[Monday Reading] Baby-sitters and Roller Girls – Cool Girls in Middle Grade Graphic Novels

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Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (brainchild of Sheila at BookJourney). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

Last Week’s Review and Miscellany Posts

We’re also inviting everyone to join our Award Winning Books Reading Challenge for 2015 (#AWBRead2015)! You still have a few months left before the year ends to win book prizes.

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Congratulations to Linda Baie for her review of All The Light We Cannot See, our AWB Reading Challenge Winner for July-AugustPlease send your address and contact number to gatheringbooks (at) yahoo (dot) com so that Pansing can mail your book prize.

Here is the sign up page and the September-October linky if you already have reviews up. One randomly-selected participant would receive a copy of Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick courtesy of Pansing Books. 

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Click here to view my announcement post to learn more details.

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I knew I had to begin with these two amazing graphic novels both published this year to kick off our September-October reading theme. Both recently published books (2015 titles!) feature immensely cool girls in middle grade comics. Two of my greatest finds this year.

IMG_4849The Baby-Sitters Club: Kristy’s Great Idea

Based on the novel byAnn M. Martin Graphic Novel adaptation by: Raina Telgemeier
Published byScholastic 2006, 2015
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

I have always been a Sweet Valley High (and occasionally a Sweet Dreams) girl. I’ve also read my fair share of Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Bobbsey Twins. But Baby-sitters club, nah. That has never been my thing when I was a tweener. However, when I found this graphic novel in our library many moons ago (I paid overdue fines for this book), I knew it was time for me to get to know the Baby-sitters club.

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What I liked best about the novel is how each of the characters have their own distinct traits and unique voices that make them who they are. While Kristy is the elected Leader of the Club, it never seemed as if she was the Alpha Female or the She-Girl who manipulates everyone to think in the way she does. This was way before the Mean Girls phase of teendom when having a mind of one’s own is valued over blindly following the edicts of the Queen Bee.

Claudia is evidently the artist with the skull earrings, hair colour, and strange make-up:

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Then there’s the girl from New York (which brought stars in Mary Anne and Kristy’s eyes),

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Stacey who seems to have some kind of eating disorder as she is perpetually on a diet:

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Mary Anne has an overprotective father and seems to be the mousy, wall-flower type. How the four girls got together is a joy to read. I also like how the many codes, signs, symbols of friendship is captured here:

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This is a light read and I am grateful that there were no huge issues tackled – just the average navigating through divorced families, moving to a new place, the woes and joys of baby-sitting, dealing with pesky brothers who make prank calls despite the Baby-sitters Club being a legitimate business:

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and what it’s like to be in middle grade. I am also gratified that there was no attempt to ‘modernize’ this book with gadgets, smartphones, etc, and that it remained true to its time period showing just how timeless a narrative Ann Martin created. I would urge readers to get the coloured version of this graphic novel – definitely worth my overdue fines. Will most likely get myself the entire coloured set once they’re out.

Roller GirlIMG_2146

Written and Illustrated byVictoria Jamieson
Published byDial Books for Younger Readers, 2015
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

I have been seeing this graphic novel being shared by respected friends/bloggers in the kidlitosphere and I’ve been reading with great interest the overwhelming love it seems to be getting. The hype, ladies and gentlemen, is absolutely justified. Victoria Jamieson has created something special here and the entire story coheres so beautifully from its seemingly-cinematic beginning

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to its infinitely-satisfying end (which I won’t show here, of course).

Astrid is no sweet girly-girl – she’s a spunky, outspoken, starry-eyed, rainbow socks, blue-haired kind of fiery young girl. From these first few pages, I already loved her. Astrid is best friends with sweet Nicole who likes pointe shoes, make-up, and boys. While they seem like total opposites, these girls used to be inseparable. Until this summer when Astrid figured out who she would like to be – taking her far away from Nicole’s ballet lessons and prim-and-proper sensibilities:

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I like how persistent Astrid is – it doesn’t matter that she sucked BIG TIME in roller skating. It’s not as if she was a protege in roller skates: she fell down .. hard.. again and again and again.

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And so with bruised elbows, shaky knees, and hips that simply won’t quit, this girl took on the thumps and thunks not really to become the next Rainbow Bite (find out who she is in the book) but because she wanted to prove a point to her former BFF – and they will all be sorry that they ever called her Ass-Turd. 🙂 She felt in her bones that she would be able to truly reinvent herself – and she started with her hair.

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This must be one of my most favourite scenes in the book. Plus this one:

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Loved her mother’s freaked reaction – and Astrid’s fake nose ring – a red herring to distract the Mom away from … errr.. her blindingly blue hair.

Roller Girl made me both laugh out loud (til tears were pouring out from my eyes) and moved me deeply and made me cry with sympathy and communion with this misunderstood girl whose life just seemed to be moving sideways – total crossovers, really. My favourite character though in the entire novel is Zoey, Astrid’s new theatre-geek friend.

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When my thirteen year old girl read about Zoey, she immediately squealed in delight and rushed off to read this part aloud to me – clearly Zoey and Astrid are her people. I also loved how it was mentioned that Astrid’s mother is Puerto Rican – in reference to the West Side Story movie that these two geeks are watching – but Astrid’s ethnicity never really figured prominently in the story – we have indeed come a long way in depicting multicultural narratives. No fuss, no big deal, no issue. It simply is.

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There is probably so much more that I could say about this graphic novel, but I would stop here. While there were a few spelling errors that I detected in this particular edition (it’s the teacher in me, I suppose), this book is near-perfect. Find it. Buy it. Read and re-read.

Currently Reading…

I was able to finish reading the adult crime novel Smaller and Smaller Circles by F. H. Batacan, and half way through and finished reading The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson last night!

I was also able to read quite a number of graphic novels this week which I hope to feature for our current reading theme. I am also thinking of starting this novel this week: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. Anyone who has read this novel?

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8 Comments on [Monday Reading] Baby-sitters and Roller Girls – Cool Girls in Middle Grade Graphic Novels

  1. I feel like I’m missing out since I haven’t yet read Roller Girl. Must find a copy to read. What did you think of Great Green Heist? I enjoyed it–another example of how far we’ve come with multi-cultural literature.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. First, I’m excited to win a book. Thanks, Myra! And I guess after this one more wonderful review of Roller Girl I’m going to have to find it. It does sound lovely. Love this “total crossovers, really”. I’ve never read a Baby-Sitters Club book, so don’t know if I will find the new graphic one, but you have made it sound as if they’ve done a good job re-telling the story in comic fashion. Have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Roller Girl is definitely worth a read! Now I may just have to browse through it to find the spelling errors and see if it was accidentally included in your edition.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am putting Roller Girl on my library hold list right now — thanks for the enthusiastic rec!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I was SUCH a Babysitters’ Club fan as a kid. I also read the graphic novel version this summer and enjoyed it greatly. I hope it inspires a new generation of babysitters!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a wonderful theme! This reminds me that I need to read Roller Girl this fall. It was always out at the library! So popular!

    Like

  7. LOVE THE NEW THEME! And HOORAY for Roller Girl love!! 🙂

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  8. Roller Girl is my kind of book. I’m glad you enjoyed it too! I’m surprised more of my seventh graders haven’t picked it up…still trying to figure that one out.

    Like

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