Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales by Nathan Hale

Reviewed by Emily Terasa (Library Staff)

I was looking for some quick graphic novels to read, when I saw someone checking out these children’s nonfiction graphic novels that looked interesting. I decided to try a few of them, and I’m glad I did, because they are fun, informative, and quick reads.

The series is Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales by Nathan Hale. The premise of these books is the spy Nathan Hale (from the Revolutionary War) is about to be hung by the British, when a giant history book eats him and he comes back and persuades his captors to stall his execution by telling stories of historically important events, kind of like the 1,001 Arabian Nights. I know this premise sounds weird, but it actually works really well because each graphic novel has Nathan Hale telling the story to both the British Officer and the hangman himself (who is probably the funniest character throughout)!

Some of my favorite books from this series are Raid of No Return (about World War II fighter pilots in the Pacific), The Underground Abductor (about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad), and Big Bad Ironclad (about ship battles during the Civil War, with a starring role for William Cushing who is from Wisconsin). I really like these books because even though they are marketed towards children, I still learn new things I never knew about interesting history events. I hope Nathan Hale continues to make these, because I will continue reading them!

Located in Children’s Nonfiction Graphic Novels

Eternals by Neil Gaiman

Reviewed by Jess H (Library Staff)

Before the announcement of the new Eternals movie from Marvel, I hadn’t really heard of these characters before. I decided to read Neil Gaiman’s Eternals run as a way to get a little familiar with the characters.

The overall story is that the Eternals lost their memories and have been living their lives as regular human beings. The Eternals need to find each other, figure out why their memories are gone, and also deal with the resurgence of the Deviants.

I enjoyed the lore and worldbuilding of Eternals and overall the art by John Romita Jr. is solid and exciting.

Though I did enjoy the story, I wouldn’t say this was a perfect introduction to the characters. If you’re already familiar with the Eternals, then you’ll probably get more out of this book than I did.

Available through the Bridges Library System

Pawcasso by Remy Lai

Reviewed by Andrea Bisordi (Library Staff)

Have you ever thought that a little lie would help you fix a problem, or make a friend? When eleven year-old Jo meets a basket carrying dog that she dubs Pawcasso, he seems to be the answer to helping her make some friends nearby. The trouble is, the stories she has to keep inventing get bigger and bigger, until they are way beyond her control. In the meantime, the neighborhood gets caught up in a big fight over changing the leash law, and both sides make judgements about the other. Can Jo bring peace to the neighborhood and still keep her new friends?

I like how the author uses thought bubbles help us see what Jo is thinking as she wrestles with when and how to tell the truth, and how it can be tricky to make friends, especially when we are worried about what they will think of us. Pawcasso is an endearing character, and the human characters are all wonderful, too. Kids who like stories about animals, friendships, and easy mysteries might enjoy this book. Bonus: there’s an ice cream recipe that’s suitable for dogs at the end!

Located in Children’s Graphics (J GRAPHIC LAI)

Sherlock Bones and the Natural History Mystery by Renee Treml

Reviewed by Melissa Beck (Library Staff)

In this silly graphic novel mystery, Sherlock Bones is the skeleton of an Australian bird who lives in the State Natural History Museum. When a giant blue diamond goes missing, Sherlock is on the case, assisted by his partner Watts (an inanimate stuffed parrot) and Grace (a street-smart raccoon interloper). The reader is also invited to assist in the case, as visual clues are cleverly sprinkled throughout the panels. The expressive art, slick humor, and way that Sherlock chats directly to the reader reminded me so much of the Bad Guys series. So far there are 2 books in this new series. Just plain fun.

Located in Children’s Graphic (J GRAPHIC TREML BK.1)

Katie the Catsitter by Colleen AF Venable & Stephanie Yue

Reviewed by Melissa Beck (Library Staff)

Katie the Catsitter is a charming middle grade graphic novel with oodles of humor and pep.

Feeling left out that her best friends are going to summer camp when she can’t afford to go, Katie seeks out odd jobs to raise enough money to attend camp for one week. After failing at many tasks, Katie lands a job catsitting the 217(!) cats belonging to her upstairs neighbor, Ms. Lang.

Despite Katie’s extreme affection for all things feline, this job proves challenging as 1) she learns that each cat has their own special skill (such as hacking, languages, helicopter repair, and fashion design) which they use to get into trouble and 2) she begins to suspect that Ms. Lang is actually the Mousetress, a super villain terrorizing her city.

I loved the overall playfulness and the uplifting exploration that good and evil may not always be as black and white as a tuxedo cat.

Located in Children’s Graphic Novels (J GRAPHIC VENABLE)

Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith Series by Charles Soule

Reviewed by Stephanie Ramirez (Library Staff)

Although I’m a HUGE Star Wars fan, I never got into the many diverse reading options that exist in the extended universe. After a recommendation from a podcast, I picked up the series “Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith” and was pleasantly surprised to find an amazing story. The series starts immediately after the events of the movie “Revenge of the Sith”–Anakin Skywalker has now become Darth Vader. But now what? What does one of the most fearsome villains in movie history do upon his creation? Turns out, numerous adventures abound. But in a twist, these graphic novels are not “adventure of the week” sort of fare. They also explore the nature of evil and the deeper meaning behind Vader’s fate. They also focus more on why Anakin chose to become Darth. For a Star Wars fan, these volumes can’t be beat.

Located in Adult Graphic Novels (GRAPHIC STAR WARS)

Shadow Roads by Cullen Bunn, Brian Hurtt, A.C. Zamudio, Carlos N. Zamudio

Reviewed by Jess H (Library Staff)

Shadow Roads is the kind of graphic novel you get when you grab a handful of extremely talented writers, artists, and letterers who all have a special love for westerns and supernatural fantasy. The main cast if fairly large, eight characters in total. The volume of protagonists alone bounces the plot along a quick clip, dropping exposition, action, and mystery easily and frequently.

Recently, I’ve been on a bad streak in terms of indie comic titles, but I can assuredly say that Shadow Roads’ first arc was some of the best supernatural storytelling I’ve seen in comics. Not to mention the art feels alive and is as much a draw to graphic novel as the writing is.

Pokemon Adventures Vol. 1 by Hidenori Kusaka and Mato

Reviewed by Jess H (Library Staff)

Pokemon Adventures loosely follows the events of the first Pokemon games, Red, Blue, and Green versions. The protagonist, Red, is an impulsive, sometimes over-confident, young boy trying to become the world’s greatest Pokemon Trainer. His rival, Blue, has the same goal, and a head start in terms of experience.

Despite the familiar source material, Pokemon Adventures offers a darker reading into the family-friendly franchise. Stakes are higher, danger is more frequent, and the battles can be deadly. At the same time, the manga captures the energetic and cute art the Pokemon franchise is known for as well as the humor of the cartoon.

With bite-sized chapters and engaging artwork, the first volume of Pokemon Adventures is a quick read that expertly expands the world of Pokemon.

Available through the Bridges Library System

Batman: The Black Mirror by Scott Snyder, Jock, and Francesco Francavilla

Reviewed by Jess H (Library Staff)

Batman: The Black Mirror isn’t really about Batman, it’s about Commissioner Gordon and Gotham City. Dick Grayson, former Robin and this graphic novel’s Batman, is chasing down someone called the Dealer and their cache of Gotham villain memorabilia. Commissioner Gordon faces a far more personal enemy, his son, James Jr. In the backdrop, the city of Gotham writhes in darkness, always on the verge of disaster.
If you like mature Batman stories, this one is a must read.

Available through the Bridges Library System

The Good Son by Pierre-Jacques Ober

Reviewed by Melissa Beck (Library Staff)

This cinematic book brilliantly tells the story of one French solider from the First World War using staged miniatures. The dramatic photography makes the stationary figures seem so dynamic, bringing all scenes–whether city or country, melancholy or violent–to life. Ober’s writing is spare but strong, pairing expertly with the scenes to convey a powerful message.

I was amazed to read in the afterward that Ober painted only preexisting models and miniatures. As he tells it, “the story was drawn from them instead of them being used to suit the purpose of a pre-written story.”

And what a story they told!

Located in Teen Graphic Novels (TEEN GRAPHIC OBER)

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