Kat Recommends: Secret Coders by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes
Welcome to Stately Academy, a school which is just crawling with mysteries to be solved! The founder of the school left many clues and puzzles to challenge his enterprising students. Using their wits and their growing prowess with coding, Hopper and her friend Eni are going to solve the mystery of Stately Academy no matter what it takes!
Just the idea of this graphic novel series is awesome: teaching the basic principles of coding through comics. Despite being written on a very easy reading level, this book is incredibly effective at conveying complex computer science concepts. They explained binary in a single chapter! And at the end of each chapter is a puzzle for readers to solve using what they’ve just learned. Yes, the story mostly serves to carry the learning, but there is definitely character developments and at least one big twist in the story of the first book–this is a finely crafted piece of work, worthy of any reader curious about computer science.
Katie recommends: Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birute Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks
Tackling Goodall, Fossey, and Galdikas in turn, and covering the highlights of their respective careers, Primates is an accessible, entertaining, and informative look at the field of primatology and at the lives of three of the most remarkable women scientists of the twentieth century.
Genres: non-fiction, graphic novel, middle grade, science, feminist heroes
A lovely biography of three very important scholars which shows just how intertwined their careers were. The delightful art brings such personality to the story, allowing for multi-page silent passages with just these scientists interacting with the apes. Combined with the smart, fast-moving narration that’s conveniently color-coded to the characters and not afraid to tell the nastier parts of living in these jungle locales (like malaria, lack of running water, poachers, and lack of contact with the outside world), this story gives a down-to-earth feel to these pioneers of science, without scaring readers off from their less than glamorous lifestyle.
Recommended for amateur scientists, animal lovers, and voracious graphic novel readers.
Review by: Anonymous
Graphic Novel, Middle Grade, Fantasy
What was your favorite part of this book?
I really liked the villain’s true back story. It was nice to see a bad guy in a kids book that wasn’t just generic bad guy #4, but who actually had a reason for taking kids and making them like him. His arc tied in really nicely with the main character as well, and his story was properly sympathetic. I hope we get more time with him in future books.
How was the art? What do you think it added to the story?
The art was gorgeous. The strange characters they used for the witches’ language were so cool, and I loved the characters’ costumes. I think Ostertag’s art really added to the whimsical nature of the book, without making it too superfluous or too scary.
Who would you recommend it to?
I would recommend this to any fan of graphic novels, especially people who like Lumberjanes or Princeless. It would also be a really good read for any kids learning about LGBT culture, since the book has such a powerful message about enforced gender roles woven subtly into its narrative.
Graphic Novels (aka Comic Books) are often decried as junk, and children are often encouraged to “make the jump” from comics to “real books.” However, scientists and teachers alike are starting to support the use of comics as a unique teaching tool that not only makes learning more enjoyable, but also helps readers understand concepts more clearly. J.A. Micheline outlines the merits of comics quite nicely at the Guardian.
But why take her word for it? Come try some of the new items from our Graphic collection.
El Deafo by Cece Bell
“Starting at a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece’s class was deaf. Here she is different. She is sure the kids are staring at the Phonic Ear, the powerful aid that will help her hear her teacher. Too bad it also seems certain to repel potential friends.”
An unforgettable book about growing up, and all the super and super embarrassing moments along the way.”
Tommysaurus REX by Doug TenNapel
“A tale about a boy and his T Rex! Ely is an everyboy trying to cope with the death of his dog Tommy. When he finds a live, 40-foot Tyrannosaurus Rex trapped in a cave behind his grandfather’s house, Ely embarks on an adventure to tame this seemingly friendly giant, convince the town his new pet isn’t a threat, and keep his dinosaur safe from the jealous town bully.”
Compass South by Hope Larson and Rebecca Mock
When 12-year-old twins Alexander and Cleopatra’s father disappears, they set off on a across-country adventure full of mysteries, heists, and swashbuckling across 1860’s America.