Flash Review: Witches of Brooklyn by Sophie Escabasse

By Maureen Tai, 20 June 2021

Witches of Brooklyn (ages 8+) is the delightful debut graphic novel by French illustrator Sophie Escabasse. Newly orphaned Effie is unceremoniously dumped at the beautiful three-storey house belonging to her aunts, Selimene and Carlota. If living with relatives she barely knew existed wasn’t bad enough, Effie has to deal with a new school and grapple with a terrifying new reality – that like her aunts, she too is a witch! Effie’s latent magical powers and inner strength are slowly revealed in this enjoyable story, packed with a host of memorable characters who each harbour their own little secrets. The gorgeously coloured illustrations are masterfully executed, each page full of movement, interesting details and thoughtful character depictions; from little Effie’s Asian features and updated anime bun style hairdo to Aunt Selimene’s pugnacious nose and jutting chin and Aunt Carlota’s teeny tiny pince-nez and softly plump figure. A lovely read that will appeal especially to little girls (and their mums) who secretly wish for magical powers!

Flash Review: Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

By Maureen Tai, 13 June 2021

Love That Dog (ages 8+) is a delightful verse novel, written as a series of diary-like ruminations of a (likely 10-year old) boy called Jack. We learn that Jack is a reluctant poet. Through his eyes, we see his teacher Miss Stretchberry, persisting. She shares different forms and styles of poetry and encourages Jack to explore poetry as a way of connecting with his emotions and telling life stories. Through his writing, we see Jack change as he becomes more comfortable with words, as he’s able to confront the raw, poignant truth about his beloved dog, Sky and as he’s able to share his story not just with his classmates but with a bona fide, real poet and author – the incredible Walter Dean Myers (1937-2014). This beautifully written, gently humorous and deeply thoughtful middle grade story (short! coming in at 86 pages) is signature Creech and one to treasure, whether you’re a poet or not (or if you just didn’t know it).

Flash Review: The Cat Who Came In Off The Roof by Annie M.G. Schmidt

By Maureen Tai, 6 June 2021

At its heart, middle-grade novel The Cat Who Came In Off The Roof (ages 9+) by Dutch author, Annie M.G. Schmidt is a love story. Mr. Tibbles is a cat-loving reporter who has run out of stories. Minou is a cat-like young lady who has odd behavioural traits. They meet. Or more accurately, Mr. Tibbles saves Minou from an angry dog. Minou moves in (sleeping in a box in Tibble’s junk room). Mr. Tibbles becomes privy to interesting news, relayed by Minou and gathered from a network of feline sources. They solve a crime together. And yes, they fall in love. While this book – written half a century ago – features mostly adult protagonists (almost unheard of now for middle grade books), they are charming, interesting and whimsical enough to appeal to young children. Cat lovers in particular, will adore the memorable cast of cat characters, from the brazen Tatter Cat to the rather clueless History Cat to the rotund Metropole Cat. A short, fun read for the summer.

SUMMER 2021: THE DEFINITIVE GRAPHIC NOVEL LIST FOR TEENS & YA (13+ YRS OLD)

By Maureen and Anna, 6 June 2021

Following on from our Definitive Graphic Novel List for Middle Graders (8-12 years old), we’ve come up with our definitive list of Graphic Novels for Teens and Young Adults (13+ years old). The list includes old favourites, but also recent releases, and some, but not all, have been reviewed on our blog. While we enjoy sci-fi and fantasy, a genre well-represented in the graphic novel/comic world, there are many non-fictional and biographical graphic novels that have captivated us. Many, out of historical interest, are about the Jewish experience during WW2.

Unlike the middle grade list, some of the graphic novels on this list cover mature or challenging topics and include the odd expletive (or two or three). Please check out online book reviews such as https://www.commonsensemedia.org/ or feel free to ask in the comment box below if you wish to know more about any particular titles.

To keep it concise, we’ve only included one graphic novel from each author/illustrator – he or she may have many others that you can also explore (for example, Tillie Walden’s Spinning is also excellent).

We hope you’ll discover some new graphic novels to try out this summer. Happy reading!

Maureen and Anna