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in the stacks: New graphic novels for kids

Posted: October 13, 2011 - 12:02am  |  Updated: October 13, 2011 - 12:07am

New graphic novels for kids include the latest in Kibuishi’s Amulet series, the second installment in the Castle Waiting series, and graphic novelizations ofThe Amulet of Samarkand and Excalibur: the legend of King Arthur.

“The Saga of Rex,” by Michel Gagne.

Cheerful and curious young Rex, an otherworldly fox, is taken from his home planet to another where he meets his soulmate and has adventures in the constantly morphing otherworld. If this sounds familiar, it’s because Rex was first serialized in Flight, but here his stories are finally collected together. If you skip the first chapter (and I advise you do – it is an attempt to explain the whys and wherefors which I found distracting and unhelpful), you’ll have a delightfully wordless imaginative romp through landscapes reminiscent of Shaun Tan’s work, but with a sweeter sensibility.

“The Littlest Pirate King,” by David B., based on a story by Pierre Mac Orlan.

This odd, but entrancing offering from French cartoonist David B. features the dead crew of the Flying Dutchman, still going through the motions of pirating despite being unable to enjoy the fruits of their labor. One day they witness the destruction of an ocean liner and rescue a baby from the wreckage, deciding to keep him alive until he turns 10 (when he will make a fine cabin boy in the afterlife). It’s fun to catch glimpses of the men the ghost pirates were and to watch their outlook change from bitterness to excitement as they raise the boy they call Tiny King, but sobering to realize Tiny King’s 10th birthday is approaching. Will the pirates really turn Tiny King into the eternal cabin boy he wishes to be?

“The Odyssey,” by Gareth Hinds; and “The Odyssey,” by Tim Mucci, both based on Homer’s epic poem.

Here is the classic story of a man who has gone to war, fought well, and now just wants to go home. The gods, however, have different ideas and throw many obstacles in Odysseus’s path, and 20 years pass before he sees his wife and son again — and, even when he does return home, he’s almost immediately compelled to pick up weapons. Hinds, well-known for his graphic adaptations of Shakespeare’s classics, and Mucci are drawing for different audiences. Hinds’ version could be read by high schoolers looking for subtleties, familiar quotes, and closer adherence to the plot. Mucci is more colorful, energetic, and is paced more like a modern adventure story, and is fine introduction to this classic for older elementary and middle-school readers.

G-Man: Learning to Fly, by Chris Giarrusso.

Mikey and his big brother Dave are in constant competition, whether they are arguing about belongings or trying to get each other in trouble with Dad. When they join the ranks of superheroes, they’re still arguing, but they’re also watching each other’s backs, even as they push back against the bullying Kid Thunder, trying to outsmart Mr. Mental, or even their Mom, who is trying to get them to finish dinner before saving the world. Made up of many short stories and single-page jokes, this has great running gags (Dad’s preoccupation with the lawn), exciting superhero antics, and plenty of flying.

“Zita the Spacegirl,” by Ben Hatke.

Who can resist pushing a big red button? Zita can’t! Something opens up in the air, tentacles come out, and her best friend Joseph is grabbed up and taken away. Shaken and guilty, Zita bravely presses the button again, jumps into the something herself and finds herself on a world that’s counting the days until an asteroid hits and destroys them all. With the help of a giant mouse creature, a tube of doorpaste, an inventor named Piper, and a rusty robot, she sets off to save Joseph and get back home before disaster strikes.

•••

Author Alert: Join library staff in welcoming Ana Maria Spagna, who will read from her latest book of essays (“Potluck: Community on the edge of wilderness”) at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 14, at the downtown library. And – register now (carolr@juneau.org) for a writing workshop with Spagna at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, at the downtown library, where she will focus on the power of telling more than one story in personal narratives.

The deadline for the bookmark contest is fast approaching. Turn in your entries to any branch of the Juneau Public Libraries this weekend.

For information about our upcoming programs, or to place a hold on any of our material, please visit us at www.juneau.org/library or call us at 586-5249.

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