Thursday, October 21, 2021

Brainstorm 252: The Morbid Curiosity Mystery Trio

‘Tis the season to curl up with a good mystery. If finding a good mystery is your biggest case right now, I have some leads for you in this week’s Brainstorm. I’ve been stumbling upon more and more young lady sleuths I feel like who would make for grand friends if they only lived in the same time period. They are all British, all under-appreciated geniuses, and all suffer from “morbid curiosity” that just might be their undoing but that also makes them fabulous sleuths to follow around. And they are all tweens who have the mettle to solve murder mysteries (which are few and far between for tween sleuths). So let me introduce you to Aggie, Flavia, and Myrtle. Click on the book title to see my full review including any content notes/trigger warnings.

The Body under the Piano (Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen, #1) by Marthe Jocelyn, ill. by Isabelle Follath

Aggie Morton is a most curious young lady. As in, she is curious about rather unusual things. Like just what happens after a body dies, where would one procure a particular poison, and who murdered Mrs Irma Eversham (whom Aggie just happened to be the first to see under the piano in the Mermaid Room on Saturday). The police are looking at dance instructor and sister-in-law of the deceased, Miss Marianne Eversham, but Aggie just knows Miss Marianne would never have done such a thing. With the help of her new acquaintance, Hector Perot, a refugee child from Belgium, Aggie is gathering clues to free Miss Marianne and discover who the real murderer could be.

In case you didn't guess from the title, characters, or subject matter, this is historical fiction mystery loosely based on Agatha Christie's childhood. I love how the author worked in so many nods to Agatha Christie's novels, and of course, Hector Perot reads just like a child version of Hercule Poirot. The second book in this series is a Christmas mystery I liked even better than this one, and I’m eagerly awaiting book 3 which is on order.

Target Readers:

Historical Fiction Fans, British Golden Age Mystery Fans, Agatha Christie Fans, Refugee Character Fans, Biographical Fiction Fans, Upper Middle Grade Readers (though YA & Adult readers who have read lots of Christie will get a lot out of this series too)

Premeditated Myrtle (Myrtle Hardcastle Mysteries, #1) by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Myrtle Hardcastle has trouble with being a Young Woman of Quality thanks to her morbid fascinations. While making Observations of the neighborhood. Myrtle realizes there is something very wrong at the Redgraves estate next door. No one is following their usual routine, and that is unheard of. It is so startling Myrtle makes a little call to the police, and sure enough they show up to discover the old lady next door, Miss Wodehouse is quite dead. Of course, Myrtle must go make her own Observations, and when her evidence fails to match up with that of the local police's ruling of death by heart attack, she must help them see the error of their ways. For Myrtle is quite convinced that someone did Miss Wodehouse in. But who? And why were her prize lilies destroyed? And where is her cat? With the help of her trusty governess, Miss Judson, Myrtle is determined to see justice served.

Myrtle stands out from the rest of this trio of ladies in that she has a trusty adult by her side to offer advice, guidance, and correction when she needs it. Miss Judson is not a hindrance to the fun at all, either. She is just as determined to get to the root of the mystery.

Target Readers:

Historical Fiction Fans, Forensics Fans, British Golden Age Mystery Fans, Middle Grade Readers (though many YA and adult readers will enjoy Myrtle too) 

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce, #1) by Alan Bradley

Flavia de Luce goes outside early one morning only to find a stranger breathing his last words in their cucumbers. Normal 11 year old girls would have screamed and fled the scene, but Flavia is 100% intrigued and when her father is arrested for the crime, is soon trying to untangle the knots surrounding the stranger, a rare stamp, her father's old schoolmaster, and the dead man in the garden.

Flavia is one plucky, precocious girl with just the right touch of crazy misfit. In her case, the misfit comes in the form of not really connecting with her older sisters and of having a better understanding of Chemistry than most college graduates; the crazy comes in a penchant for poisons. (She’s also the only one in this trio marketed to the adult reader crowd instead of middle grade.) This series is set in 1950s England, an era that often gets ignored in mystery settings. 

Target Readers:

1950s Historical Fiction Fans, Complicated Families Fans, Adult Readers (though approachable to YA)

Friday, October 15, 2021

Brainstorm 251: Survival Stories for Hatchet Fans

Some of you may have heard that Gary Paulsen, the author of Hatchet and many other books, died this week. In honor of an author who sparked a love of survival stories in so many generations of kids, I started a list of survival stories for today’s Brainstorm and realized I had WAY too many books on my list, and I needed to narrow it down. I’ve decided for today’s list I’ll stick with the books most like Hatchet, realistic fictional survival stories. I may do some future Brainstorms with the dystopian survival stories, true survival stories, war survival stories, North Korean survival stories, Amazon survival stories, etc. (Oh the subgenres of survival stories!) Obviously, the books in today’s Brainstorm are all good recommendations for readers who love survival stories and contemporary fiction so I won’t bother listing that in every single Target Readers section. Click on the titles to see my full review of each one including any content notes/trigger warnings.

The Canyon’s Edge by Dusti Bowling

It's Nora's birthday. Her dad has picked a slot canyon for them repel into and explore. Nora is super excited to be doing something somewhat normal with her father. She and her mom and dad used to go hiking and rock climbing all the time. But ever since the disaster on her last birthday, a disaster that ended her mom's life, they haven't done much, and her father has become more and more reclusive. He believes the only safe place is somewhere without any other people. Somewhere like a slot canyon in the middle of the desert. But danger lurks even in the absence of other people, and a flash flood comes and Nora and her dad are separated. The disaster makes all her anxiety and PTSD come to the surface. Can Nora conquer the Beast that stalks her in order to survive and be reunited with her dad?

An excellently written novel in verse that explores a lot of issues tactfully, features a desert-savvy girl, and moves at a good pace.

Target Readers:

Mental Health Story Fans, Canyoneering Fans, Desert Setting Fans, Novel in Verse Fans, Quick Read Fans, Middle Grade Readers

Cove by Cynan Jones

A man goes out in a kayak to spread his father's ashes in the cove. In order to not disturb some others on the beach, he decides to go further out than he intended and come back later. But during that time, a storm rolls in and the man is struck by lightning. He wakes up disoriented, with no clue how long he was knocked out, no sight of land, and suffering side-effects of being hit by lightning. Can he make it back to land?

The only reason I first noticed this book is that the cover had a note on it about the author winning a Welsh writing prize, and I couldn't think of another Welsh author I've read off the top of my head. It's a different little book that's less than 100 pages long.

Target Readers:

Sea Story Fans, Welsh Author Fans, Quiet/Introspective Story Fans, Quick Read Fans, Short Story Fans, Adult Readers (though approachable to well-read YA readers)

The Disaster Days by Rebecca Behrens

Hannah lives in an idyllic remote community on Pelling island near Seattle. After school she heads over to one of her two neighbor's houses to babysit the Matlock kids while their mom goes to an art show in the city. Hannah is a little nervous as it is only her 2nd time babysitting ever. Just a little while after Ms. Matlock leaves, and Hannah is in the middle of a texting argument with her supposed best friend, a major earthquake hits. The Cascades never get earthquakes, or so Hannah thought. But they are definitely in the middle of one and its aftershocks now. Can Hannah and the two elementary-age Matlock kids survive on their own in their isolated community till help comes?

I could not put this one down! The characters are believable, likable kids in a very plausible situation, and they have to figure out some tricky situations all on their own.

Target Readers:

Natural Disaster Story Fans, Unputdownable Story Fans, Middle Grade Readers

The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart

Mark is tired of his life being controlled by illness. He's tired of putting on a brave face. He's tired of hiding tears. He's tired of making his parents cry. And so when the latest news comes from the doctor that the cancer is back again Mark grabs his dog and decides to go climb Mt. Rainier. He's thought this through enough that he leads a false trail for the police and his parents so he can actually make it there. The way to the mountain is rough, especially for someone as sick as Mark, but he's determined to die on his own terms. He did leave a note for his best friend Jessie, giving her a clue as to where he's gone. But he trusts her to keep his secret, just as he's trusted her to let him be real when no one else would. Jessie is tormented by this burden Mark has left on her shoulders. Is it best to let him have his desire, or should she tell his worried parents where he is? As Mark sets out to conquer the mountain, he finds unexpected things the trip brings up that he must confront to get at the honest truth.

This sounds like a horribly hard read, and in some ways it is but Gemeinhart was a wizard with his writing. It isn't as gut-wrenching as you think it might be. It is a pretty even-keeled look at what a person going through cancer experiences, but it is done in an exceedingly artful way. 

Target Readers:

Pediatric Cancer Story Fans, Mental Health Story Fans, Friendship Story Fans, Middle Grade Readers

Ice Dogs by Terry Lynn Johnson

Victoria Secord is a musher, a sled dog racer. She grew up doing this with her dad and she's determined to win a race in his honor this year since he isn't around to win his own. When Victoria hears that Mr. Cook is possibly going to sell his sled dogs, she decides she can't miss the opportunity to snatch up some of his champions. Her mom won't drive her over, so she quickly decides to take a small team of dogs on some back trails. She throws in basic stuff she might need for an afternoon run and is off. Her plans for a quick trip are thrown for a loop when she comes across a guy who just wrapped his snowmobile around a tree and obviously needs help. She hauls him into the sled and listens to his directions to his place, only to be stopped by a blizzard bearing down on them quickly. Victoria gets them squared away to weather out the snow storm, figuring they'll be able to find Chris's place in the morning. But come morning, she finds out that Chris just moved to Alaska from Ontario yesterday, he couldn't find his way without blazing lights, oh, and he managed to get her only map caught on fire last night. Obviously Chris isn't going to be any help, so it's all up to Victoria to get them back to warmth and shelter. Without the map and in an area with no cell phone reception, though, that is going to be tricky. It'll be a battle against all the Alaskan winter wilderness can throw their way to see if they can survive.

If you're looking for a survival read that is on the cozier end of the spectrum, this is a great pick. It never gets too heavy, and even has moments of humor.

Target Readers:

Dog Lovers, Alaskan Setting Fans, Wintry Survival Fans, Light Romance Fans, Middle Grade/Young Adult Readers

Running on the Roof of the World by Jess Butterworth

Tash burns to see her people freed from the oppressive soldiers that enforce all the restrictive rules in Tibet and prevent them from singing traditional songs or even saying the name of the Dalai Lama. Tash’s parents work for the resistance. After a man sets himself on fire in the town square, the soldiers start cracking down on everyone they even remotely suspect of being involved in the resistance and throwing them in jail. Tash’s parents know they are next. As the soldiers come down their street, they sneak her out the back window and give her a backpack containing something very important the soldiers must not find. After their arrest, Tash starts to make her way to the one person she thinks can help, the Dalai Lama. Her best friend Sam joins her, and an old man in the village lets them borrow his yaks Eve and Bones. The two children must sneak out of the village, evade the soldiers, and find their way to India through the Himalayan passes to see if they can pass on whatever message the backpack contains and get help for their village.

I love the Tibetan/Himalayan setting of this story and the way it tactfully makes readers aware of the human rights issues going on there in recent years. Also, the yaks are great.

Target Readers:

Tibet/Himalaya Setting Fans, Wintry Survival Fans, Adventure Fans, Middle Grade Readers

Wildfire by Rodman Philbrick

The plan was for Sam to go to summer camp while his mom went to rehab to get her life back together. Sam made it to camp, but when wildfires break out he gets left behind when he ducks out of line to grab the phone he forgot. Now he's on a race against the flames through the Maine wilderness. After a few days he runs into Delphy, an older girl who was at another camp nearby. The two of them have to pull their know-how, grit, and resources to try and make it home.

I really liked how Sam and Delphy bonded in a quickly adopted little brother/big sister type of way. The story barely has a slow moment, but there is just enough time allotted to let Sam and Delphy work through their personal issues and experience some healthy growth.

Target Readers:

Natural Disaster Story Fans, Suspense Story Fans, Unlikely Friendship Fans, Fans of Stories about Kids with Parents in Rehab, Middle Grade Readers

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Brainstorm 250: Basketball, Maps, and Codebreakers, 3 Nonfiction/Fiction Reading Pairs

For today’s Brainstorm I have 3 sets of nonfiction & fiction books that can be read together for an even richer experience. Click on the titles to see my full reviews including any content notes/trigger warnings.

B is for Baller: the Ultimate Basketball Alphabet by James Littlejohn, ill. by Matthew Shipley
An alphabet book for little basketball superfans of NBA basketball greats current and historic (as of fall of 2018) that references basketball slang and historic basketball moments.

Goodnight Basketball by Michael Dahl, ill. by Udayana Lugo
A little basketball fan gets to go cheer on his favorite team in person and has great fun at the game before coming home to bed.

Target Readers:
Basketball Players, Basketball Fans, Picture Book Readers


The story of how a group of graphic designers headed by Massimo Vignelli remade the New York subway map to make it easier to read and understand.

Mapping Sam by Joyce Hesselberth
Follow Sam the cat on her nightly wanderings around town and learn about different kinds of maps and things that maps can show.

Target Readers:
Kids Learning to read Maps/Charts/Graphs, Kids Interested in Graphic Design, Curious Readers, Picture Book Readers

During WWII, as more and more men were going overseas to serve in the armed forces fighting, the US Army and Navy started secretly recruiting women to work as code breakers. This book outlines how the programs started, how the women were covertly recruited, what kind of work they did, what living and working conditions were like for these women, and how some of their lives were changed forever by their wartime jobs.

Cape (The League of Secret Heroes, #1) by Kate Hannigan, ill. by Patrick Spaziante
Josie, Mae, and Akiko were all trying out for the job that involved code breaking when they find themselves suddenly thrown together into a bigger adventure than they pictured. Despite their different backgrounds, the girls all share a love of codes and superheroes, which is good. Because after witnessing a German spy take out a superhero the girls suddenly find themselves with superpowers. They have to figure out how to control their new powers, figure out if they can trust one another with their various secrets and war time heartaches, while also uncovering a German spy ring and rescuing some kidnapped code breakers right on USA soil, all without letting their families know what is going on. (The code breakers mentioned are some of the historic ladies the Code Girls book talks about.)

Target Readers:
Code & Codebreaking Lovers, WWII Story Fans, Superhero Fans (both real and fictional), Math Lovers, History Buffs, Middle Grade Readers

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Brainstorm 249: Biographical Fiction

This week’s Brainstorm explores biographical fiction. These books are historical fiction that are heavily based on true stories. Often the authors base the stories on family member’s lives, or people they have researched and/or interviewed extensively. Generally, what keeps the books in the fiction category instead of nonfiction are that the authors imagine dialogue, emotions, and sometimes condense a number of historical figures or events into a single fictional character/event to make the telling more concise and easier to follow. These are all stories you definitely want to hang around and read the author’s notes in the back for to find out what was true and what the author made up. They are all that much more fascinating for being based on real people and events. I have to confess that I thought a couple of these stories were a little far-fetched while reading them, only to find out when reading the back that those were the factual parts! Sometimes the truth really is stranger and more wild than things we can dream up. As always, click on the titles to see my full reviews including any content notes/trigger warnings.

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol

Based loosely on real events, this graphic novel follows around a young Vera as she goes to Russian Orthodox summer camp for the first time and must try to survive without running water, endure games of capture the flag the girls can’t seem to win, and most challenging of all, making new friends.

Target Readers:

Graphic Novel Fans, 1970s/1980s Historical Fiction Fans, Summer Camp Story Fans, Russian American Character Fans, Middle Grade Readers

Brother's Keeper by Julie Lee

Sora and her family are tired of the restrictions of the Communists in their North Korean village. As the beginnings of the Korean War rumble, her father decides it is time to escape the religious and ideological persecution and get to South Korea. Her mother has a brother in Busan, and the family decides to head there. But as the sneak out at night with what they can carry, Sora and her 8 year old brother are separated from their parents and baby brother. Can Sora get the two of them to Busan in winter across a war zone safely? The author says in the back of the book that this story is largely inspired by her own mother's escape from North Korea to Busan during the start of the Korean War with one brother.

Target Readers:

Survival Story Fans, Korean War Setting Fans, Korea Setting Fans, Bittersweet Story Fans, Middle Grade/Young Adult Readers

Home in the Woods by Eliza Wheeler

Marvel is just 6 when she, her 4 older siblings, 3 younger siblings, and her Mum must move into a rundown tarpaper cover shack in the Wisconsin woods after Father dies. When they move in they are all a little glum and the place doesn't seem like much. But as the seasons change they find little joys in the woods around their home and their time together, bringing warmth and joy back into their lives. The author's note in the back of the book says that this story is based on the author's grandmother's life during the Great Depression.

Target Readers:

Big Family Story Fans, Great Depression Era Fans, Rural Setting Fans, Finding Joy in Little Things Story Fans, Art Lovers, Picture Book Readers

The House on Silat Road by S.S. Si-Hoe & Sim Ee Waun, ill. by Lim An-Ling

Sing, her 9 siblings, her parents, and their live-in helper have moved to a big house on Silat Road, high on a hill. Sing loves the big new house and all it holds. Soon, she and her siblings find out their father moved them there for a reason and built the house with special secrets. He had heard the Japanese were coming and wanted them to be ready. So as WWII crashes onto the shores of Singapore, Sing shares her family's experiences at their new house and how it helps them make it through the war. The author based the story on her own experiences as a child in Singapore at the time. This is a little gem of a biographical fiction that will make historical Singapore come alive.

Target Readers:

Big Family Story Fans, Singapore Setting Fans, WWII Era Fans, Upper Lower Grade/Middle Grade Readers

I Can Make This Promised by Christine Day

Edie knows that she and her mom are Native American. She knows her mom was adopted as a baby by a great couple who loved her and who died before Edie could get to know them, but she doesn't know much more about her heritage than that. While looking for the equipment to make popsicles, Edie and her two friends stumble upon a box in the attic with letters and pictures about a woman named Edith who looks a lot like Edie and went to Hollywood in the 70s. Edie's mom never has talked about knowing her biological mom and when Edie asks her parents what inspired her name, they give her vague answers. Edie is upset that they don't seem to want to tell her the truth, and she's not sure what to do about it. She's also upset that she and her two best friends can't seem to agree on what to make their summer film about. And though Serenity is faithful as always, Amelia seems distant and not fully there any more. And to top it all off, Edie is getting braces. The ending of this book is so powerful, doubly so because it is based on real stories.

Target Readers:

Family Mystery Fans, Native American Character Fans, Contemporary Fiction Fans, Friendship Story Fans, Little Known History Fans, Award Winner Readers, Middle Grade Readers

The Last Cherry Blossom by Kathleen Burkinshaw

Yuriko is a well-off girl in Hiroshima during WWII. Her father runs the newspaper. She lives with him and her aunt and younger cousin, both of whom she can only tolerate. Her best friend lives just down the street, and they like to listen to jazz secretly together. As 1945 draws closer, a lot of changes are on the way for Yuriko as her father remarries, a deep family secret comes out, and 1945 itself will change all of their lives forever when the bombs fall. This is heavily based on the author's mother's childhood. The book does a fabulous job of bringing to life what life was like for an average, upper-middle class Japanese girl during WWII.

Target Readers:

Slice of Life Story Fans, Japan Setting Fans, WWII Era Fans, Middle Grade Readers

Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood

Rooted solidly in historic fact, Hood imagines the conversations and emotions of what it was like for 13-year-old Ken Sparks and the 63 other City of Benares survivors in Lifeboat 12 after a U-boat sank the ship that was taking numerous British children to safety in Canada. Hood based a lot of this on survivor's memories.

Target Readers:

Survival Story Fans, WWII Era Fans, Novels in Verse Fans, Quick Reads Fans, Little Known History Fans, Middle Grade Readers

The Light in Hidden Places by Sharon Cameron

As WWII comes to their small town in Poland, Stefania (Fusia) Podgórska finds herself caught in the middle of the turmoil. The family she was sent to live and work for as a child is Jewish. They have treated her very well over the years, and she regards them as family. As restrictions on Jews tighten more and more, Fusia, now a teen must figure out how to survive when the family she has known and loved, including the boy she's promised to marry is sent to the ghetto, the shop they ran is closed, and it becomes increasingly clear their lives are in danger. Fusia also has her much younger sister, Helena, to care for now that her mother and some siblings have been sent to a work camp in a different country. And then some of the family asks her a question. Is she willing to hide Jews even if it means that she and Helena would be killed along with them if they are found? This book is not a biography just because the author had to imagine the dialogue and combine some side characters together. Stefania Podgórska and Helena were real people (they are the ladies on the cover of this edition of the book). All the major events really happened.

Target Readers:

Thriller Fans, WWII Era Fans, Inspirational Story Fans, Young Adult Readers

Nazi Prison Camp Escape (Great Escapes, #1) by Michael Burgan, ill. by James Bernardin

A slightly fictionalized story of real WWII pilot Bill Ash and his numerous escape attempts from Nazi POW camps. This is only categorized as fiction because the author had to imagine the dialogue and emotions of Bill in some circumstances.

Target Readers:

Thriller Fans, WWII Era Fans, Reluctant Readers, Quick Reads Fans, Middle Grade Readers

Shadow on the Mountain by Margi Preus

The story of a teenager in Norway who starts working for the resistance in small ways and then takes on more serious jobs as the occupation goes on more years. This is based on the life of a real person, Erling Storrusten, and his experiences as a teenager in WWII Norway. Preus just reimagined some of the dialogue and people and places' names. There's several pages of notes in the back of the book about what is true and what is fictional which are fascinating to read. Definitely don't stop reading when the story ends, check out the real history section too!

Target Readers:

WWII Era Fans, Norway Setting Fans, Lesser Known History Fans, Middle Grade/Young Adult Readers

The Story Collector (The Story Collector, #1) by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb

Viviani lives in the New York Public library where her father maintains the building. She's a bit obsessed with stories, maybe a little too much, and when a new girl at school starts calling her a liar for the stories she tells, Viviani sets out to prove the value of stories to this new girl a little too obsessed with the facts. Viviani cooks up an overnight that will "prove" that the library has a ghost. But none of the girls has any clue that a real mystery is unfolding that same night, and they find themselves smack in the middle of it. The book is based on a real girl who actually did live in the New York Public library with her family in the first half of the 20th century, and a real crime that happened there during that time period. The author clarifies what is true and what she made up in the back.

Target Readers:

Mystery Fans, Friendship Story Fans, New York City Setting Fans, Middle Grade Readers


Which Way Is Home? by Maria Kiely

WWII is over. Anna's family was so happy to see the Russians enter Czechoslovakia and be free of the Germans, but now they are learning that the Russians and their Communism may be even worse. Anna's family is too close to the old government. Her grandfather was a former prime minister, and her father was a Czech foreign diplomat turned spy for the Allies during the war. He hasn't been able to come home for years for fear the Germans would catch him, and now the Communists would love to get their hands on him. Anna loves life on her family's farm, playing make believe with her cousin, and the smell of fresh strawberries. But one night her aunt shows up and says Anna is to join her mother and sister in Prague for her sister's piano concert. Only that's not where they are really headed. Once she meets up with her mother and sister, Anna learns that they are escaping into Germany. It's a dangerous journey. Can they make it? Definitely read the author's note in this one. This is all based on the author's mother's experiences (who is still alive and gave feedback as the book was being written).

Target Readers:

Low Key Thriller Fans, Survival Story Fans, Czechoslovakia Setting Fans, Cold War Ear Fans, Middle Grade Readers

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Brainstorm 248: Dog Books Part 2

It’s the dogs’ last week to take over the Brainstorm. This week, as promised, we’ve got canine fiction picture books, and some of my favorite doggy graphic novels, comics, and manga. Click on the titles to see my full review for each book including any content notes/trigger warnings.

Ball by Mary Sullivan

A dog loves playing ball with his little girl. He is despondent when she has to go to school and dreams of more ball adventures. Will he ever have ball fun again?

The entire text of this book is just the word "ball" repeated with different fonts and punctuation. The rest of the story must be interpreted from the pictures.

Target Readers:

Graphic Novel Fans, Humor Fans, Pre-Readers, Readers Practicing Reading with Punctuation, Picture Book Readers

A Camping Spree with Mr Magee (Mr Magee) by Chris Van Dusen

Mr. Magee and his dog Dee decide to go camping for some peace, quiet, and rest. But when a bear with poor sight stumbles into their camp in search of delicious marshmallows things get a bit exciting.

Fun Fact: You can find Mr. Magee and Dee in the background of all Chris Van Dunsen’s picture books, not just the Mr. Magee series.

Target Readers:

Camping Story Fans, Outdoors Activity Fans, Humor Fans, Picture Book Readers

Copper by Kazu Kibuishi

Copper is an adventurous human and Fred is a cautious canine. Together they have all sorts of adventures, both mundane and out of this world. This is a collection of a bunch of short comic adventures, the longest only being a few pages long. The end of the book also has a step-by-step look at the way Kibuishi creates comics from rough sketched idea to digital files.

Target Readers:

Graphic Novel Fans, Comics Readers, Adventure Fans, Science Fiction Fans, Middle Grade Readers on up

Digging for Dinos (Haggis and Tank Unleashed, #2) by Jessica Young, ill. by James Burks

Haggis and Tank find a bone in the yard and decide to go on one epic dinosaur hunt.

Target Readers:

Adventure Fans, Pun Lovers, Graphic Novel Fans, Humor Fans, Imaginative Readers, Lower Grade Readers

A Dog Named Doug by Karma Wilson, ill. by Matt Myers

Doug is a dog who likes to dig. He might like it a bit too much. He might go a little crazy with his digging. And his digging might take him to weird and wonderful places. He out digs a prairie dog, finds treasure, gets in trouble with secret service at the White House, visits several different countries, and eventually gets scolded for digging too many holes in his own back yard. But his owners still love him.

Target Readers:

Wildly Imaginative Story Fans, Zany Adventure Fans, Humor Fans, Rhyming Story Fans, Picture Book Readers

A Dog Named Haku: a Holiday Story from Nepal by Margarita Engle with Amish Kanajit and Nicole Kanajit, ill. by Ruth Jeyaveeran

Alu and Bhalu are looking around the city of Kathmandu for a dog to feed as part of the traditions of the Festival of Lights.

Many have heard of Indian Diwali, but this is the Nepalese version of that holiday with some unique aspects. There's a note in the front of the book with a little more information about the holiday and where it is celebrated. The story is quite modern, referencing the way dogs helped save people after the earthquake that struck Kathmandu.

Target Readers:

Nepal Setting Fans, Holiday Story Fans, Picture Book Readers 

Dogs Are People, Too by Dave Coverly

A collection of Speed Bump comics that feature dogs.

Target Readers:

Comics Readers, Humor Fans, Middle Grade Readers on up

Extraordinary Jane by Hannah E. Harrison

Jane is a glaringly normal dog in a family of extraordinary circus dogs. She can’t do the things her parents or her siblings do, so she tries to find her special talent. The results vary from humorous to disastrous. Eventually, Jane and the circus master realize that Jane is best just being herself.

Target Readers:

Heartwarming Story Fans, Self-Acceptance Story Fans, Circus Setting Fans, Picture Book Readers

Gaston (Gaston and Friends) by Kelly DiPucchio, ill. by Christian Robinson

Gaston always seems a bit different from his poodle siblings, but he still loves his family and takes his mother's training to heart. So when the Poodle family meets the Bull Dog family at the park and realizes there was a terrible mistake, they decide to try and fix things. But Gaston just doesn't feel at home with the Bull Dogs, and Antoinette cannot fill Gaston's spot in the Poodle family, so the families switch back. But they all still frequently meet together at the park for fun and friendship.

Target Readers:

Ugly Duckling Adaptation Fans, Family Story Fans, Picture Book Readers

Good, Rosie by Kate DiCamillo, ill. by Harry Bliss

Rosie is a lonely dog, even though she has a loving owner. When her owner takes her to the dog park she doesn't like it at first. But then she learns how to make friends.

Target Readers:

Graphic Novel Fans, Friendship Story Fans, Shy Readers, Picture Book Readers

The Great Puppy Invasion by Alastair Heim, ill. by Kim Smith

The people of Strictville have an unprecedented emergency on their hands when puppies start showing up in town.

Target Readers:

Satire/Irony/Hyperbole Fans/Studiers, Humor Fans, Invasion Story Fans, Picture Book Readers

Happy Paws (Layla and the Bots, #1) by Vicky Fang, ill. by Christine Nishiyama

Layla and her three bots find out that Happy Days amusement park is going to close. They are very sad and decide to research where people in the community are going instead, and then come up with ideas to save the park.

Target Readers:

Problem Solving Story Fans, Robot Fans, Amusement Park Fans, STEM Story Fans, Graphic Novel Fans, Lower Grade Readers

I Love You More Than My Phone: a “Slothilda & Peanut” Comic Collection by Dante Fabiero

A collection of comics about Slothilda, her pet corgi Peanut, and the joys and eye-roll moments of pet ownership.

Target Readers:

Comic Readers, Humor Fans, Pet Owners, Readers of All Ages

Lone Wolf by Sarah Kurpiel

Maple is a husky and beloved family pet, but after hearing so many people ask her owners if she is a wolf. Maple decides she should take the opportunity an open gate provides to see if she really is a wolf.

Target Readers:

Subtle Humor Fans, Readers Wanting to Talk about Labels, Heartwarming Story Fans, Picture Book Readers

Madeline Finn and the Library Dog (Madelien Finn, #1) by Lisa Papp

Madeline Finn struggles to read. She really wants a star at school, but stars are for good readers. And Madeline always struggles. Reading is not fun. But then one week the librarian introduces Madeline to Bonnie, a dog ready to listen to her read. Bonnie doesn't judge when Madeline stumbles and doesn't laugh when she makes a mistake. With Bonnie's help, can Madeline gain enough confidence to get that elusive star?

Target Readers:

Struggling Readers, Heartwarming Story Fans, Picture Book Readers

Mega-Dogs of New Kansas by Dan Jolley, ill. by Jacques Khouri

Sienna is the daughter of a scientist and lives with her mom on the planet New Kansas. Sienna’s mom and other scientists are trying to set up a stable settlement. Her mom breeds mega-dogs to help defend a local bird species’ eggs for export from huge native lizard-like creatures called spinners. Sienna loves the dogs, especially Gus. Other kids on the base think Sienna is stuck up because she doesn’t talk to them, but they don’t know that her tongue gets tied at just the thought of talking to them. Thinking they can teach a stuck up girl a lesson, two boys plot a prank for the Vice President’s arrival that goes very wrong. Desperate to save her best friend, Sienna resorts to drastic measures to save Gus. Meanwhile, the settlement is firing up the new power plant the Vice President is there to inspect.

Target Readers:

Science Fiction Fans, Graphic Novel Fans, Survival Story Fans, Personal Growth Story Fans, Middle Grade Readers

Mellybean and the Giant Monster (Mellybean, #1) by Mike White

Mellybean has lots of energy and is a bit much for the cats in her family sometimes. When the humans are out, they decide to get Melly outside by telling her to hide a shoe REALLY well. Melly decides to bury it, but finds a hole that she falls into and takes her to a fantasy world. There, Mellybean meets a monster who is being harassed by the king's soldiers and many others. Melly decides to help her new friend, and possibly solve the rest of the problems in this place while she's at it.

Target Readers:

Humor Fans, Adventure Fans, Fantasy Fans, Graphic Novel Fans, Fans of Relentlessly Friendly Characters, Readers Needing a Good Dose of Cuteness, Middle Grade Readers (though approachable to Lower Grade Readers)

The Mutts Winter Diaries by Patrick McDonnell

A collection of Mutts comics on the topic of winter.

Target Readers:

Comics Readers, Animal Lovers, Winter Antics Fans, Readers of All Ages

The Perfect Dog by Kevin O’Malley

A little girl tries to decide which kind of dog would be perfect as her new pet.

The book repeatedly uses superlative adjectives with illustrations demonstrating these comparisons well.

Target Readers:

Kids Who Want a Pet, Families about to Adopt a Dog, Readers Learning about Superlative Adjectives, Picture Book Readers

Puppy Love (Babymouse, #8) by Jennifer L. Holm, ill. by Matthew Holm

Babymouse’s latest fish has gone to the great fish bowl in the sky and it is time for a new pet. Babymouse would love a kitten or puppy, but her parents would like her to prove her pet owner skills with something less taxing first. And boy, does she fail epically! Somehow pet after pet after pet disappears quite quickly after arriving at Babymouse’s house. Eventually her mom draws the line and says no more, but when a lost dog shows up Babymouse gets one more chance. Babymouse quickly finds that taking care of a dog is no easy feat.

Target Readers:

Humor Fans, Babymouse Fans, Kids Who Want a Pet, Graphic Novel Fans, Middle Grade Readers (though approachable to Lower Grade Readers)

Puppy’s Big Day (Bad Kitty, #8) by Nick Bruel

Bad Kitty is totally freaking out, so Uncle Murray comes over to save Puppy from the ordeal. But then Uncle Murray ends up having quite a few hiccups in puppy watching.

Target Readers:

Humor Fans, Graphic Novel Fans, Lower Grade Readers

Rescue & Jessica: a Life-Changing Friendship by Jessica Kensky & Patrick Downes, ill. by Scott Magoon

The story of how a service dog and amputee change each other's lives, told from the perspective of at first a service dog in training and a girl who is a recent amputee because of an accident who eventually meet.

This is a fictionalized story based on a true one. The real Jessica was an adult when she was injured in the Boston Marathon bombing. The Jessica in the story is depicted as a young teenager with a little brother and parents, and it just says she had a bad accident. You also get to hear thoughts from both Rescue and Jessica so the book is a little fantastical. The story still shows how a service dog can really help someone though. There's a little on the real Jessica and Rescue in the back of the book.

Target Readers:

Biographical Fiction Fans, Service Dog Fans, Feel-Good Story Fans, Picture Book Readers

Roy Digs Dirt by David Shannon

Roy is a dog who is a bit obsessed with dirt. He LOVES dirt. He especially loves digging in dirt.

Target Readers:

Humor Fans, Pet Owners, Fans of Dirt Fun, Picture Book Readers

Salty Dogs by Matty Long

The Salty Dogs are fearsome pirates but they are having a little trouble finding treasure with all the other pirates in the area. They have one last hope. A treasure they left on Crossbone Island. But can they get there before the other pirates?

Like Long's other picture books there can be quite a lot going on in just one spread and often those large spreads have a subtle prompt in something someone says for a hide and seek challenge (i.e. if someone says they lost something, you can find it somewhere on the page).

Target Readers:

Pirate Story Fans, Picture Puzzle Fans, Adventure Fans, Lower Grade Readers

Silver Spoon Vol. 5 (Silver Spoon) by Hiromu Arakawa, trans. by Amanda Haley

Hachiken finds a dog during the school clean up and they decide to keep it to guard the stables. But Hachiken has a lot to learn about training a dog, so he does what he does best and studies. The students at Ezo Ag are gearing up for the big festival they put on, and Hachiken's great ability to be responsible and unable to say no may mean he's overcommitted himself...just a bit. He's also trying to learn how to jump in equestrian club but can't seem to make his horse cooperate.

Target Readers:

Manga Fans, Contemporary Fiction Fans, Boarding School Story Fans, Humor Fans, Farm Life Story Fans, Those Curious about Where Food Comes From, Japan Setting Fans, Young Adult Readers

Stormy: a Story about Finding a Forever Home by Guojing

A wordless picture book about a shy, homeless puppy, and a kind woman who keeps trying to befriend the puppy, but isn't able to fully connect until a big storm.

Target Readers:

Wordless Book Fans, Feel Good Story Fans, Animal Adoption Story Fans, Art Lovers, Picture Book Readers

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Marvel's Oz, #1) based on the book by L. Frank Baum, adapted by Eric Shanower, ill. by Skottie Young

A graphic novel version of the classic children's story about Dorothy's first adventures in Oz with the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion. In case you're not familiar with these: Dorothy and gang are all off to see the Wizard of Oz and get his help for their various problems (real and imagined). Oz tells them he'll help them after the Wicked Witch of the West is no longer an issue (thinking that will never happen). And then, Dorothy and gang do the impossible. Oz makes up things to give the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Lion after they expose him for being a humbug. He makes a hot air balloon to sail over the great desert with Dorothy, but the balloon takes off before Dorothy gets in. So Dorothy and gang go on another adventure to go find the Good Witch of the South and see if she can help Dorothy get home.

This version is extremely true to the original, often copying sections of text word for word, and making sure to keep the original elements instead of Hollywood elements. The style of writing Baum used originally lends itself well to graphic novel format, and putting it in graphic novel format helps make the sometimes simplistic and cheesy text feel more natural. Young's illustrations are a perfect blend of whimsical and kid friendly, and make the story that much better. And obviously, Toto is a big part of the story and why this book is being included in with the dogs books.

Target Readers:

Quest Story Fans, Adventure Fans, Fantasy Fans, Graphic Novel Fans, Classic Fans, Middle Grade Readers