Posted in Book Review, Grades 3-5, Graphic Novel

Brave by Svetlana Chmakova


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Brave is the sequel to Awkwardan amazing graphic novel about navigating middle school life. Brave follows the same basic group of kids, with a different main character. In Brave, Jensen (the art club kid from Awkward who is obsessed with sunspots) learns about bullying. He doesn’t think he is a victim at first, but he gradually begins to understand what being bullied really means. He compares his school day to a video game, a constant struggle to avoid the “bad guys” and traps; making it through the day is a struggle for “survival.”

This book has a bit more mature content compared with Awkward. There is no sex or serious violence, but the bullies call Jensen “fatso” and “stupid” and Jensen uses the phrase “makes my life a living hell.” Compared to the overall message in this book, these are tiny considerations. But, as a parent, you should know what you are getting into. Many of our 3rd graders read Awkward and their parents might not think they are ready for this one.

Overall, this is a great book that describes realities of middle school, bullying, feeling alone, making friends, and standing up for yourself. I highly recommend it to 4th grade and up.


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Posted in Grades 3-5, Graphic Novel, Realistic Fiction

Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova




Cardinal rule #1 for surviving school: Don’t get noticed by the mean kids.

Cardinal rule #2 for surviving school: Seek out groups with similar interests and join them.

Penelope Torres (Peppi) is thinking of these rules as she starts a new school. When a boy (Jaime) tries to help her pick up all her stuff, the mean kids start calling her Nerder Girlfriend. Embarrassed, Peppi pushes Jaime and runs away. She feels guilty and spends most of her time trying to figure out how to apologize. When a rivalry heats up between Peppi’s art club and Jaime’s science club, things become even more awkward.

This is a charming middle school story that kids will enjoy. It is age appropriate for 3rd grade and up – no violence or bad words – just a sweet story with a hopeful ending. The graphics are expressive and fun, a highly recommended graphic novel.


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Posted in Adult, Book Review, Graphic Novel, Young Adult

Maus by Art Spiegelman


So, I started reading this book in June, ended up getting caught up in other things, including other readings, and I finally just finished it. I actually had to start again from the beginning, but it was worth it.

This graphic novel is written by Art Spiegelman and based on his father’s experiences before and during World War II. The book skips back and forth in time between the adult author speaking to his father and the years around World War II. In the illustrations, the Jewish people are represented by mice, the Germans cats, and the Polish people by pigs. This graphic novel is at times touching, at times horrifying, and at times just sad. A definite must-read for anyone interested in this time period.