When I saw the little piece today that Netflix has announced that Heartstopper Season 2 has wrapped up, I just knew it was the day to share this one! The graphic series that started as a slow burn 2 years ago or soon, with many of us recommending i,t has steadily gained a huge following but the Netflix series not only clinched its popularity but saw it skyrocket like nothing I’ve seen since the frenzy of HP years ago.
This is going to make the ultimate stocking stuffer for any tween or teen in your circle, as Alice Oseman takes her readers through the whole journey of Heartstopper, with profiles on characters (and even pets!), the artwork including ‘how to draw’ activities for fans, backstories and more.
While there is some room for an owner-reader to personalise the book, I don’t believe this precludes it from a library shelf as these pages are few. For the most part this a celebration of the phenomenon that is Heartstopper along with some very pertinent commentary on the Pride movement, diversity and acceptance for all. The allure of this series is that it is genuinely sweet and wholesome, and every kiddo I know who has read it is not only instantly hooked but dragging in their friends to get hold of it next.
It is beautifully presented in this hardback edition, and would make a marvellous gift at any time but perhaps especially for a Christmas surprise. If, like me, you’ve needed four copies of each volume in the series in your collection, you won’t want to miss out on getting this one.
Highly recommended for readers from around 12 upwards.
The Greenberg sisters have taken the ancient myth of Gaia and updated it with a strong environmental message for young readers in this striking graphic novel/picture book. Following the success of their earlier collaboration, the pair continue with their theme of bringing the Greek goddesses to life, this time with clear parallels to modern circumstances.
Gaia, is revered as the creator of Earth and the universe and all of the natural world held within both: She raised trees from their roots to the sky, sent waterfalls tumbling over cliffs and created the tides that sloshed on the shore. She gifted her creation to animals and mortals, and watched as they made it their home.
But as time went on Gaia was unable to control the power wielded by the warring gods who used their wiles to corrupt and orchestrate the events of mortals such as Achilles and Hercules. Helplessly, Gaia had to watch much of her beautiful creation destroyed by thoughtless and greedy mortals, just as happens today. Despite this, she never gave up trying to save her world and the clear message here is that we too must never give up fighting for the preservation of our planet.
A terrific and very different book to include with any unit of work that is environmentally focused and one that will arouse much interest with readers from around middle to upper primary.
The Adventures of Robin Hood – Russell Punter/Matteo Pincelli
The Adventures of King Arthur – Russell Punter/Andrea da Rold
If you have graphic novel devotees among your readers these will really grab them I have no doubt. They are beautifully presented both in format and illustrations with excellently done captions retelling these thrilling legends. It seems that traditional stories have slid down the reading preference ladder at times so these should go quite some way to restoring their appeal. I know I will be most interested to see what further epic tales will be in store for us.
Dare I say that particularly boys will probably be among the first to get hold of these and for those who love that stirring gung-ho adventure style will eagerly anticipate further instalments. I plan to showcase these to our 5/6/7 classes particularly where I think they will be well received.
Highly recommended for readers from around ten years upwards.
Australian RRP: $27.99 New Zealand RRP: $29.99 Traditional fairytales continue as such a rich source for adaptations, retellings and reworkings that one is often amazed that anyone can come up with a new approach.
Acclaimed graphic novel creator Matt Phelan has proven that it is very possible to revitalise such stories with this interpretation of Snow White.
With a dark and brooding style reminiscent of film noir, Phelan has taken 1930s Manhattan as his setting for this evocative rendering of the favourite tale.
A wealthy man loses his wife but holds onto his fortune despite the relentless and ominous rat-a-tat-tat of the stock ticker. While the rest of New York reels under the collapse of Wall Street the man remarries a glamorous and well known Ziegfield Follies star who swiftly ensures the pretty little daughter, Samantha known as Snow, is removed to a boarding school. Before too long, the wicked new wife decides she cannot be certain that her husband’s good fortune will continue so she cold-bloodedly removes him from the scene via a poisoned cocktail. Her wrath when she discovers that the canny man has altered his will in favour of his beloved daughter is ugly and malicious. However, if anything should happen to Snow, then she would inherit it all and she is completely prepared to make that a reality.
She engages a thug to do the dirty work but he cannot bring himself to do away with the sweet girl and tells her to run. But the seedy alleys of New York are no safe place for a young woman on her own and she is pursued by two street hoods. In the nick of time she is rescued by some small men – in fact, they are just boys who take her to their hideout.
And so the story goes on – with a wonderfully satisfactory happy ending.
The amazing illustrations done throughout in grey tones (until the last few pages) have been done in ink, pencil and watercolour with some digital adjustments and would be a rich resource to inspire young artists. It is these illustrations which tell the story with very little text and make for a sombre and gripping retell of this classic.
A beautiful addition to your collection for secondary students particularly those interested in creative writing and illustrating.
You can access teaching notes here and watch a terrific trailer here.
With the plethora of dystopian fiction that has been overwhelming readers in recent years, this very amusing graphic novel is a welcome relief. A hilarious spin on the whole genre, this is perfect for Middle School readers with a discerning sense of humour.
Two dogs, Apollo and Brownie, usually have no more drama in their days than their running dispute about who is on the couch and who is on the floor. Until a day comes when unbeknownst to this pair, chaos descends on the world outside – the dawn of the apocalypse with everyone gone.
As dinner time draws nearer and there is no appearance of their humans, the dogs begin to fear that their owners might be ‘Gone for Good’ with the usual hysterical panic that most dogs seem to experience. But when dinner time comes and goes and the next day moves in with still no humans, the dogs realise that this time perhaps their panic was justified and reluctantly decide they must leave the house to find food. Just this scene alone as the two dogs are baffled by how they will unlock the front door was enough to make me laugh aloud.
How will these two cope with survival in the unknown wider world? And when they are faced with the dog-eat-dog scene for those animals who have survived the disaster, things become even more fraught.
I predict this will have huge appeal to both boys and girls and that it will be the kind of book where the recommendations fly along by word of mouth.
Romeo & Juliet – Retold by Jim Pipe, Illustrated by Penko Gelev
Book House, UK, 2014
via INT Books (Tom Danby)
48 pp. RRP $15.95
If, as I have just experienced, you have students who struggle with Shakespeare, this series could prove a valuable complement to your collection. My Year 10 boys have just done a unit on Romeo & Juliet and while we steered clear of reading the play in full, instead selecting passages, watching the film, live performance from Grin & Tonic and so on, many still had some problems.
I took this slim graphic volume in for them to look at, and several commented that they now understood a particular part or made notes using the book.
Firstly, the graphic format breaks the play down in a storyboard type format which is easy to follow. Secondly, while the ‘speech’ is still Shakespearean, there are footnotes to ‘translate’ into modern day language. This running glossary is probably the most beneficial aspect of this version. Additionally there are several pages at the back with information about Shakespeare, his work and his times plus an index. A useful page as a frontispiece, pictures the characters with their names and relationship to Romeo and Juliet.
The only disconcerting note for me is the illustrator’s tendency to have the characters look like muddy-faced trolls – Juliet is far from attractive as she scowls with her troll-face to swallow her potion. In fact, they all look very unpleasant – whether they are the good guys or not!
That being said I think this would be very handy for those students who need a simplified version and visual connection to help them grasp the main ideas and themes of Shakespeare. Others in this series included A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, Julius Caesar and The Merchant of Venice. There are also other classic stories published in the same format – see the publisher’s page here,