Book Reviews, K-5 Literacy

Strong Female Leads & Fantastic Graphic Novels: My November Reads

November is almost over and I read some great books during this month! Check them out!

The links in this post lead to the book’s corresponding Goodreads page.

Rosie Revere and the Raucus Riveters:
The Questioneers
by Andrea Beaty

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Ages 7-10

Rosie Revere, Engineer is turning into quite the franchise. Rosie is now the leader of Beaty’s group of innovative characters in both a nonfiction book and a brand new transitional chapter book series. And let me tell you- I am so excited! This series opener was great, and with the same illustrator as the picture books, David Roberts, nearly every page has a striking penciled illustration with just a speck of riveter red. It is clear that there will be a formula to these transitional readers: Rosie will discover a problem that needs to be solved, and develop the solution by creating an unusual contraption with a very narrow, but intriguing, purpose. I think this formula will be successful in pulling in those 7-10 year olds that are just starting to read chapter books. I can’t wait for more!

Aquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neill

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Ages 7-10

I first met O’Neill’s work in Princess Princess Ever After and saw her talent again in the Tea Dragon Society. O’ Neill describes her genre as “gentle fantasy” and I think that is a perfect description. Her artwork draws you into a calm, pastel, and somehow soft, world filled with gentle, loving, and absolutely adorable creatures. The drama is always light, and the art beautiful. Aquicorn Cove is my favorite of O’Neill’s work so far. I can see it making a great read for a child growing out of their obsession with mermaids, but still in need of a little magic.

You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P!
by Alex Gino

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Ages 8-12

I loved Alex Gino’s George and expected to like love Jilly P just as much…. I loved it more. In thier newest novel, Gino has managed to write a children’s story that discusses the intersection of race and ability in a way that is accessible and entertaining- not an easy feat! This is the kind of story that really teaches a child something, and will stick with them forever. And, it is much needed. Thank you, Alex Gino!

Love Like Sky
by Leslie C. Youngblood

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*I’m not “starring” this one, because I feel like my lack of personal enjoyment conflicts with its real literary value. 

Ages 8-12

First I want to say: there is an audience for this book and I would recommend it to children. It is realistic, and children who are apart of blended/broken families will see themselves represented well. However, it was difficult for me to read as an adult. The prose felt broken and I often caught myself beginning paragraphs and feeling like I missed something. I may try it again at a later date, because while I did not enjoy it, I feel like there is definitely something here to enjoy!

Lumberjanes: Infernal Compass 
by Lilah Sturges

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Ages 10+

Infernal Compass is a Lumberjanes graphic novel by a different author, not Noelle Stevenson who writes the originals. I didn’t like this one as much as the originals, but Lumberjanes is great and I always appreciate the taking of strong historical women’s names in vain! My favorite in Infernal Compass is “Audre Lorde have mercy!”

Sanity and Tallulah
by Molly Brooks

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Ages 8+

Sanity and Tallulah is the best children’s graphic novel that I’ve read in a long time. The title characters are a pair of friends that live on board Wilnick Space Station. They do regular things, like watch popular TV shows, and go to school, but their intelligence and parental connections also get them into a lot of shenanigans. The story follows Sanity and Tallulah as they try to find Sanity’s escaped science project and end up discovering a critical problem with the space station’s innards. The graphic novel’s dialogue is technical, and may be too obtuse for some young readers. With that said, what I love most about this book is that the situations and relationships still feel somehow familiar– Tallulah’s mother’s chastisings, Sanity and Tallulah’s complete obliviousness their parents’ worry, and even spats between adult characters. The representation is also great. There are multiple female directors and people of color. To summarize, there is a lot to love about this book for all ages of readers, so go read it!

The Truly Brave Princesses
by Dolores Brown and Sonja Wimmer

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Ages 4-7

As a children’s librarian who loves feminist children’s literature- Skip it. I repeat: Skip it. There are so many better feminist children’s books out there. This one is mediocre at best, and problematic at worst. My main issue with this book is that nearly every “princess” is defined by her marital status. It is often the first sentence in her profile: “single,” “single mother,” “divorced,” “just got married,” “widow,” and “never got married.” That’s nearly half right there! And then, many who aren’t defined by a marital status are still defined by their relationships to men. One princess doesn’t wait “for the prince to come home,” i.e. she works and he doesn’t. Another’s “prince” is a stay-at-home dad. If your child is into princesses and you want a progressive book to read, try The Paper Bag Princess, Not All Princesses Dress in Pink, Dangerously Ever After, or Shannan Hale’s Princess in Black series.

The House With Chicken Legs
by Sophie Anderson

Screen Shot 2018-11-25 at 11.07.10 AM4StarsAges 8-12

This is a truly original work of fiction and well worth reading. Marinka is a Yaga’s graddaughter and future Guardian, where her role will be to guide the dead through The Gate. However, being Guardian comes with a price: Yaga live secluded from the living, alone, with just their pets and living, breathing, walking houses! This is a very interesting interpretation of the ages old Russian Baba Yaga folklore. Marinka deals with lonliness, responsibility that she isn’t fully comfortable with, and a naivety about her problems. Anderson does a fantastic job of giving the reader an image of  house that is living, animate, moving, and feeling. What I loved most about this book is reading about the house’s reaction to various things that happen. I’ve never sympathized with an inanimate object so much!

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