Opening lines: Grunhilda the Black Heart: "For generations and generations, the women in my family have stirred up trouble in a big, black pot. / Needs more eye of newt./ Still bland. / My great-great-great-great-great-great- great-great / -great grandmother.../ invented the.../ recipe for;;;/ Haansel-and Gretel pie. "
This graphic novel is about the unlikely friends that develops between a witch who gets a job as a cafeteria lady and a girl named Madison who is in danger of flunking out of school. When a spell goes awry and Madison gets turned into a toad, it is up the the witch to save her, over the protests of her dead ancestors who are angry that the witch is trying to help someone. This book might contain a theme or two, but mostly it is just a fun story.
The illustrations are grey and angular and no one in the story is pleasant to look at. It is a funny book at times, and the caricature nature of the illustrations might contribute a bit to that, but generally it seems to ma the at the words and images are not always supporting each other the way I might hope they would.
This book is probably best for third grade and up. There is nothing particularly offensive in it. The book does use the word "turd" once and the illustrations are creepy and grey. The Witch character is neither admirable nor the sort of person readers would want to emulate. She gets fired in the first five pages, then accepts the job as lunch lady only because she needs to be able to feed her pet bats. Her spellcasting is often incompetent. It is hard to imagine someone arguing that reading this book would lead any students in the direction of witchcraft -- it seems far more likely it would convince students of the value of getting a good job. There is nothing truly problematic here.
Stevenson, Noelle; Ellis, Grace; Brooke; Allen (2015) Lumberjanes: Beware the Kitten Holy. Los Angeles: Boom Box.
Opening Lines: Gasp/ Rustle, Rustle / Aaaahhhhh Aaaaahhhhh. Aaaa. / Mal, Molly, What in the Joan Jett are you doing?
The Lumberjanes are kind of like girl scouts -- except that the Lumberjanes are friends that fight three-eyed saber-toothed foxes, river monsters, evil eagles, yetis, and possessed boy scouts. There is usually a mystery to be solved, and each of the girls contributes toward solving it.
This graphic novels was originally released as a regular run comic book, but the issues are here recast as chapters (each of which begins with a parodic page from the Lumberjanes' Handbook.) and it works better than most rebound regular run collections.
This is not a story that is going to have deep themes, character development, or one that will contribute to a profound understanding of our purpose in the world. Themes of friendship and cooperation are present, but not really developed in a serious way. I loved that there was some cryptography in the book and a few references to things like the Fibonacci sequence -- but these are not exactly common.
As you can see from the cover, the illustrations are cartoony and fun. The story can be a little hard to follow, though, and at first it is kind of difficult to identify each character's uniquenesses in the midst of the frenetic fight scenes. Eventually though, readers will catch on.
This one is perhaps best for fourth grade and up (I know some high school students who are fans) and probably more interesting to females than males. They are unlikely to be challenged, partly because Stevenson and Ellis use the time honored comic book tradition of substituting made up oaths for more vulgar terms. In this case, the girls tend to say things like "What the Mae Jamison is going on?' -- substituting famous females for oaths.
This is a fun series and may be just the thing for getting some reluctant readers who liked Babymouse and the like when they were younger to pick up a book again.
Stevenson, Noelle; Ellis, Grace; Brooke; Allen (2015) Lumberjanes: Friendship to the Max. Los Angeles: Boom Box.
Opening lines: huff huff huff huff/// Jo! Where are you? / I'm over here. Where are you? // Jo, hurry! / I'm coming! Hold on!
In the second book of the series, the Lumberjanes fight insane dinosaurs, befriend a were bear, and deal with the fact that one of their number may be magical, evil, and or a Greek goddess.
As with the previous book, this one contains a lot of adventure and action, and would be a good addition to a classroom library, but there isn't enough here to focus on as a reading circle book or a book to study in class.