Thursday, September 24, 2020

Brainstorm 218: New, Lesser Known, and Up & Coming Comics

If you’re looking for a little dose of humor in your life, I’ve got some comics for you today. I’m branching out beyond the typical Peanuts, Garfield, FoxTrot, and Calvin & Hobbes to bring you some of the newer, lesser known, or up and coming comics today. You can find many of these comics online, but the books often contain a few that are never posted digitally.

Birding Is My Favorite Video Game by Rosemary Mosco

A collection of comics about the natural world that combine real information and touches of humor.

Target Readers:

Bird Lovers, Curious Readers, Random Fact Sponges, Comic Readers, Adult Readers (though approachable for middle grade on up)


Book Love by Debbie Tung

A collection of comics that express the sentiments of a quintessential bibliophile.

Target Readers:

Book Lovers, Adult Readers (though approachable for middle grade on up)


Cat’s Café by Matt Tarpley

A collection of comics about Cat who runs a café, provides for the caffeine needs of others, but more importantly provides a safe place where everyone can be real, get emotional support, and connect with others.

Target Readers:

Coffee Addicts, Feel Good Comic Fans, Emotional Health Comic Fans, Animal Lovers, Cute Art Fans, Friendship Story Fans, Middle Grade Readers on up


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:

Dog Lovers, Adventure Fans, Imaginative Readers, Middle Grade Readers on up


Heart and Brain (Heart and Brain, #1) by Nick Seluk

Brain is the down to earth realist who knows what needs to be done and what should be done, while Heart is the dreamer and follows his emotions. Heart may get Brain in trouble sometimes but also tries to get Brain to let go of his worries a little more. Together, they're a delightful comic duo. And other organs of the body make cameo appearances.

Target Readers:

Emotional Health Comic Fans, Human Anatomy Humor Fans, Personality Humor Fans, Adult Readers (though approachable for middle grade on up)


Hey Sodapop, by James Point Du Jour

A collection of comics about Sodapop, a French bull dog, Em, the woman who rescued him from the shelter, and their life together.

Target Readers:

Pet Owners, Dog Lovers (especially French Bull Dog fans), Fans of Garfield or Mutts or Peanuts Looking for More Comics, Humor Fans, All Ages of Readers


Loading Penguin Hugs: Heartwarming Comics from Chibird by Jacqueline Chen

A collection of one page comics that will help brighten a bad day, add a little cuteness in your life, encourage you to grow or enjoy the little blessings in life, motivate you, give your perfectionistic or procrastinating tendencies some redirection, give your self-esteem a little pick me up, or just encourage you to keep working hard.

Target Readers:

Motivational Comic Fans, Emotional Health Comic Fans, Feel Good Comic Fans, Cute Art Fans, Those Needing an Emotional Boost, All Ages of Readers


Ozy and Millie by Dana Simpson

Dana Simpson’s Phoebe and Her Unicorn comics are wildly popular in our school and around the world judging by how it is now on its 12th book. (And for good reason. If you haven’t read any of those go do yourself a favor and pick up a collection.) But did you know Dana Simpson has another comic? Ozy and Millie is a collection of comics featuring two young school-aged foxes, Ozy and Millie. The two are self-avowed nerds, often have philosophical discussions but usually digress into silliness, and are set straight from their questionable ideas by Ozy’s adopted father who is a dragon, Millie’s mother, and their teacher Ms. Sorkowitz. 

Target Readers:

Calvin & Hobbes or FoxTrot Fans Looking for More Comics, Humor Fans, Middle Grade Readers on up


Sad Animal Babies by Brooke Barker

A collection of quick factual comics about baby animals. In the back of the book is further information about each sad animal baby fact. 

Target Readers:

Curious Readers, Animal Lovers, Random Fact Sponges, Middle Grade Readers on up

Strange Planet (Strange Planet, #1) by Nathan W. Pyle

A collection of comics about everyday life from the viewpoint of aliens using creative vocabulary. It's kind of amazing how just using creative vocabulary to describe everyday experiences can give you some poignant realizations and a new perspective. As well as some good laughs. Trying to describe these comics won't do them any justice. Go find some and enjoy. It's safe for all ages, and will build vocabulary and help you practice using semantics and pictorial context clues to find meaning. 

Target Readers:

Puzzle Lovers, Everyday Experience Comic Fans, Humor Fans, Adult Readers (though approachable for middle grade on up)

Wallace the Brave (Wallace the Brave, #1) by Will Henry

A collection of comics featuring Wallace, a precocious and imaginative boy somewhere in between 8 and 12. He lives with his parents in a house on stilts in the seaside town of Snug Harbor. He has a slightly disturbing little brother named Sterling with a predilection for eating insects. His best friend is Spud, a much more cautious child who provides Wallace with a much-needed straight man. Spud is head over heels in love with the daring and somewhat intimidating Amelia who is more likely to give someone a rock in the face than a kiss. Together they entertain the masses with their daily escapades.

Target Readers:

Peanuts or FoxTrot or Calvin & Hobbes Fans Looking for More Comics, Humor Fans, Imaginative Adventure (and Misadventure) Fans, Middle Grade readers on up

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Brainstorm 217: Unusual Elevator Rides

You don’t usually need seatbelts for elevator rides, but you might want to consider one for the elevators in today’s Brainstorm. The three books I’m sharing today feature some weird, wild, and highly unusual elevators. 

Charlie & the Great Glass Elevator (Charlie Bucket, #2) by Roald Dahl

In this sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie, Willy Wonka, and Grandpa have one wild adventure to space and beyond via Wonka’s elevator.

Target Readers:

Humor Fans, Fantasy Fans, Adventure Fans, Middle Grade Readers

Lift by Minh Lê, ill. by Dan Santat

Iris is the elevator button pusher. It is her job until her little brother betrays her one day. Iris isn't happy. At all. But then she sees something the elevator repairman threw out, takes it home, and discovers a wondrous new thing that's all her own. Iris enjoys her fantastic journeys, but maybe things are even more enjoyable when shared.

Target Readers:

Those Who MUST Push the Elevator Buttons, Imaginative Readers, Fantasy Fans, Sibling Story Fans, Travel Story Fans, Santat Art Fans, Picture Book Readers

The Shadow Cipher (York, #1) by Laura Ruby

The Morningstarr twins revolutionized NYC with their inventions in the late 1700s/early 1800s, and then they disappeared but left a cipher behind in the newspaper promising a treasure to whoever found it. In the past 200 years many have tried to solve the cipher, but no one has succeeded. Tess and Theo Biedermann have lived all their lives in one of the Morningstarr buildings (which features a very unusual elevator important to the story). When a rich developer purchases their building suddenly and gives the residents one month to clear out, everyone is floored. They though they would live in this quirky building forever. Tess and Theo, together with their neighbor Jaime decide that the best solution to their sudden homing crisis is to solve the cipher. But if no one has had success in 200 years, can three tweens really have a chance?

Target Readers:

Puzzle & Code Crackers, Treasure Hunt Fans, Steampunk Fans, NYC Locale Fans, Mystery Fans, Twin Character Fans, Adventure Fans, Middle Grade Readers on up

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Brainstorm 216: Pediatric Cancer in Kid's Lit

This month our school is holding a fundraiser to raise awareness and support for pediatric cancer. We do this yearly, and I always think I should do a Brainstorm on pediatric cancer but I just realized I’ve never actually done one. This year, the fundraiser is particularly poignant since we have a student battling pediatric cancer himself. So it's time to actually do this. Here are several books with characters battling pediatric cancer. Click on the titles to see my full review if I've read the book. If I haven't it'll lead you to a longer summary and other reviews on GoodReads.

The Complete Story of Sadako Sasaki and the Thousand Cranes by Sue DiCicco & Masashiro Sasaki

A biography of Sadako Sasaki, a twelve year old girl who battled leukemia after the bombing of Hiroshima. Written with the help of her brother.

Target Readers:

Biography Fans, Japanese History Fans, WWII History Buffs, Middle Grade Readers

The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart

Mark is disheartened when he hears that the cancer is back again. He’s so tired of fighting. So he heads off to climb Mt. Rainier with his dog and doesn’t tell anyone but his best friend. Jessie must wrestle with burden Mark has left her with and decide what the best thing to do 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.

Target Readers:

Contemporary Fiction Fans, Survival Story Fans, Friendship Story Fans, Readers studying Symbolism in Literature, Fans of Lyrical Writing, Middle Grade Readers


Mustaches for Maddie by Chad Morris & Shelly Brown

The story of a 12 year old girl with normal issues whose life is thrown upside down when she learns she has a brain tumor, and how her community rallies around her. Based on a true story of the authors' daughter. 

I haven't read this one yet, mostly because it is constantly checked out by our middle school students. They LOVE this story.

Target Readers:

Contemporary Fiction Fans, Fantastic Community Story Fans, Biographical Fiction Fans, Middle Grade Readers


Stargazing by Jen Wang

Christine’s life is turned a little upside down when her parents let a family who needs a boost live in their back house. Moon and her mom are nice people, but Moon is very different from Christine. Christine is a little wary of Moon at first. Can she be friends with this girl? Should she be friends with her? 

Without spoiling too much, I will say that one of the girls in this graphic novel ends up having pediatric cancer, and the author explains in a note in the back that this is based on her own childhood battle with cancer.

Target Readers:

Contemporary Fiction Fans, Graphic Novel Fans, Friendship Story Fans, Fans of Chinese-American Characters, Fans of Stories of Kids Who Don’t Feel Like They Fit In, Middle Grade Readers


Wink by Rob Harrell 

The story of a Ross Maloy who has a rare type of eye cancer and is going through treatments while juggling normal middle school issues. Based on the author's own experiences.

This one is sitting on the top of my to read pile. I've heard great things about it. 

Target Readers:

Contemporary Fiction Fans, Middle School Life Story Fans, Biographical Fiction Fans, Middle Grade Readers