‘Your Pal Fred’ by Michael Rex is a thrilling graphic novel with a powerful message for young readers

I first became acquainted with Michael Rex’s work when I read and reviewed his clever picture book, “Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots.” I loved using that book with my students, teaching them about the difference between facts and opinions. So when I read his latest endeavor, “Your Pal Fred,” I had high expectations. This graphic novel did not disappoint, and to be honest, that surprised me. You see, many graphic novels confuse me. I get bewildered by those with many characters who all seem—at least to my senior eyes—to look somewhat alike. I did not have that problem with “Your Pal Fred” as each character is clearly and cleverly delineated. It’s very clear who each of the characters are and what they represent. The dialogue and the illustrations make this story about friendship and kindness accessible and enjoyable to read.

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‘New Kid’ by Jerry Craft is a graphic novel that is perfect for middle grade and young adult readers who are finding their place in the world


hew kid

In “New Kid,” Jerry Craft introduces Jordan Banks, a wanna-be artist and seventh grader who is starting at a new school, a fancy private school. It’s called Riverdale Academy Day School (RAD) and it’s exclusive, prestigious, and filled with mostly rich white kids, all of which Jordan is not. Each new student gets a “guide,” and Jordan is lucky — his guide is  Liam, a kid who, while rich and white, really needs a friend.

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Children’s chapter book round up: From graphic novels to roadkill – a year in review


Start the new year right — get some of 2018’s (and one 2019 new release) middle grade books for the young reader in your life. There is a wide range of titles that will appeal to many different readers.

Graphic novels are high in interest and many children who aren’t interested in reading text-only chapter books love the illustrations and fast-moving pace of these books. There are several 2018 releases that include graphic novels and books with many illustrations along with text, mimicking the feel of a graphic novel. Continue reading

Summer Comic Books that Will Keep You (and Your Kids) Learning: ‘Action Presidents’ Series


Shhh. Don’t tell the kids, but when they start reading and laughing out loud at the humor in the “Action Presidents #1: George Washington” and “Action Presidents #2: Abraham Lincoln,” they will be learning a bunch of history at the same time. Real history — history presented in a graphic novel format that’s humor-filled and easy-to-understand.

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‘Marty Pants: Keep Your Paws Off!’ by Mark Parisi Perfect for Young Readers


“Marty Pants: Keep Your Paws Off!” by Mark Parisi is the perfect book for readers who enjoy “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” And, of course, every boy between the ages of seven and seventeen loves the “Diary” books, so this book should be an easy sell.

In this second book in the series, Marty thinks he’s turning into a werewolf. The story shows him going through stages of being certain the changes are happening and then thinking it’s not true. As Marty goes through his day at home with his older sister, and then at school on picture day, readers will smile and laugh out loud at the situations in which Marty finds himself.

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‘Dog Man’ graphic novel by Dav Pilkey will entertain young readers big-time


Dav Pilkey is notorious for books that young boys adore, and with “Dog Man,” he cements his place of honor as the author who can lure even kids who don’t like to read and get them to read. In fact, they will devour “Dog Man” in one sitting. Really.

One seven-year-old boy who would rather play video games than read was hooked by this book after this reviewer read the first part to him out loud. He read the whole book by the next afternoon and is excited about the sequel. This book is guaranteed to get the attention of even the most reluctant reader.

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‘Nimona’ by Noelle Stevenson: Gripping graphic novel for young adult readers


Rating: 5 stars

“Nimona” by Noelle Stevenson is her debut graphic novel based on the popular web comic series. One caveat first, this reviewer rarely reads graphic novels. In fact, when this one arrived in the mail, it went in a bag for reading several months in the future. But one day, I opened it to the middle and just started reading.

I couldn’t put the book down. I stopped reading, turned back to the first page, and was pulled into a story where the “good guy” is not necessarily the good guy and the “bad guy” might just really be the good guy. Add in a super-evil sidekick, evil directors and other crazy characters, and this is a really good story.

Although the publisher recommends this for kids 13 and older, it seems to this reviewer (and teacher) that there is really nothing in appropriate in the story for children as young as eleven.

This is a great choice for reluctant readers and for those who enjoy super-hero stories. Lots of thoughtful discussion could be had regarding the character traits of the main characters and about protagonists and antagonists.

This review is based on the advance review copy of the book provided by HarperTeen, the publisher.