Give Us Some Space…Graphic Novels!

Lynn:  The older faction of the focus group hopped on these two graphic novels the minute we opened the boxes and have been demanding we write about them for the blog.  The boys really didn’t have to do much nagging since these fun books were a joyous diversion.  I’m going to start the love fest with Earthling (Chronicle 2012) by Mark Fearing. 

9-year-old Bud faces two of every kid’s nightmares:  starting a new school and missing the bus on the first day!  URK!  But wait – it gets worse!  The bus Bud does get on is a school bus filled with aliens headed to Cosmos AcademyBud quickly learns that Earthlings are the most feared and despised species in the galaxy so with the help of new friends, he pretends to be a Tenarian exchange student.  Bud really likes  his new friends but he yearns to go home, especially as the loathsome Principal Lepton is getting very suspicious.  Aided by his buddy Gort, Bud masters ZeroBall, figures out what is REALLY going on at Cosmos Academy, achieves re-entry and a happy ending.

A very funny look at the perils of being new at school, this story nicely incorporates a mystery, space adventure and some (inner space) exploration of dealing with differences and fitting in.

Focus Group:  This was really funny!  I like the black hole power, the robots and the cool aliens.  I wish I could go to this school – after the mean principal left.

Cindy: I was so excited when the sequel Legends of Zita the Spacegirl (First Second 2012) showed up on my porch! Zita’s wild adventures in the first book Zita the Spacegirl delighted both Lynn and me…and the focus group, who would surely agree with Ian Chipman’s assessment of one aspect of Ben Hatke’s artwork:

First things first: Hatke draws awesome aliens. Lots and lots of them. Wee hairy ones and giant blobby ones, many-eyed ones and multiple-limbed ones, giant cat ones and head-inside-another-head ones.

In fact, if you want to know what is going on in this new adventure that features a robotic doppelganger, why don’t you just click the link above and read Ian’s full starred Booklist review. Suffice it for me to say that I admire the fun and smart world that Hatke has created here. Readers can enjoy the space romp alone or they can dig a little deeper and think about what is being said about hero worship, media soaked cultures, and inner strength and loyalty.

“You think I’m a HERO,” Zita says. Madrigal replies, “I think you’re like the rest of us. Just trying to hold things together while you find your way. But I also think the role suits you….You shine in a crisis, and you inspire loyalty.”

I’m glad there will be more Zita adventures coming, but I wouldn’t mind also seeing Zita in an animated production. I’d like to see those fabulous aliens in motion!

Focus Group:  The Zita books are awesome.  I like how the story goes on from the last book.  The robots are really cool and I like all the aliens too.  I’ve read this 4 times now.


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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees.

2 Comments on "Give Us Some Space…Graphic Novels!"

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  1. andykaiser@gmail.com' Andy Kaiser says:

    Just wanted to endorse both Zita the Spacegirl and Legends of Zita… My 7-year-old daughter and I just finished reading both. She loves them, and is disappointed there are no more (as yet) in the series.

    I’ve tried to find age-appropriate, non-manga comics for her. It’s tough. The “good” ones (like Amulet, Coraline, Avatar, Bone, Explorer, Mouseguard, Tintin, Ember) are either not for girls or are too scary/graphic for her age.

    Zita was an excellent suggestion – it was just right for us. Thanks for finding this!

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