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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Three Graphic Novels Girls Might Like

Telgemeier, Raina (2014)  Sisters  New York: Scholastic.

This is a story that moves forward and backward at the same time.  In one part of the story, Raina's mom has to drive the family van (along with Raina and her younger sister Amara) from California to Colorado, where her dad has a new job.  This means that Raina and Amara will need to spend many hours together in the van -- which will be difficult since most of the time they act like they can't stand each other. 

The second story looks back at when Amara was born and how Raina's initial excitement about having a baby sister slowly turned to disenchantment and eventually bitterness.

On the road trip they need to deal with breakdowns, desert heat, and even an escaped snake.  Raina learns that as frustrating as it is for her to live with a little sister, from her sister's perspective, it is at least as frustrating to live with Raina, and while the book does not end with an idyllic relationship between the two girls, things are better.

Nothing really objectionable in this story.   It would be ideal for strong third grade readers through maybe seventh graders.  My fifth grade daughter loved it and reread it several times during the first week we had it in the house. Thematically it falls just short of really being suitable for classroom study (though I think it could work as an option for reading groups).  It would be an ideal addition to a classroom library.

Larson,. Hope (2006)  Grey Horses Portland:  Oni Press.

Noemie comes to America from France to study.  As a young student in Chicago, she meets friends, learns to find her way around.  She also finds herself dreaming of horses almost every night.  She and her new friend Anna notice that they is a young guy who keeps taking Noemie's picture. Noemie is intrigued but misses her French boyfriend (with whom she recently broke up).  While the ending is not conclusive, the story has a lyrical beauty that is likely to capture the attention of high school girls particularly well. 

Probably not enough thematically here for this book to stand up to the focus of a unit or anything (though a unit focusing on several of Hope Larson's book might be worth studying).  This book would work for a short reading group and is sure to be a good addition to a classroom library. There was nothing here that seemed objectionable for parents.

Dauvillier, Loic; Lizano, Marc; Salsedo, Greg (2012) Hidden  New York:  First Second.

When Elsa has a nightmare in the middle of the night, her Grandmother Dounia sits up with her and eventually tells Elsa the story of her own nightmare -- growing up in Paris during the Nazi occupation of World War Two.  Dounia tells Elsa how school changed, how she lost her parents, and how she was hidden by the resistance.  There are plenty of close calls and scary moments, but because Elsa is hearing the story from her grandma, we know that the story will turn out in the end.  The story is often gripping, often moving, and an interesting story to read. 

Although most of the characters in the book are children (who seem to be six or seven), the story is perhaps best for fourth grade and up because of the background knowledge necessary to make sense of some of the references.  This could be paired with other holocaust literature -- everything from Number the Stars to Night to Maus.  Although, of course, many of the realities of the holocaust are horribly offensive, I doubt many parents would object to this particular book. It is worth a look. 

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