[Monday Reading] Graphic Novels About Giants, Ghosts, and House Spirits

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It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Fats 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 (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). 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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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 the announcement post to learn more details.

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I have with me three awesome graphic novels that kept me busy within the last two weeks. One was recommended to me by a friend, another by a co-worker, and the third I happily discovered while browsing for titles for this theme.

mr1102nHilda and the Midnight Giant

Writer and illustrator: Luke Pearson
Publisher: Nobrow Press (2012, 2nd ed.)
Intended audience: Young readers and the young-at-heart
Awards: Winner of Young People’s Comic Award (British Comic Awards 2012), Eisner Award Nominee (Best Writer/Artist, Best Publication for Kids)
Book borrowed from Twinsburg Public Library. Photos taken by me.

Hilda and the Midnight Giant was one of the titles that popped up in my random Internet search. The cover was adorable and I was glad to find a copy in our online catalog. This is the second book in the Hilda series created by Luke Pearson. If his artwork looks familiar to you, that’s because Luke Pearson has created storyboards for Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time.

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The first book, entitled ‘Hildafolk’, is a very short graphic novel that introduces readers to the main characters in the series, namely Hilda and her mom. They live in a cozy house in the rocky mountains of the Fjords with Hilda’s cute pet fox named Twig. Hilda is homeschooled and she spends her free time exploring and drawing rocks. Readers are also introduced to creatures such as elves and trolls, as they appear to be a normal part of Hilda’s world.

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In Hilda and the Midnight Giant, elves are trying to evict Hilda and her mom from their property. After a series of disturbances that include vase-breaking and window-bashing, Hilda’s mom decides that it must be time to move to the town of Trolberg. Hilda refuses to leave the Fjords so she decides to find a way to stop the elves from harassing them. She befriends a little elf who lets her sign a contract so she could see the other elves and talk to their king. Hilda also meets a giant who keeps coming to the mountains close to her house and learns that, for a very long time, the giant has been waiting for someone to meet him in that place.

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The stories meshed in Hilda and the Midnight Giant are sad stories, but Luke Pearson has managed to bring out sweetness and charm of Hilda’s world with his art. As in Adventure Time, the stories in the Hilda series are short and simple, sometimes strange but always charming. Hilda and the Midnight Giant is equal parts cute and funny, topped with valuable lessons. I recommend this series to anyone who appreciates gentle narrative, weird adventures, and spunky female characters. Don’t forget to check out the other books in these series: Hildafolk, Hilda and the Bird Parade, Hilda and the Black Hound, and Hilda and the Troll.

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0-545-21028-3Ghostopolis

Writer and illustrator: Doug TenNapel
Publisher: Graphix (2010)
Intended audience: Middle grade and up
Awards: Winner of Best Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror (VOYA 2009)
Book bought from Amazon. Photos taken by me.

I saw this in our online catalog but initially ignored it. I had way too many books at the time to add another to the pile. It was only when a co-worker mentioned it to me at work that I decided to give it a go. I knew about Doug TenNapel’s other graphic novel called “Cardboard” but never got around to reading it. I was surprised to learn that Doug TenNapel is the genius behind the popular video game, Earthworm Jim, that my boyfriend used to play.

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Ghostopolis revolves around two characters: a detective named Frank Gallows and a boy named Garth Hale. Frank Gallows is a washed-up ghost hunter who lives a miserable life and could not care less about his job at the Supernatural Immigration Task Force. Garth Hale has an incurable disease and the doctor who gave his mom a fifth opinion could not even say how long Garth has to live. Eventually, the destinies of these men would cross.

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One fateful day, Frank was sent by his superior on a hunt for a skeletal horse that was running loose in the neighborhood. In a desperate attempt to send the horse back to the afterlife, Frank pushed the button without having a visual on the subject. The horse, which ran past the wall where Frank was standing, got tangled with Garth who was sitting on his bed at the time. Needless to say, Garth and the horse were zapped into the ghost world.

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In the afterlife, Garth befriended the horse and named him Skinny. There he also met the ghost of his grandfather, Cecil. As Garth and Cecil tried to figure out a way to get Garth back home, they ended up in Ghostopolis. The city was being ruled by a man named Vaugner (who reminded me of Hades from Disney’s Hercules). Will Garth ever find his way back? And will Frank be able to redeem himself?

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This graphic novel has vivid imagery, quite a few fight scenes, and a lot of ghosts and hunting. This book is definitely fast-paced. However, I thought the plot had missing pieces. There wasn’t much of a backstory for the two main characters, and there seemed to be little room for character development. I still enjoyed reading it, though. Overall, Ghostopolis offers a thrilling ride to the afterlife with enough humor and suspense.

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mr1102pSeconds

Writer and illustrator: Bryan Lee O’Malley
Publisher: Ballantine Books (2014)
Intended audience: Young adult and up
Awards: Nominee for Best Graphic Album Original (Harvey Awards 2015) and Best Graphic Album – New (Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards 2015)
Book borrowed from a friend. Photos taken by me.

Award-winning cartoonist Bryan Lee O’Malley is best known for his Scott Pilgrim series. I loved the movie but haven’t read the graphic novels yet. I was really excited when my friend let me borrow her copy of Seconds, which is O’Malley’s stand alone graphic novel. The book had been sitting on my shelf for months, so you can imagine how glad I was to finally read it. (Achievement unlocked! Yay!)

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Seconds focuses on 29-year-old Katie who established a restaurant with her friends. They named it Seconds. Her friends eventually moved and she was left taking care of business. Seconds was actually owned by Ray and his boyfriend, and Katie worked as executive chef of the restaurant. It was located in an old building. Four years was enough to make Katie realize that she wanted a brighter and bigger kitchen. She cut back on her hours at Seconds and gambled her life’s earnings to an abandoned building under the city bridge. Katie hoped that with her new business partner and restaurant location she would finally live her dream — even though Seconds had been voted best restaurant in the city for three consecutive years.

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The story became more complicated when Katie encountered a house spirit named Lis who had been hanging out on Katie’s dresser for who-knows-how-long! Katie eventually acquired the ability to change the past and fix her mistakes with the help of a notebook and a magical mushroom that Katie found in the dresser. She decided to give it a shot and fixed an accident that took place at work. Katie’s new-found ability worked but things did not go well for her since then. Katie found herself in more troubles, therefore in need of more mushrooms, more fix-its, and more life rewinds.

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Seconds offers an interesting look at one person’s desire to make her life perfect. While being absolutely adorable and hilarious, the book offers emotional truths about regret and acceptance, in the character of a young woman going through quarter-life crisis. The novel reflects what it’s like to be human and how even our smallest choices create big changes in our lives and the lives of those around us.

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Currently Reading…

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Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
(for my Book Riot Read Harder Challenge)

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Vincent by Barbara Stok

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#AWBRead2015 Challenge Update: 93, 94 (35)

  1. The Hilda graphic novel sounds like a really fun read and looks it too. Bet young readers will love it.

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  2. Thanks for sharing the graphic novels. My students really love them and I’m always looking for new titles. Hilda sounds great.

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  3. These all sound good, Fats, all new to me, will see if my library has them. Thanks for the detailed reviews.

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  4. Nice week.

    ENJOY this week.

    Elizabeth
    Silver’s Reviews
    My It’s Monday, What Are You Reading

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  5. These look like cool graphic novels. My daughters love to read these book forms time to time.

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  6. These are some great looking graphic novels. Ghostopolis and all the other TenNaple titles are very popular in our library. I like the cover of Vincent and can’t wait to read what you have to say about it next week.

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  7. My students love Ghostopolis and everything Doug TenNapel. However, I do agree that for plot some of his books do lack, but he makes up for it in the art. I loved Seconds for the same reasons you did! This is a great book to recommend to my friends who are skeptical of those weird “comic books” I’m always reading.

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  8. […] moment I laid eyes on it. The gorgeous cover reminded me of the amazing talents of Luke Pearson (Hilda and the Midnight Giant) and Dave McKean (The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Golfish). There is darkness. There is […]

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