Online Graphic Novels from Libby

ebooks for children and teens

Kids love Graphic Novels. Did you know that many of your kids favorites can be found free online ? Libby is an app that allows students to browse books, read a short sample, and download their choices. It’s available for most public libraries. https://www.overdrive.com/apps/libby/

Adults can find e-books and audio books at https://rbdigital.com/home

https://librarianlou.wordpress.com/2020/04/07/now-is-the-time-for-e-books/

Great Family Read Aloud-The Wednesday Wars

WednesdayWarsDuring your time of forced togetherness, consider this family read-aloud for older children. Parents and teens will enjoy the adventures of Holling Hood Hood in “The Wednesday Wars.”

It’s 1967, and Holling Hood Hood is in for a rough year. His teacher, Mrs. Baker, hates him. It’s not like he’s a troublemaker like Doug Swieteck, famous for keeping a list of 401 ways to torture teachers or Doug Swieteck’s brother who had visited three police stations in two states and once spent a night in jail.  Holling Hood Hood is just trying to stay out of trouble.

And the school year only gets worse. On Wednesday afternoon half the class is dismissed early for Hebrew instruction and the other half attend Catholic instruction, leaving Holling alone with the teacher who “hates” him. And it’s not like she’s going to give him a break like most teachers would. She has decided that they will read Shakespeare together “for fun.”

So Holling Hood Hood begins his tale of gloom and doom in the seventh grade.

While this story is set in the sixties, today’s teens will relate to young Holling struggles with bullies who demand cream puffs, first love, and two evil rats, Caliban and Sycorax., (named after monsters in “The Tempest.”)

“Let me tell you it’s a pretty hard thing to be a seventh-grader with new death threats hanging over you every day.”

Holling Hood Hood in “The Wednesday Wars.”

Surprisingly, Holling enjoys Shakespeare. He agrees to be in the community theatre production of”The Tempest” never realizing that means wearing yellow tights with white feathers on the butt. This is bad enough on the stage, but when his dressing room is locked, he is forced to meet his idol, Yankees baseball player, Mickey Mantle, while wearing his fairy costume  (with white feathers on the butt.)  He then returns to school, to find pictures of himself as Ariel the Fairy posted all over the school.

Okay-for-NowPB

Holling’s melodramatic narration is reminiscent of “The Wonder Years.” There are many laugh-out movements and some poignant scenes as well.

“Okay for Now” is a companion book to The Wednesday Wars. It features Holling’s friend and known troublemaker, Doug Switeck, as he moves to a new town and tries to change his image as a thug.

The Wednesday Wars is available on Libby, free from your public library’s website. https://librarianlou.wordpress.com/2020/04/07/now-is-the-time-for-e-books/

I’ll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan, a young adult romance and adventure novel.

“I’ll be There” by Holly Goldberg Sloan begins with a sweet romance and turns into a harrowing adventure tale. Readers will find this suspenseful book hard to put down. Sometimes her plots stretch credibility, but I don’t care. I love her books anyway!

Sam Border has led the life of a vagrant. His father, Clarence, is a conman and criminal. He drifts from place to place with his two sons, often to stay ahead of law enforcement. He spends his time stealing and pawning goods. Sam has not been to school since the second grade. He and his brother, Riddle, stay hidden during the school day and emerge from their low-income apartment later in the day to go dumpster diving.

Clarence finds the boys useful. People are less suspicious of a single dad with two sons. As the boys grow older, he resents them. Neither boy is willing to steal making them useless in his eyes.

Emily Bell is your all American girl. Her parents are loving people who want to make a positive mark on their world. Emily plays second string soccer and excels in school. She is curious about people and notices things that others fail to see.

When a series of random meetings brings her and Sam together. Emily finds him fascinating. He’s not like any guy she’s ever known. He’s quiet and humble, a welcome change from the arrogant Bobby Ellis, who has had his eyes on Emily for months.

When Emily’s parents realize she is in love, they insist on having Sam over for dinner. Mr. Bell discovers that Sam is a musical prodigy. It’s not long before Sam and Riddle become a fixture in the Bell household.

It’s scary for Sam who is beginning to realize how strange his life really is. Riddle, Sam’s brother, stands out even more. He’s five years younger and small for his age. He rarely talks and spends most of his free time creating intricate drawings in old phone books.

The book takes a sinister turn when Clarence Border finds Emily Bell’s cellphone in his son’s pocket. Clarence is very angry about his sons’ secret lives. He vows to seek revenge.

Meanwhile, the senior Bells are unaware that Sam and Riddle live in a moldy house on the worst side of town or that many of their meals come from trash cans. When Mr. Bell’s car is vandalized, Sam realizes that he has put the Bell family in danger.

 When Sam and Riddle arrive home, Clarence is throwing everything into the trunk and angrily orders them inside. They have headed again for an unknown destination.

They are now caught in a life or death spiral. Clarence vows revenge. From this point, it’s a wild ride for the brothers who must not only deal with Clarence’s wrath but also navigate a remote wilderness without supplies or assistance.

This is a great book for anyone who loves a good love story or adventure. It’s light reading at its best.

You can download this book and many others at https://bhmlib.org/nc-kids/ or through any public library in North Carolina. Other libraries also have e-books available.

Smile by Raina Telgemeier: A Review

The current crisis is a great time to explore some fun Young Adult Books. I am planning to review some of my favorites.

Let’s face it. Middle School is traumatic!  Middle schoolers think eveyone notices everything they do. Classmates can be cruel. Anything that makes you different from your classmates feels like torture.

Smile by Raina Telemeier is an autobiographical graphic novel chronicling the ups and downs of middle school and high school, a tough season for any adolescent especially if there’s something that sets you apart from your classmates.

At age 12, Raina fell on the pavement resulting in losing her two front teeth. Six year olds with missing front teeth are adorable, twelve years olds not so much. Raina’s life for the next four years includes dental surgeries, trips to specalists and two sets of braces.Most of all, she feels different from her classmates. Her story navigates crushes, friendships and other teen drama.

Smile encourages the reader to laugh and sympathize with Raina’s recollections. When she spies her crush in the hall, she is so enamored that she walks right into a row of lockers.  When she tries on extensive headgear for her braces, She exclaims, “C’mom Mom, let’s go get me some glasses, a pocket protector and some velcro shoes.”

Raina begins her story with sixth grade and ends in high school. Along the way, she learns to chose her friends more carefully and pursue her talents for drawing and singing. She gradually settles in with a new group of artsy friends that are kinder, more authentic and accepting.

Kids love graphic novels.  Teachers and librarians are increasingly realizing the benefits of this genre.  Smile, however, is an exceptional graphic novel.  It won the Wil Eisner Award for best books for teens.  Telgemeier has published other graphic novels.

https://goraina.com/resources

Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip by Jordan Sonneblick.

 Curveball

 The sensitive male teen, yes he actually exists and you’ll find him in the narration of books by Jordan Sonneblick.  His characters always seem like the teens I’d like to adopt.  They are often handsome and smart without knowing it, use a lot of self-deprecating humor and are in the process of falling in love.

In Curveball, The Year I Lost my Grip, Peter Friedman is facing two crushing disappointments.. 

Since Little League, he has always been a star pitcher.   The summer before entering high school, he has his best season ever on the pitching mound.   Then in the championship game, he injures his elbow so severely that he will never be able to pitch again.

Then, there’s his grandfather, he and Pete have always shared a special relationship.  Grandpa is a professional photographer who has taught Peter everything he knows.  Suddenly grandpa is doing strange things like giving Pete all his photo equipment and getting lost on familiar streets.

For many students, high school can feel like a letdown after ruling middle school.  Josh no longer has his baseball to set him apart.  Life becomes brighter when he meets Angelika in photography class.  Angelika is a sensitive girl who has a way of getting to the real issues.  She understands that Peter has experienced a great loss and empathizes with his worries about his grandfather, encouraging him to discuss it with his parents instead of keeping his grandfather’s secret.

This is a great book for middle and high school students.  While there is definitely romance going on, this book is about much more.  Readers will find Pete’s narration to be humorous even as he deals with loss and finds a new life after baseball.

 

 

 

 

 

In Memory of Lois Duncan

Before The Hunger Games, or Harry Potter or James Patterson’s Middle School Books, there was Lois Duncan.

The Young Adult books of my time  (I graduated from high school in 1977) were limited.  Most of them were problem novels about drug addicts and  teenage alcoholics. (News Flash! drug addicts and alcoholic don’t  read books.)

But in the 1970s and 1980s,  Lois Duncan was one of the most popular young adult authors.  Her books were about normal teenagers suddenly thrown into terror and suspense.

Books like…

Ransom-a  terrorist comes aboard a school bus and takes students hostage.

Don’t Look Behind You – April’s normal life ends  abruptly, when she and her family are forced to flee drug dealers and  enter the Witness Security Program

or  Locked in Time– Lenore begins to realize that her stepmother and stepsiblings never age.  Her stepmother kills off her husbands when they become inconvenient.

Young Adult Author, Richard Peck talked to The New York Times about Duncan in 1978:.

“Lois Duncan breaks some new ground in a novel without sex, drugs or black leather jackets. But the taboo she tampers with is far more potent and pervasive: the unleashed fury of the permissively reared against any assault on their egos and authority. … The value of the book lies in the twisted logic of the teenagers and how easily they can justify anything.”KillingMrGriffin

This was certainly true of Killing Mr. Griffin. When several high school students plot to kidnap their loathsome English teacher, they are suddenly dealing with a dead body and a whole host of other problems.   Lest you think I am giving the plot away, that’s only the beginning.  The story is about the teens’ attempt to cover their tracks.

DaughtersOfEve

Then there were The Daughters of Eve in Duncan’s first book. Members of a female secret society are advised by a radical feminist teacher to carry out extreme acts of violence.  The New York Times Book Review referred to it as a female Lord of the Flies.

Lois Duncan died on June 15 at age 82.  Her books will be remembered by many former teens.

She knows what you did last summer. And she knows how to find that secret evil in her characters’ hearts, evil she turns into throat-clutching suspense in book after book. Does anyone write scarier books than Lois Duncan? I don’t think so.

—  R.L. Stine, author of Goosebumps and Fear Street

 

Novelist: A Cure for the Reading Funk

novel

I have been in a reading funk lately. Even as a librarian, I find myself having a hard time connecting with that just right book.  Usually my motto is “So Many Books-so little time.”

Life feels stressful at present and I want pure escapism.  Perhaps I’ve worked so hard reading children’s books for this blog that I haven’t found time to read for  me.  Usually when I walk into a library, I feel like a kid in a candy store.  But sometimes, I feel overwhelmed by the choices.  My reading life has never fit in to simple categories.

One great cure for the reading funk is the Novelist Online Database.  It’s available on most public library’s webpages.  Library employees will be happy to share this resource with you.  Novelist recommends books for adults, teens and children. It links back to the library catalog so you can reserve the book

Novelist can…

  • help you locate all the books by your favorite author.
  • provide read-alikes for popular authors and titles
  • provide genre lists for countless interests.  (There are 8 themed lists for teen graphic novels and 13 themed lists for adult mysteries.)
  • locate a book with a particular setting.
  • find books in series
  • find informational as well as fiction books.

Once you locate a book, there are book reviews, age range, lexile levels and subject headings.  I have been using Novelist and Novelist K-8 for years. I have yet to tap into to all the resources available.

Novelist is a great tool for teachers and homeschoolers.  It’s easy to find books that supplement the curriculum.  Historical fiction can be a great way to help students grasp history.  Parents can also use Novelist to help children explore their interests. This database has evolved over time to meet the changing needs of its users.

Novelist is as its best recommending books to upper elementary, teens and adults. The upper elementary years  can be a golden age of reading. .  During this time, children begin getting more specific in their reading choices. If we want children to enjoy reading, we need to offer them lots of choices. There will be more competition for entertainment as children reach their teens.   Finding the right books for children and teens is a key ingredient in creating lifelong readers.  Novelist is a great tool in this process.