Robot Dreams

March 11, 2009

robotdreamsI first heard about this 2007 graphic novel by Sara Varon at ALA in Anaheim last summer.  The cover looks so friendly, and I love bright crisp illustrations, so I decided to give it a try.  Here’s the plot:  Dog orders and builds Robot.  They soon decide to take a trip to the beach, where Robot discovers he cannot move after playing in the water with Dog.  Dog leaves Robot on the beach.  Months pass, and they both contemplate what happened and experience separate things.

The plot of Robot Dreams seems like it would be sad and dramatic because of the ill-fated friendship, and occasionally it was, but for the most part, it mostly came across humorous and disturbing.  There were several unsettling moments beginning with Dog abandoning Robot at the beach.  I expected the book to be happy-go-lucky, but it certainly wasn’t.  Maybe if you go into it knowing that, you’ll be able to appreciate the story for what it was.

I did enjoy the illustrations, and I would recommend it as long as you know what to expect.  I know the book is very popular, and I’m interested to hear if anyone else agrees with me.


Kristy’s Great Idea

May 24, 2008

You can probably tell that I’m still in my graphic-novel phase, and when I found out there were graphic-novel versions of the first few books in the Baby-sitters Club series by Ann M. Martin, I knew I would be reading them as soon as I could. This is the first in the original series and the first in the graphic-novel series. I really enjoyed seeing the characters I love to read about in picture form. Raina Telgemeier did a great job adapting the story and drawing the characters. The novels are drawn in black and white, which did not bother me as I read, but now that I think about it, seeing them in color would have been more fun. Unlike the Nancy Drew graphic novel I reviewed last time, these books are true to the original stories. I’m glad Scholastic is re-issuing the books in this form. I really enjoyed them when I was younger (and still enjoy them today), and I’m happy young girls will get to meet Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, and Stacey. There will be four books total: Kristy’s Great Idea, The Truth About Stacey, Mary Anne Saves the Day, and Claudia and the Mean Janine.


The Demon of River Heights

May 16, 2008

This is the first book in the Nancy Drew Graphic Novel series. I was pretty excited when I picked it up since I always enjoyed reading Nancy Drew. Instead of being a recreation of the original first Nancy Drew book (The Secret of the Old Clock) this one is a modern story. I understand wanting to create contemporary characters for today’s young readers, but I missed the old Nancy, Bess, and George. The mystery was still there, though more technological with the use of cellphones and investigation of a filming crew’s disappearance. However, my least favorite aspect of the book: Modern Nancy Drew cannot remember to put gas in her car! I’m pretty sure Original Nancy Drew always remembered to fill up her blue roadster.

This is definitely worth a read – or maybe look since it’s a graphic novel and has more pictures than words. If this is how young readers today are introduced to Nancy Drew, it’s not a bad thing. I will be reading more.


Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel

April 24, 2008

Not only was this my first exposure to the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer but also to the typical style of graphic novels. Colfer creates a fascinating world of reality and fantasy where fairies, dwarves, goblins, and centaurs exist. However, I was most surprised by the human main character Artemis. He’s a 12-year-old boy genius, rich, extremely knowledgeable of technology, smart-alecky, and generally not a good guy. In this first book of the series, Artemis (and his private bodyguard, Butler) manipulate, threaten, even kidnap a fairy for gold. Another surprise for me in this book was the shift in point of view. Even though the series is about Artemis, readers are still able to hear the thoughts of the secondary characters, which, for me, created even less loyalty for Artemis. Still, the book is plot-driven with a lot of action, which I enjoy. Fans of Artemis Fowl would probably enjoy the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz, and vice versa.

Although I didn’t wholeheartedly enjoy the story, I did like the graphic novel version of it. Sometimes I have a difficult time visualizing as I read, so the graphic novel allowed me to give my brain a break, especially since the graphic novel is not very text heavy. Reading this has inspired me to check out other series in graphic-novel form, including Nancy Drew and The Baby-sitter’s Club. I’ll review those soon.


The Arrival

March 5, 2008

Of the 25 children’s books I read for Resources for Children this week, The Arrival by Shaun Tan was my favorite. As soon as I figure out where Barnes and Noble shelves it, I’ll own a copy. The Arrival is a wordless graphic novel; the story of a father and husband traveling to a foreign place to make a better life for his family is told through beautiful sepia pencil drawings. Tan alternates between large drawings and series of smaller “film strip”-like images to capture the feeling of alienation, confusion, and longing.

Although The Arrival is essentially a picture book, the concept and subtle detail of the drawings may be best for slightly older ages. Since its publication in 2007, it has already received numerous honors, including New York Times Best Illustrated Book of 2007, Horn Book Fanfare Book of 2007, and ALA’s Notable Children’s Book of 2008.

Rating (out of 5): 5+