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April 22, 2010 Edition

Adventures in Cartooning, by James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, and Alexis Frederick-Frost

Do you like to doodle? Have you ever tried drawing comics but been disappointed with your efforts? This is the book for you! With the help of the magic elf, a brave knight and his sugar-loving horse, a bubble-gum chewing dragon, and a missing princess, you’ll learn about panels, word balloons, putting events in order, and action lines. At the same time, this is the laugh-out-loud story of what happens when the brave knight takes control of the comic to find his way to the dragon’s lair. This is definitely as advertised – a how-to-cartoon rather than a how-to-draw book that assumes a basic comfort level with doodles. (kindergarten through middle school and even older – this book truly has a wide age appeal)

Robots, by the Editors of YES Mag

Robots like MAKRO, Spirit, and Kamel are showing that the reality of robots is just as exciting as the familiar but fictional robots from movies. Read about the first robots, created centuries ago, which poured tea, played music, and wrote messages using a quill pen. More practical robots (though less likely to be thought of as robots) came later: automated looms, calculators, and a remote-controlled boat. And contemporary robots are able to travel places humans cannot (to the deep ocean floor, inside sewer pipes, and on the surface of other planets) or do things impossible for humans (precision, detailed work such as surgeries, defusing bombs, and locating people trapped in dangerous spaces). And take a look into the future of robot-human interactions, too! Filled with amazing photos, this is guaranteed to excite your imagination. (older elementary and middle school readers)

The Storm in the Barn, by Matt Phelan

Set in the Dust Bowl and bringing in mythic elements, this beautiful graphic novel is the story of eleven-year old Jack who feels like he’s stuck in place. Since the rains stopped when he was seven, there’s not much to do on a Dust Bowl farm – his dad doesn’t need any help harvesting crops that don’t grow, so Jack spends his time keeping his little sister out of trouble, worrying about his big sister’s dust pneumonia, and staying out of the way of the town’s bullies. One night he sees something glowing in the neighbor’s abandoned barn and when he investigates the next day, he finds a sinister, dripping figure hiding in the shadows. It is Rain, intent on making humans bow down. Buoyed by the folk tales he’s heard about heroes named Jack, he finally gets his courage up to send Rain back to the skies. Pair this with The Key into Winter, by Janet Anderson and The Stranger, by Chris Van Allsburg for more stories of disrupted seasonal elements. (older elementary through adult – this is another book with wide appeal)

I’ll Pass for Your Comrade, by Anita Silvey

This is the story of women who didn’t want to be laundresses, nurses, or cooks for soldiers: they wanted to fight alongside their brothers, fathers, and husbands. These days, women can join the military and go to war openly, but during the Civil War they had to dress in borrowed clothes and disguise themselves as men. Some went undiscovered and resumed their female identities after the war, others were found out because of death or illness, and still others maintained their male personas long after the war was over. Why did they go to such lengths to change themselves? Some wanted to be close to their enlisted family members, were desperate to escape poverty, or wanted adventure. Others were passionate for the cause. This thoroughly-researched book illuminates the daily lives of these women within the context of the societal upheaval of the time through photos, sketches, and fascinating stories. (older elementary and middle school readers)

On Your Mark, Get Set, Grow! For younger boys, by Lynda Madaras, illustrated by Paul Gilligan

It’s hard to predict when you’re going to start puberty – get the facts here before you get the wrong information. This book, aimed at 9-12 year olds, has sidebars of questions from kids like you for more information. Madaras, who has taught puberty classes for many years, has a friendly, reassuring voice whether she’s talking about how fast feet grow, how to hide erections, or the growth of hair in new places. There’s information here on the psychological changes that take place, too, from how friendships form to how relationships with parents change. Illustrated with humorous but detailed cartoons, this has plenty of information without being overwhelming and is something you can read on your own or with your parents. (older elementary school readers and parents)

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