Thursday, 31 May 2018

Lumberjanes: Bonus Tracks

Lumberjanes: Bonus Tracks
By various authors

The Lumberjanes are five girls: April, Jo, Mal, Molly and Ripley.  They are best friends and Lumberjane Scouts, similar to Girl Scouts or Guides.  During their summers at camp they embark on all kinds of adventures and often encounter mythical forest creatures.

Various authors and artists, all women, have created their own Lumberjanes stories which are now collected here in Lumberjanes Bonus Tracks.  In these stories, the five cabin-mates discover ghost ponies which are being hunted by the evil creature Sola, try to capture the ghost of an evil axe murderer who is haunting their camp, and participate in medieval games where they meet a real dragon.

Lumberjanes stories are a bit wacky and sometimes spooky, but the five girls always live up to their motto: “Friendship to the max!”

Lumberjanes Bonus Tracks is just one title in the Lumberjanes series of graphic novels.

The Last Kids on Earth and the Nightmare King

The Last Kids on Earth and the Nightmare King
The Last Kids on Earth and the Nightmare King
By Max Brallier
Illustrated by Douglas Holgate

In the third installment of The Last Kids On Earth, Jack Sullivan and his buddies, June, Quint and Dirk, continue to battle zombies with their ingenious weapons and vehicles.  They have also made friends with many of the monsters that now inhabit the earth, and now rely on those monsters to help them out.

But Jack also encounters the Nightmare King, a monster who is pure evil and who gives Jack unwanted visions of the future.  Jack knows he must rid the earth of this particular monster.

Meanwhile, June, Quint and Dirk have discovered a radio, and they are picking up transmissions from other humans.  They are thrilled!  After all, this means that they might find their parents whom they lost during the zombie invasion.  But Jack is worried.  He is an orphan and his friends have now become his family.  So despite meeting the Nightmare King, Jack makes it his business to make life so much fun that his friends won’t want to leave him.  Jack doesn’t even tell his friends about the Nightmare King because it might make life a little less fun.

The Last Kids on Earth and the Nightmare King is part graphic novel, part chapter book.  And although it’s about life after the zombie apocalypse, it’s really about how much you count on your friends.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Be Prepared

Be Prepared
Be Prepared
By Vera Brosgol

Vera is ten years old and struggles to make friends.  All the girls she knows have the “right” kinds of birthday parties, dolls and sleepovers.  They all go to summer camp while she stays home with her brother.  The girls in Vera’s class are all-American girls but Vera’s family is Russian.

When she finds out that there is a Russian summer camp, Vera begs to go.  Despite the cost, her mother finally relents and sends both Vera and her brother.

Vera is old enough to bunk with the teenage girls, but she quickly discovers that she is nothing like them.  She balks at the camp food and is positively disgusted by the toilet, known as the “Hollywood”.  Camp life is nothing like she expected.

But as the weeks go by, Vera finally gives up on trying to impress the older girls and makes a friend in the younger girls’ camp.  Suddenly, camp life seems better and better.

Be Prepared is a graphic novel that vividly depicts one girl’s struggle to fit in.  Vera Brosgol’s illustrations bring this story to life.  Be Prepared is actually the story of the author’s own struggles as a child.  Everyone has trouble fitting in at times – some kids, especially girls, may take solace in Vera’s story.  There is more to Be Prepared than pain, however.  There is also friendship, humour and triumph.

There is some mature content in this book, making it suitable for grade 6 and up.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power!

Lumberjanes Unicorn Power!
Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power!
By Mariko Tamaki 
Illustrated by Brooke Allen

Those who love the Lumberjanes comics can now read about April, Jo, Molly, Mal and Ripley in chapter book format in this new Lumberjanes series!

Lumberjanes are like Girl Scouts or Guides.  Their adventures take place at camp, and they are all-too-eager to venture out into the woods, make new discoveries and explore new territory.  The five girls of Roanoke cabin are best friends, and include each other in all of their plans.

In the first book of the series, Unicorn Power!, the Lumberjanes discover a field of unicorns – in fact, they are constantly discovering mythical creatures.  The unicorns lead them to a giant, unexplored mountain, and April is determined to conquer it.  Without telling their cabin leader, Jen, the girls set off on a dangerous adventure.  But the mountain is not your average mountain – nothing ever is in Lumberjane world.  Can the Lumberjanes cope with the otherworldly challenges they face?

An interesting aspect of the Lumberjanes stories is the way they challenge gender and relationship norms.  Not only do the books celebrate the strength and ingenuity of girls, they also feature boys who identify as girls (Barney), the exploration of gay relationships and some parents who are gay.  The stories also celebrate deep and ongoing friendships and simply being yourself.  “Because it is awesome to be in a place where you feel like you can be you.” (p. 41)

Those who have been to camp will identify with the spirit of camaraderie that permeates the book.  Girl Guides and Scouts will also appreciate the Lumberjanes’ pursuit of badges such as S’More the Merrier and May the Forge Be With You.