The Cybils will be announced on Friday! That leaves me with a lot of writing and very little time to catch up with all of my Armchair Cybils-related reading. (I had forgotten that I knew I wouldn’t be able to write on Monday, and then my graphic novel order took all day yesterday.) I’d started out in January having read two of the seven finalists in the middle grade graphic novel category, and now I am halfway through the last of them. My son was also interested in this category, and he’s read four of the finalists with me. Here’s the summary:
Bluffton by Matt Phelan. Candlewick, 2013.
Maybe I need to get over thinking that my kids won’t like quiet books – I put off checking this book out for my son because I thought that summer vacations a century ago might not be interesting enough, even if it’s set in our home state of Michigan. It’s Muskegon, 1908, and young Henry Harrison does think that life is boring. That all changes when he starts hanging out with the vaudeville kids who are spending their summers in Bluffton on Lake Michigan, a short trolley ride away. There’s baseball, fishing, pranks, and getting to know Buster Keaton. Henry is fictional, but the tales of their exploits are based on Keaton’s autobiography. The watercolor and ink art is beautiful, capturing Keaton as well as the bright sunsets and fireworks over the lake, while winters fade to shades of gray. There’s a beautiful line from Henry’s father: “Don’t worry so much about what you are going to do, Henry. Concentrate on who you are going to be.” We both loved this book, and it’s also led to an interest in watching Buster Keaton films, which he finds so funny that he’s still laughing ten minutes after they finish.
Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite. by Barry Deutsch. Read the full review – but this is a series that we really love.
March: Book 1 by John Lewis. My full review – I should read it to my son, as well. It deserves the acclaim it’s been getting – a Coretta Scott King Honor, an ALA Best Book, a YALSA Best Book for Teens, listed on at least ten Best Books of 2013 lists.
Monster on a Hill by Rob Harrell. Top Shelf, 2013.
This was the first finalist the boy and I read together. In 1860s England, every village worth its salt has its own monster – good both for thrills as they make the occasional mild rampage through the village, but also for protecting it from truly scary monsters. Unfortunately for Stoker-on-Avon, their monster hasn’t been seen out of his cave for ages. When the town’s scientist and urchin newsboy go to investigate, they find that monster Rayburn is depressed and has a very bad inferiority complex. Can they rouse him before it’s too late? It’s short on diversity, as the humans are both white and male – but that doesn’t negate the off-beat charm. It was listed on a large number of ALA lists, like Best Books for Teens and Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers. The boy and I had a lot of fun with it.
Stay tuned tomorrow for three more graphic novel finalists!