Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland (review)

Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland HC
Author: Eric Shanower
Illustrator: Gabriel Rodriguez
Publisher: IDW Publishing (To be released May 26, 2015)

Based on the comic strip by Winsor McKay from the early 20th century, Eric Shanower has crafted an entirely new set of adventures for Slumberland. The illustrations are marvelous and intricate in the style of the illustrations of that era (best know from the Oz books, and are a joy to flip through.

In this series of adventures, King Morpheus' daughter, simply known as the Princess, is looking for a new playmate to replace a long line that have not worked out well. When she sees that one of the candidates is named James Nemo Summerton, she chooses him because of a previous favorite playmate was named Nemo.

Unfortunately, Nemo doesn't want to be known as Nemo, he prefers Jimmy. He doesn't like to play with girls, and especially not the Princess. The adventures range from various of the King's court trying to get Nemo to Slumberland (I especially liked these) to their attempts to get him to stay and play with the Princess.

The story feels a little dated, as I am sure is intended, and I imagine that will intrigue some and irritate others, but I would recommend it for anyone who likes comics and somewhat old fashioned stories.

Four out of five stars.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Nobody!: A Story About Overcoming Bullying in Schools (review)

Nobody!: A Story About Overcoming Bullying in Schools
Author: Erin Frankel
Illustrator: Paula Heaphy
Publisher: Free Spirit Publishing (May 15, 2015)
Digital review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Thomas is reluctant to go to school, and the reason is Kyle, who taunts and teases and puts down Thomas at every turn. Thomas has other friends, but they are a little afraid to stand up for him because they don't want to become targets themselves. That leaves Thomas feeling even more alone, and if he complains to a teacher, it is only his word against Kyle's.

Things get better when Thomas realizes that being "different" can also mean being unique, and when his friends start standing up for him, Kyle realizes he has been too mean and backs off, so things get better for Thomas

This is a book very focused on a specific anti-bullying message, and it would work very well as a conversation starter or part of a guided discussion. I think that is its primary purpose, so it feels appropriate, but I want to clarify that it is not really a story first with a secondary anti-bullying theme, but rather a focused anti-bullying story. There are excellent resources at the end of the book on how to discuss different parts of the story, how people act and react, and what different points of view there may be.

My only complaint is that there was a moment when it seemed likely that we would get a little more insight into Kyle and what might drive him, and then it seemed underutilized. While the focus should stay on Thomas, any conversation about bullying is likely to include how and why bullies get to be bullies.

The illustrator deserves kudos for delivering this message in illustrations that feel more like a graphic novel than a picture book. I think this broadens the age group who would respond well to the book. I would recommend this for parents and other adults of children from kindergarten through 4th or 5th grade.

Four out of five stars.