#WomenReadWomen2019 Award-Winning Books Features Genre graphic novel It's Monday What Are You Reading Lifespan of a Reader Middle Grade Reading Themes Sisterhood and Female Bonds

[Monday Reading] GirlFriends in Middle Grade Graphic Novels – Sanity and Tallulah and Lumberjanes

"Women Talking" by Miriam Toews | "The Silence Of The Girls" by Pat Barker.


It's Monday! What Are You Reading

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 (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. 

I really am enjoying finding quite a number of middle grade graphic novels that feature female friendships. Here are a few recently published ones.

Lumberjanes Vol. 3: A Terrible Plan

Written by Noelle Stevenson and Shannon Waters Illustrated by Carolyn Nowak
Published by Boom! Box (2016)
ISBN: 1608868036 (ISBN13: 9781608868032). Literary Award: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Graphic Novels & Comics (2016). Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

I have only read Noelle Stevenson’s first Lumberjanes and found it to be refreshingly witty and entertaining. A group of girl scouts – oops… hardcore lady types is the term they prefer – getting into hijinks while out camping and thus, saving the world, would always have a place in my heart. However, we only have a few of the books in the comic series in our library, and most of them are not in order (ugh). Hence, it has taken me quite awhile to read the rest of the books in the series. For our current reading theme, I decided to forgo the sequential aspect of it, and just borrow whatever I could find to be featured for our sisterhood reading theme.

I really enjoyed the first part of the book when the girls were all gathered together in a campfire, roasting marshmallows, and telling each other ghost stories – and being pretty blunt with each other if they didn’t enjoy the plot twist or if the story flat out didn’t make sense.

As per usual, the girls get into unexpected adventures involving a ball-istic type of ballroom dancing, fondant-making, scrapbook-making, and getting into a portal to Dinotopia with a bear-turning-hag (who apparently used to be a Lumberjanes Camp Director), among others.

I like how the stories alternated between Mal and Molly who were out on a date – err.. picnic was the term used – and the rest of the girls who were deadly-determined to get a badge, even if it kills them. I didn’t realize cake-decoration could be so competitive:

The Molly and Mal story arc seemed a bit too out there for me – although it still seemed fun and something that most middle grade readers would probably appreciate:

I was slightly jarred by the stylistic changes from one story to the next, although the variations are relatively subtle. However, it took me out of the story a fair bit. Regardless, this is still a quick, fairly-interesting and humorous read that features young girls who are out fighting dinosaurs, decorating cakes, and having fun while in camp.

Sanity & Tallulah

Written and Illustrated by Molly Brooks
Published by Disney-Hyperion (2018)
ISBN: 1368008445 (ISBN13: 9781368008440). Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

I don’t think I have ever come across a middle grade graphic novel that has a clear scifi bent, with two best girlfriends as the main protagonists who are very clearly geeks and are deeply into Star Trek type of TV shows, are young mad scientists, and live in a space station right smack at the galaxy’s end.

I enjoyed how the diversity aspect is taken as a matter of course, instead of being played out as a main part of the narrative. That being said, it is worth noting that Sanity Jones is clearly an African-American girl, downright brilliant, so smart in fact that she managed to artificially create a cute, furry, three-headed creature – otherwise known as Princess Sparkle and Destroyer of Worlds.

Then there is also Tallulah’s father who has a mechanical leg, gloriously long-haired, and he cooks, too! I like his relationship with Tallulah’s brother, and the way that he actively tries to be a part of his children’s orbits. 

However, one of my favourite characters here is Dr. Vega, Tallulah’s mother who vacillates between exasperation and compassion towards these two nerdlings who seem to naturally gravitate towards trouble – that they are able to impressively fix on their own. Things become chaotic in this space station when Princess Sparkle and Destroyer Of Worlds escaped from its hatch – wreaking havoc, causing fires and sudden blackouts.

Initially, I had a hard time getting into the rhythm of the story – but it has its own distinct charm, its very own signature that I have not found in other middle grade graphic novels. The narrative does not talk down to kids, but simply assumes that they can follow the scientific research bits, and understand Sanity’s very logical and highly empirical train of thought. This is a definite must-have in anyone’s library.

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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

8 comments on “[Monday Reading] GirlFriends in Middle Grade Graphic Novels – Sanity and Tallulah and Lumberjanes

  1. I’m disappointed that we don’t have Sanity & Tallulah in my area, yet. Maybe we’ll get book #1 by the time book #2 is published in October. This looks like it will be a great little series! And I’m going to have to go look up Lumberjanes right now. Thanks for sharing, Myra!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really liked Sanity & Tallulah–appreciated the science, liked the color palette and the diverse characters, LOVED Princess Sparkle & Destroyer of Worlds!! I read the first Lumberjanes but haven’t continued on with the series. I might have to get back to it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sarah Sammis

    I’ve read that volume of the Lumberjanes but still have a couple more to read. Sainty and Tallulah is on my wishlist. My weekly updates

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love Lumberjanes! Though I do need to catch up.
    I own Sanity and Tallulah, but I haven’t read it! Thank you for the reminder to.

    Happy reading this week 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I enjoyed Sanity and Tallulah for similar reasons and I’m glad that a graphic novel has strong, diverse female characters. I have heard of Lumberjanes but haven’t read the series yet. Summer is almost here so there is time!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Rebecca Herzog

    I have read some of the LUMBERJANES and thoroughly enjoyed it. I will have to check out SANITY AND TALLULAH. Thanks for the recommendation. Happy readings this week!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jana Eschner

    Both of these graphic novels look awesome. I haven’t been picking graphic novels up lately, but I definitely need to check these out. Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful week!

    Liked by 1 person

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