Favorite Graphic Novels of 2013

Yesterday, I posted my favorite picture books of 2013.  Today, I am sharing my favorite graphic novels of the year.  There is a huge range of interests and appeal in the list below.  I love these books and have shared them often and look forward to future work from each of these authors and illustrators. 

In no particular order, here are my top 10 for 2013...

Extreme Babymouse (Babymouse #17) by Jennifer L. Holm; Matt Holm (Random House, January 22, 213)

Lunch Lady and the Video Game Villain (Lunch Lady #9) by Jarrett Krosoczka (Random House, April 23, 2013)

Game On! Squish #5 by Jennifer L. Holm; Matt Holm (Random House, May 1, 2013)

Odd Duck by Cecil Castelucci; Illustrated by Sara Varon (First Second, May 14, 2013)

Bluffton by Matt Phelan (Candlewick Press, July 23, 2013) - Click here to see the book trailer for Bluffton.

Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdkis by Jim Ottaviana (First Second, June 11, 2013)

The Great American Dustbowl by Don Brown (HMH Books for Young Readers, October 8, 2013) - Click here to see a video of Don Brown talking about his book.

Poseidon: Earth Shaker (Olympians #5) by George O'Connor (First Second, March 19, 2013)

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley (Macmillan, April 2, 2013)

Jane, the Fox, and Me by Fanny Britt, Isabelle Arsenault (Groundwood Books, September 1, 2013)

So, what are your favorite graphic novels of the year?

2013 Eisner Award Winners

"Comic-Con International is the home of the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the comic book equivalent of the “Oscars.” The Eisner Awards, named after famous comics creator, Will Eisner (The Spirit, Contract with God), who is regarded as the father of the modern graphic novel, started at Comic-Con in 1987. For the awards' first two decades, Eisner himself was on stage to present the awards to each year’s recipients. The Eisners are given out each year at Comic-Con International: San Diego in a gala event held the Friday evening of the convention at a local hotel. The awards feature more than two-dozen categories covering the best publications and creators of the previous year. A blue-ribbon committee selects nominees from thousands of entries submitted by publishers and creators, which are then voted on by members of the comic book industry." - About Comic-Con

Congratulations to the following winners:

Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 7): Babymouse for President, by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (Random House)

Best Publication for Kids (ages 8–12): Adventure Time, by Ryan North, Shelli Paroline, and Braden Lamb (kaboom!)

Best Publication for Teens (ages 13–17) A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle, adapted by Hope Larson (FSG)

To see all the winners: click here.

To see all categories and nominees, click here.

Book Review - ODD DUCK

Author: Cecil Castellucci
Illustrator: Sara Varon
Publisher: :01 First Second
Source: e-galley from NetGalley; Purchased Personal Copy
Audience: For all ages
Keywords: Graphic Novel Hybrid, Friendship,  

Description from publisher page:
Theodora is a perfectly normal duck. She may swim with a teacup balanced on her head and stay north when the rest of the ducks fly south for the winter, but there's nothing so odd about that.  

Chad, on the other hand, is one strange bird. Theodora quite likes him, but she can't overlook his odd habits. It's a good thing Chad has a normal friend like Theodora to set a good example for him.  

But who exactly is the odd duck here? Theodora may not like the answer. 

Sara Varon (Robot Dreams) teams up with Cecil Castellucci (Grandma's Gloves) for a gorgeous, funny, and heartwarming examination of the perils and pleasures of friendship.

My thoughts on the book:
Sometimes I want to just take the easy way out and say to everyone, "You'll love this book.  Go out and buy it." However, that is technically not a review but an endorsement of a book.  And yes, I endorse ODD DUCK as a book worth buying, but I will say more.

ODD DUCK can be slightly hard to describe.  It isn't exactly a picture book, nor is it a graphic novel.  It's really sort of a hybrid graphic novel/early reader/chapter book.  It is also not just for young children.  ODD DUCK can certainly entertain listeners and readers of all ages. There is a lot between the pages that young children will find funny or silly and simply an enjoyable story about two friends who happen to be ducks and a bit odd at that.  Adults who pick this up because they have enjoyed Castellucci's other books or Varon's graphic novels will also find meaning on the pages of this story and will identify with the story of friendship and being unique.  

The story is about a duck named Theodora who lives her life a little differently than the other ducks.

Soon, another duck moves into the neighborhood.  His name is Chad.  Theodora bakes him a cake as a welcoming gift and soon they have developed a special friendship.  But as it happens, sometimes things can come between friends.  Of course, for real friends, there is always a way back to that friendship. 

This past Saturday, I had an opportunity to attend the book event for ODD DUCK at Skylight Books in Los Feliz.  There were special ODD DUCK cupcakes on hand for the event.

Cecil Castellucci was there to share about how ODD DUCK came to be.  She shared that illustrator, Sara Varon felt a special connection with Theodora; whereas, Cecil sees herself a little more like Chad.

Cecil projected the story onto a screen and read it for everyone.  All of the children (and even big "kids") really enjoyed hearing about Theodora and Chad.

I was sitting over by Alethea (@frootjoos), Kristen Kittscher, and Elizabeth Ross.  Kristen was sharing her copy of ODD DUCK so that we had a close up look at Varon's quirky and just right artwork.

There is even an tree in the center of Skylight Books and if you look closely, author, Leslie Margolis was in the audience. 

If you haven't picked up a copy of ODD DUCK, I would encourage you to head over to your local bookstore and pick one up.  Remember to shop Indie whenever possible.

For more information:
Cecil Castellucci - website | facebook | twitter

Sara Varon - website | facebook 

Complete the Rafflecopter below to enter to win a signed copy of ODD DUCK. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Comic Book Review - Princeless Vol. 1

Author:  Jeremy Whitley
Illustrator: M. Goodwin
Publisher: Action Lab
Source: Copy for Review
Audience: Ages 11 and older

Description from GoodReads:
Princeless is the story of Princess Adrienne, one princess who's tired of waiting to be rescued. Join Adrienne, her guardian dragon, Sparky, and their plucky friend Bedelia as they begin their own quest in this one of a kind, action packed, all-ages adventure!

Graphic Novel. Collects issues 1-4 of Princeless.

My thoughts on this:
Thanks to my friend Maria over at Maria's Mélange, I have discovered some really fun comics featuring strong women protagonists.  As we were chatting on Twitter about Princeless, Jeremy Whitley (author of Princeless) asked if I would consider doing a review.  Here are some of my thoughts...

Princeless begins with the young Adrienne being read a bedtime Fairy Tale about fair-haired maiden who is rescued from the dragon by Prince Charming.  Quickly the reader discovers that our young Princess Adrienne thinks that these kind of stories are ridiculous and has her own opinions about princesses, dragons, and being rescued.  However, at 16, Adrienne finds herself locked in a tower by her parents, and being guarded by a dragon.  Upon finding a sword under her bed, Adrienne decides that she is going to set herself free and with the help of her dragon, Sparky (yes, she named the dragon Sparky), then together they set out to free her sisters who are also being held in towers in various parts of the kingdom.

This graphic novel basically is a parody of the typical fairy tale and princess stories.  Instead of the fair maiden in need of rescuing, Adrienne is smart, quick thinking, and just snarky enough to be funny but not annoying.  Additionally, Adrienne is not a fair-haired maiden.  For those young girls out there looking for a smart, strong heroine of color, then Princeless is a story for you.  In issue 3, we meet Bedelia who is the daughter of the blacksmith and is designing "armor" for women.  Whitley uses this opportunity to challenge the idea of the type of costume vs. armor that women have worn (yes, Princeless aptly pokes fun at the costumes of Wonder Woman and Xena, etc.) and Bedelia finally creates the perfect armor for Adrienne.  

Whitley's writing is spot on and fun.  The artwork in the digital version is well done and compliments the text. 

Princeless Volume 1 is a collection of the first four issues.  These are available as individual issues via  Comixology and Comics+  Princeless Volume 2 will be out in a few weeks.  I will definitely be keeping an eye out for it. 

Note: Regardless of whether I have received a review copy or have purchased a book, all reviews reflect my honest opinion of a book.  If I don't like a book, I simply don't review it. 

Check out this interview from Comic-Con with Jeremy Whitley:

Places to find out more about the author or series:

Action Lab Website: www.actionlabcomics.com
Twitter: @jrome58
Action Lab twitter: @actionlab 
Tumblr: princelesscomic.tumblr.com 
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/actionlabentertainment

Favorite Miscellaneous Books of 2012

Since I am still reading a few last Middle Grade and YA novels, I decided to do a miscellaneous favorites post before my Middle Grade and YA posts.  I limited all of the titles to ones that were released in 2012. 

Early Readers and Chapter Books

Sadie and Ratz by Sonya Hartnett; Illustrated by Ann James (Candlewick Press) - This early chapter book is filled with humor and sibling challenges that are oh so real.  Not always easy to find in a bookstore, this was a favorite title of mine that needs more attention. 

Bink & Gollie: Two For One by Kate DiCamillo & Alison McGhee; Illustrated by Tony Fucile (Candlewick Press) - See my write up over on the Nerdy Book Club post here.

Rabbit and Robot: The Sleepover by Cece Bell (Candlewick Press) - An early reader that seemed to get over looked.  A story of friendship and humor.  This one had me laughing out loud. 

Lulu Walks the Dogs by Judith Viorst; Illustrated by Lane Smith (Simon & Schuster) - Rarely does a sequel or companion novel live up to the first book, but this sequel is as enjoyable if not more than the first one.  Definitely one of my choices for a read aloud in 1st or 2nd grade classes.

Marty McGuire Digs Worms! by Kate Messner; Illustrated by Brian Floca (Scholastic) - Hop on over to my Nerdy Book Club post for my comments on this one.


October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Lesléa Newman (Candlewick Press) - This novel in verse is a touching tribute to Matthew Shepard.  A powerful book comprised of 68 poems with additional endnotes and resources. (For YA audiences)

The Wild Book by Margarita Engle - Written in free verse, this book takes a look at a young girl living in Cuba at the beginning of the 1900's.  Readers experience Fefa's life through lyrical prose and visual storytelling. 

A Poem as Big as New York City: Little Kids Write About the Big Apple by Teachers Writers Collaborative; Illustrated by Masha D'yans (Universe) - This book inspired me to take on a poetry art project this year with two groups of students.  Children's poems combine to bring New York City to life.

UnBeeLievables: Honeybee Poems and Paintings by Douglas Florian (Beach Lane Books) - Bee poems, bee facts and bee paintings combine together to bring new understanding to the life of Honeybees. 

Graphic Novels

Cardboard by Doug TenNapel (Graphix) - Magical cardboard takes on a "Twilight Zone" feel in this graphic novel.  Creepy and fascinating with a message.

Drama by Raina Telgemeir (Graphix) - Telgemeir's humor and ability to celebrate the day to day stuff in the lives of tweens to young teens is remarkable. DRAMA focuses more on the behind the scenes folks of the Drama club rather than the characters with starring roles.

Hades: Lord of the Dead (Olympians #4) by George O'Connor (First Second) - The fourth book in the Olympians focuses not only on Hades but also Persephone and Demeter.  O'Connor's Greek/Geek notes at the end add additional insight to the various volumes in this series.

Book Trailer for Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword

Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite by Barry Deutsch (Amulet) - A strong female character who is also an Orthodox Jewish heroine? I had my doubts when I picked up the first book, but Deutsch won me over.  He continues to impress me with this follow-up as Mirka has some lessons to learn and some problems to solve that won't happen quickly and will require thought. 

Prince of the Elves (Amulet Vol. 5) by Kazu Kibuishi (Graphix) - I love this series and this may be the best one yet. The ending was certainly a cliff-hanger and left me wanting more. The series continues to build and the characters continue to face hard choices and the consequences that follow.

Legends of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke (First Second) - In the second book in the series, Zita must learn to come to terms with public attention and her role in everything and what happens when you let someone else step in. 

Bird and Squirrel On the Run by James Burks (Graphix) - The odd couple is resurrected in this graphic novel about an industrious squirrel and an irresponsible Bird. Students love Burks books.  Hope to see more of this odd couple.

Squish #4: Captain Disaster by Jennifer L. Holm and Matt Holm (Random House) - I love Babymouse, but adore Squish.  In each book, I think I come to appreciate this loveable amoeba even more.  Also, there are some great messages that can be used as discussion starters in classes.

So what were some of your favorite books this year?