warns the reader to stop reading her diary, they will continue to enjoy the tale filled with humor and full color artwork. In this diary, Jamie is trying to help make her friend feel better. Jamie’s mother secretly tells Jamie that Angeline’s father recently lost his job. This explains why Angeline has been so focused on personal finance and money. To make Angeline feel better, Jamie makes up a story that their handmade plates might make them some money. But, when Angeline learns the truth, she feels betrayed. The book allows reads to value honesty in friendship.  Unexpectedly, Jamie has an invention that will help add to both of their savings accounts. The end concludes with recipe suggestions to make your own “salad glamorizer” and “health-o-plate” allowing readers to continue the fun when the chapters end.

THOUGHTS: This is an ideal choice for fans of the Dork Diaries series.

Realistic Fiction     Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School


Cabot, Meg. Royal Wedding Disaster (From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess Bk. 2). New York: Feiwel and Friends, 2016.  978-1-250-06604-6. 283 p. $16.99  Gr. 4-7.

Helping with the her half-sister Mia’s wedding is consuming for middle schooler Olivia. Finding time to go to school is exhausting. Will she be able to make friends at her new royal school and withstand the teasing of not being a true royal since she is from a mixed family? Grandmother is still a task master and training Olivia to be the best royal possible. Olivia’s best friend will fly in for the wedding from New Jersey, and she misses seeing her since Genovia is far away. A problem on the royal ground is an influx of iguana. PK, passionate about Genovian Herpetology Rescue Society, is able to help with the iguana situation. The wedding turns out to be successful and the purple dresses are a surprise for Mia.  THOUGHTS: This book demonstrates that you don’t have to be locked into a stereotype. You can be royal and have other hobbies like swimming, art, fashion, or reptiles! Mia and Michael’s wedding introduces Lilly, Lana, Boris, and hair dresser, Paolo, into the story.  If readers are new to Meg Cabot, they can read this series and then continue to The Princess Diaries novels.

Realistic Fiction     Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School


Schroeder, Lisa. Sealed with a Secret. New York: Scholastic, 2016. 978-0-545-90734-7. 217 p. Gr. 3-6.

Phoebe keeps the Cartier makeup compact that she purchased at the flea market a secret even though it could be worth a lot of money that her family could use to help with expenses.  The compact has a unique photograph and a letter behind. The letter helps her learn history from 1941 and the ARP (air raid precautions.)  Ned agrees to help her find places in the letter if she helps find a gift for his mum’s 40th birthday. Their travels take them to locations including the Peter Pan Statue, Kensington Gardens, London Music Hall, Trafalgar Square, and a historic crypt! With all of the adventures, will she help find the best gift for Ned’s mum, and what happens when her family learns about the compact? THOUGHTS: This book could be tied to Kate Messner’s The Fourteenth Goldfish (Bloomsbury, 2016) as both books feature a younger sister drifting from their older sister.  Adventure and historical elements make this book come alive.

Realistic Fiction     Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School

YA Graphic Novels – Black Panther; Goldie Vance

Coates, Ta-Nehisi. Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet. New York: Marvel, 2016. 978-1-302-90053-3. $16.99. Gr. 7-12.

Fresh from winning the National Book Award for Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates takes on the story of Marvel’s Black Panther. People are restless in the African nation of Wakanda. They are unhappy and angry with their long standing leader, T’Challa, Black Panther, and are rising up in revolt. He is determined to stop the ones responsible for this revolt, Zenzi and Tetu, and bring peace back to his nation. With the help of flashbacks, readers are shown the bloody history of Wakanda and the hard times Black Panther has faced as leader. Brian Stelfreeze’s incredibly vivid artwork shines as Wakanda’s history unfolds. But perhaps the best part of this graphic novel are a few other hidden gems, including variant images of Black Panther by different artists throughout the story; a detailed Black Panther chronology, and a behind the scenes glimpse into the graphic novel creation; and a recreation of the first appearance of the Black Panther from a 1966 issue of the Fantastic Four. THOUGHTS:  If graphic novels are even the least bit popular in your library, buy this. With a Marvel Black Panther movie in the works for 2018, and his recent appearance in the Avengers: Age of Ultron movie, this will fly off your shelves.

Graphic Novel     Vicki Schwoebel, Friends’ Central School


Larson, Hope. Goldie Vance: Volume One. Boom! Box, 2016. 978-1-60886-898-8. $9.99. 112p. Gr. 6-12.

Goldie Vance splits time between her divorced parents; her mother is a mermaid at a downtown club, and her father is the manager of a first class resort hotel in Florida, The Crossed Palms. In addition to valeting cars, sixteen year old Goldie also assists the in-house Detective, Mr. Tooey. Detective work is her passion, and she hopes one day to become the head detective. When a hotel resident goes missing, Goldie must track down elusive clues and hot leads to solve the case and prove to Mr. Tooey that she can be a valuable assistant. But her love for curiosity soon gets her into trouble, and gets both she and her father fired from The Crossed Palms. Together with her best friend Cheryl, Goldie’s crush Diane, and a handful of other friends, Goldie’s sets out to solve a seemingly unsolvable mystery. THOUGHTS: An excellent addition to any middle grade or teen graphic novel collection. Goldie Vance provides a refreshing array of diverse characters in a retro style, while also offering a fun story line and engaging drawings.

Graphic Novel       Vicki Schwoebel, Friends’ Central School

New Middle Grades…The Trilogy of Two; Newts; Home is the Place


Malouf, Juman. The Trilogy of Two. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers. 2015. 978-0-399-17114-7. 416p. $15.34. Gr 5-8.

Twelve-year-old identical twins Charlotte and Sonja Tatters have amazing musical talent. They’ve spent their entire lives performing with a travelling circus alongside their adopted mother, Tatty the Tattooed Lady, and their Uncle Tell, the fortune teller. Lately, it seems like the twins’ power over their audience is stronger than normal, and one night, their playing even channels an indoor rainstorm and levitates the entire crowd. When the girls’ musical talent is abruptly stolen and Tatty is kidnapped, the twins learn they are really the Daughters of the Key, and they play an important role in protecting the mythical Seven Edens from greedy Katz von Stralen who is out to rob all the worlds’ children of their talents. Malouf’s vivid storytelling pulls listeners into this fantasy world, leading them through the Outskirts, the Million-Mile-High City, the Golden Underground, and the Forlorn Forest.  THOUGHTS:  Strong middle-grade readers will enjoy following Charlotte and Sonja on this novel’s three-part adventure, but the amount of world-building necessary for setting the story’s foundation may deter others.

Fantasy    Anne Bozievich, Friendship Elementary, Southern York County




TenNapel, Doug.  Nnewts:  Escape From The Lizards.  New York:  Scholastic,  2015.  978-0-545-67646-5.  185 pages.  $10.95.  Gr. 4-8.

The Nnewts, a community of amphibians, live in the the village of Nnewtown. Herk is a young Nnewt who is  confined to his home’s spawning pool because his legs are not strong enough to support his body. When Nnewtown is attacked by the evil Lizzarks, Herk’s parents are killed and he is forced to escape. On his journey he meets many new characters who give him the courage to confront the Snake Lord, the villian who replaced his strong legs with weaker legs.

This is the first volume of this new graphic novel series.  The illustrations in this book are very enjoyable and complete the story.   My students can not get enough of the graphic novel genre, and I believe they will enjoy this storyline as well.  THOUGHTS:  Herk’s adventures will hold the attention of the most reluctant reader.  This book is recommended for any elementary or children’s collection.

Graphic Novel       Anastasia Hanneken, School Lane Charter School




Martin, Ann M. Home is the Place. New York: Scholastic, 2015. 978-0-545-35945-0. 215p. $16.99. Gr 4–6.

This book is the final in a quartet of stories that follows four generations of the same family: Abby, Dana, Francie, and Georgia. This volume begins with Georgia’s sixth birthday and follows her for the next twenty years of her life. As her story unfolds, her mother Francie, grandmother Dana, and great-grandmother Abby’s stories intertwine. Georgia also learns some secrets about her great -great-grandmother Nell after discovering her diaries hidden away behind a secret panel in her girlhood home in Maine. Each of the book’s chapters takes place in a different year, and the story culminates with great-grandma Abby’s 100th birthday party celebration.  THOUGHTS:  Martin’s straightforward storytelling and vivid descriptions bring the past alive while also drawing readers into Georgia’s present-day world. This title will be popular with thoughtful readers who will enjoy tracing the bond between the women in this family from generation to generation. Although this story can stand alone, to be fully appreciated, it should be read with the preceding three volumes.

Historical Fiction Anne Bozievich, Friendship Elementary, Southern York County

Medieval + Space + Cleopatra + Third Generation = New in Children’s Lit.

Martin, Ann M. Best Kept Secret: The Third Generation. (Family Tree Book Three).  New York: Scholastic, 2014. 978-0-545-35944-3. 219 p. $14.49. Gr. 3-6.
The book opens in July of 1977 as Francie is getting ready for school unexcited as she struggles to read due to dyslexia. A total of 19 chapters advance the book to August 1988.  During second grade she meets Kaycee, who becomes a best friend for life. Francie yearns for more independence during fourth grade but that is unsettled when she is almost abducted, and she does not share this happening with her parents. Shortly after, a girl is abducted in the area and is not found causing Francie not to act like herself and giving her a secret that she does not share.  There are secrets that she learns about her family, such as her great-uncle who has been living in a group home for a long time. Her beloved Adele, aunt to her mother Dana, battles against cancer and at that time learns her parents will be divorced. As Francie’s grandmother gets older, Dana volunteers to take care of Francie’s compassionate adult uncle who must always be supervised due to his condition. The epilogue brings the reader to June 1994 sharing that Francie has graduated college perusing writing like her mother, is married, pregnant and moving back to her childhood house.
Historical Fiction                    Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School
In truth, I have not read the first two books in the Family Tree series and it probably is a good idea to read the series in order. The book as a standalone did not present me with a close connection to Francie’s grandmother, mother, or other family members.  It is a novel concept to have the series span four generations and reading the books in order will best show this development. When suggesting this book to students, be certain that they have read the first two books before reading Best Kept Secret.
Jeffrey, Gary. Graphic Medieval History (series). New York: ABDO, 2014. 48 p. $23.54 each. Gr. 5-8
The Black Death. Illustrated by Alessandro Poluzzi.  978-0-7787-0400-3.
Castles. Illustrated by Nick Spender.  978-0-7787-0396-9.
Crusades. Illustrated by Terry Riley. 978-0-7787-0397-6.
The Dark Ages and The Vikings. Illustrated by Nick Spender.  978-0-7787-0401-0.
Knights. Illustrated by Nick Spender.  978-0-7787-0398-3-
Rebellion and Revolt. Illustrated by Terry Riley.  978-0-7787-0399-0.
Medieval history includes brutal events, and this series does not shy away from this truth. Each books begins with a two page spread on the featured topics and events such as Castle Buildings, Wars of Independence, After the Romans, Warrior Elite, and The First Crusades. The art is detailed showing the grandeur of castles and landscape, but also more graphic images such as the lancing of buboes, draining of blood, or sheep eating corpse as can be found in The Black Death. In addition, images in Crusades include severed heads in a basket, and blood covered ax with dead covered in of pools of blood. The section “Edward I Conquers Wales” in the book Castles, opens with the head of a sheriff and tax collector prominently displayed from the doorway showing the level of violence. The book follows up on the topic by providing a page spread of facts, artwork and other full-color images. A page spread glossary of terms is found in each book ranging from abdicated, phalanx to usurper. All books close with an index. With the wide variety of topic areas, this set provides a window into the medieval world with narrative, facts and artwork. Medieval history is most commonly found in the middle school curriculum and this series will help supplement lessons or projects but also serve as a general reading interest book for many students.
Medieval History; Graphic     Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School
Black Death (614.5) Castles (355.4) Crusades ( 909.07) Dark Ages (942.01) Knights ( 929.7) Rebellion (941.03)
Maihack, Mike. Cleopatra in Space. (Target Practice Book 1). New York: Scholastic, 2014.  978-0-545-52843-6. 169 p. $12.99 Gr. 3-6.
Science fiction is high flying with none other than a teenager Cleopatra in this full color graphic novel divided into three chapters. Cleo is about to turn fifteen years old at the start of the book and does not enjoy  algebra. Quickly, through her adventures, she is sent into the future, thought to be the Savior of the Nile Galaxy. In the new setting she must attend school at Yosiro Academy.  She becomes friends with her roommates Akila and Brian, a creative inventor making each moment exciting.  The fun will carry on with the next book in the series Book Two: The Thief and The Sword. This is a great book to introduce readers to graphic novels with striking artwork and an inventive story.
741.5  Graphic Novels; Science Fiction             Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School

Trekkies and Monsters and Graphic Novels?…oh my!


Star Trek (series). Minneapolis, MN: ABDO, 2013-2014. 24p. $16.95ea. Gr. 6-8.
Johnson, Mike. The Galileo Seven, Part 1. 978-1-61479-159-1.
Johnson, Mike. The Galileo Seven, Part 2. 978-1-61479-160-7.
Johnson, Mike. Where No Man Has Gone Before, Part 1. 978-1-61479-161-4.
Johnson, Mike. Where No Man Has Gone Before, Part 2. 978-1-61479-162-1.

Get beamed up into these graphic novel tales featuring the Star Trek characters from the recent movie versions of the popular series. In The Galileo Seven, Spock is in command of a shuttle crew that is stranded on an unexplored planet. Cut off from communication with the Enterprise, the shuttle crew soon realizes they are not alone on the planet when they are the victim of a deadly attack. Meanwhile, back aboard the Enterprise, Capt. Kirk must decide how much time to expend on a search for his missing comrades before continuing on a time-sensitive mission. Ultimately both Spock and Kirk are forced to make difficult decisions that could result in the demise of the stranded crewmembers.

In Where No Man Has Gone Before, the USS Enterprise encounters an unknown force field in space. This force field causes the ship to be disabled, as well as the death of several crew.  Most disturbing, Capt. Kirk’s good friend Lt. Gary Mitchell begins to exhibit strange symptoms. He becomes very angry and confrontational, displays ESP-type symptoms and his eyes emit a strange glow. Clearly Mitchell has been taken over by an evil force. Given the situation (crippled ship, evil being onboard), Spock recommends that Mitchell be abandoned in space or killed. Kirk is thus forced to confront the evil force residing in his friend body in order to save the crew of the Enterprise.
Science Fiction, Graphic Novel                                                      Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg HS/MS

One not need to be a Star Trek aficionado to appreciate and enjoy these graphic novels. Both tales are action packed and in both cases, Volume 1 ends with a tense cliffhanger that had me eagerly reaching for Volume 2. Fans of the recent Star Trek movies will recognize not only the characters (the illustrations are based on the actors from the films), but also the characterizations. The phrases and vocal inflections present in the character dialogue are strongly reminiscent of the movie dialogue. Give this series to both “Trekkies” and science fiction fans alike!



Monster Science (series). North Mankato, MN: Capstone, 2013. 32p. $22.49 ea. Gr. 5-8.
Harbo, Christopher L. Frankenstein’s Monster and Scientific Method. 978-1-4296-9931-0.

Shaffer, Jody Jensen. Vampires and Light. 978-1-4296-9928-0.

Wacholtz, Anthony. Mummies and Sound. 978-1-4296-9930-3.

Weakland, Mark. Zombies and Electricity. 978-1-42969929-7.
The Monster Science series aims to engage students in  graphic-novel style books that present various scientific topics.  Each book features a type of monster that that is used to illustrate and demonstrate the scientific issue/principles being discussed.  For example, Zombies and Electricity features the undead doing various activities (brushing their hair, petting a cat) in order to generate static electricity.   The illustrations are engaging-full of humor and action packed (who knew there were so many ways to electrocute a zombie?!).  Sentences are kept short in order to avoid overwhelming readers with too much information at one time.  Definitions and diagrams are included to further explain the topic being discussed..  Each book includes a glossary, additional sources and web links.

Science, Graphic Novel                                                                    Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg HS/MS

Students can definitely find traditional science texts dry and difficult to understand, so I appreciated the authors’ laudable goal of engaging students in science by combing commonly studied topics with two things students enjoy: graphic novels and monsters.  The end result, however, was somewhat mixed.  The graphic novel elements of the story—the quality of illustration, the humor present in the scenes, etc. were good.  The integration of the science into the storyline, was not quite as seamless—some science facts were just hard to work into the plot. That said, I would still recommend this series to libraries looking to expand their non-fiction graphic novel collections and/or looking for new ways to engage students in reading and understanding science.