Book reviews - graphic novels

A graphic novel is a narrative work in which the story is conveyed to the reader using sequential art. Typically, graphic novels are longer and are bound in more durable formats than comic magazines. They use the same materials and methods as printed books, and they are generally sold in bookshops rather than at newsagents. Such books have gained increasing acceptance as desirable materials for libraries which once ignored comic books. They are an excellent way to engage young people with reading, as they enjoy the format.
The most recent reviews are at the top of the page, so these are generally the most recently published books.
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Drew Pendous and the Camp Color War based on the series Cool School​

Cool School is a popular children's YouTube channel. All the Cool School crew are really looking forward to Camp Cool School. But they will be up against Cruel School in the Colour War and Ray Blank and his Cruel School mates don't play fair. They have all sorts of dastardly tricks up their sleeves in this colourful graphic novel. It's all change when Grace Cale arrives and tries to steal all the colour in the Colour War, and the former enemies have to work together. As evidenced from the title, these books do feature US spelling, but with the highly illustrative nature of the books, it's not really an issue. The lively presentation and engaging groups of friends will capture children's attention. Published by Sterling Books, July 2019, ISBN 9781454931072.

Drew Pendous Travels to Ancient Egypt based on the series Cool School

Drew Pendous has a magic pen, his "Pen Ultimate. Whatever he draws with it changes into reality. The school trip to the museum is already full of excitement but Drew wants more - he wants to go back to ancient Egypt, so he draws a time machine. Drew and Ella travel back to ancient Egypt to investigate. Drew'e enemy Ray Blank has rewritten history by erasing the nose! It's up to Drew and Ella to stop Ray and set the timeline straight. The second in the Drew Pendous series is just as enjoyable as the first and the books are a really good way to engage reluctant readers, with their high graphic content and good use of appealing layout. Short chapters and the comnic book style flow well together, and the bright illustrations have instant appeal. Published by Sterling Books, July 2019, ISBN 9781454931096.

Me and Mrs Moon by Helen Bate

Granny Moon picks Maisie and Dylan up from school every day and they have an excellent relationship. But then things start to go wrong and the children don't know what to do for the best as Granny Moon starts to act more and more strangely. Love, loyalty and resilience shine through this powerful graphic story of two children determined to help their friend, but not knowing what to do for their old friend. The illustrations depict the dilemmas perfectly, making the book striking in its effectiveness. This is a touching and perceptive book that will help children understand the devastation caused to people's lives by dementia. It's a tricky subject, but it's been excellently handled and the comic book format makes the book very accessible. A good way to highlight the plight of those affected and to show people how to deal with the situations that arise - kindness and love being the key.

Peter in Peril: Courage and Hope in World War II by Helen Bate

Peter enjoys an ordinary life until the devastation of war comes to his city. As Jews, their lives are curtailed and finally the whole family must go into hiding. This is an emotive true story set in Budapest, Hungary, showing vividly through words and pictures how Peter, his cousin Eva and his mum and dad struggle to survive in a city torn apart by warfare. I like the inclusion of a map which makes the events more real when put into context. As well as the historical aspect, the book is very relevant to the situation in many countries today - we need to learn from the past, and books like this are excellent in helping the younger generation to understand these issues. It's emotional and dramatic, drawing the reader in superbly, and is accessible even for reluctant readers.

The Funniest Book Ever from The Phoenix Presents

This hilarious book is bound to have immediate appeal and children are going to revel in the wonderfully illustrated pages with humour oozing from every word and every image. There are seven separate stories, from seven very different but equally talented authors/illustrators. Laughter holds the universe together! Without the seven types of laughter found in this book, everything would collapse! We all need humour in our lives and this will definitely brighten a gloomy day for any r5eader, reluctant or keen. It's superbly produced too, on top quality glossy paper with great detail and resolution in the pictures - a joy to read.

Bunny vs Monkey 5: Destructo by Jamie Smart

Destructo is the new villain in the woods... he is the wickedest and cruellest in the whole land. But where's Monkey gone? Now Skunky wants to take over the woods - with the help of his ingenious inventions, and he's got his inventions to help him including the octo-bosh and the pig cannon. Can Bunny's gang save the woods? Another excitinh six months in the woods, with each story complete over just two pages - perfect to encourage children to read. I know it is common in graphic novels to use upper case, but I do have reservations about this, as graphic novels are the perfect genre to appeal to reluctant readers yet they are the ones who will struggle most with this format. Despite that, though, this is a highly entertaining book and another great addition to the series about Bunny and Monkey.

Corpse Talk: Queens and Kings: and Other Royal Rotters (The Phoenix Presents) by Adam and Lisa Murphy

Strictly speaking, of course, this shouldn't be under fiction but I felt that those looking for graphic novels would definitely be interested in this - and it is told in a narrative style. It's an engaging and unusual way to learn all about some of the most astonishing rulers from history - 18 of them in all. Rulers from all over the world tell their stories... from the grave and with the benefit of hindsight. From Cleopatra to Queen Victoria to Moctezuma, these are fascinating stories to entice children to learn their history. The graphic element is strong, naturally, and gives a fascinating insight into the stories.

The Phoenix Colossal Comics Collection: Volume 1 (Phoenix Colossal Comics 1)

This is a great value book and a super sampler to show off the range of comics available from The Phoenix. It's a collection of different comics, bringing together different humorous, informative, action-packed, and brain-teasing stories; it's a great way for children to find out their preferred style from a selection which includes favorites like Bunny vs. Monkey, Evil Emperor Penguin and Trailblazers amongst many fabulous and hilarious comic strips. A good range of authors are here, including Chris Riddell, Jamie Smart, Jess Bradley and Laura Ellen Anderson. The shiny paper and high quality graphics make for an enticing book, perfect to encourage reluctant readers.

The Adventures of John Blake: Mystery of the Ghost Ship by Philip Pullman and Fred Fordham (artwork)

A strong storyline finds the ship The Mary Alice searching for a way home. But the mysterious ship is being hunted by a villain who will go to any lengths to track them down... Join John Blake and the crew on an unforgettable time-travelling adventure on the high seas. I wonder why capitalising is seen as the way to produce text though - I think lower case letters would be better, to encourage and facilitate the reluctant reader. This is an exciting adventure, combining fantasy and the modern world in a gripping story.

Looshkin: The Adventures of the Maddest Cat in the World: The Phoenix Presents by Jamie Smart

Looshkin is the maddest cat ever - he just can't be left alone. Looshkin is the maddest cat in the world! You may think that your cat is mad, but they've got nothing on Looshkin. Leave him for just a moment and you'll find that your house has flooded, a steam train has smashed into your living room and a portal to another dimension has opened in your loft. And everything is covered in bees. And there are sirens. Looshkin, what have you done?! Zany and inconsequential.

Tamsin and the Dark (The Phoenix Presents) by Neill Cameron and Kate Brown

The dark look of the graphic novel images are perfect for conjuring up the mysterious and dark atmosphere in this evocative book. Tamsin Thomas is the Last Pellar destined to keep humanity safe from magical forces. When Tamsin's class visits a disused old mine, Tamsin soon realises that there are mysterious creatures hiding underground. But something else stirs deep beneath the earth...There's a dark, ancient evil down there, one that's been trapped for a very long time. Tamsin will need all her wits about her if she's going to confront it, and keep everyone she cares about safe...


Mega Robo Bros 2: Mega Robo Rumble by Neill Cameron

This is a really excellent series, perfect for encouraging children to read. Fast-paced, full of action and superbly illustrated - all the best in comic strip stories. Brothers Alex and Freddy are robots, agents of R.A.I.D. R.A.I.D. is an elite government unit that protects the world from robotic attacks. In this dramatic story, a giant drill-bot is destroying London. Visually exciting and full of action. Display these stories on the library shelves and you are guaranteed to get interested readers; encourage your readers to talk about the books and generate even more interest too.

Goscinny and Uderzo: Asterix and the Chariot Race by Jean-Yves Ferri, illustrated by Didier Conrad

This is the 37th book in the series, and the third to be written by Jean-Yves Ferri and illustrated by Didier Conrad; the transition to new author/illustrator is seamless with all the best points of the originals faithfully reproduced. Set in Ancient Italy, it seems that Asterix and Obelix might thwart Caesar's aim to have a Roman win a race which is open to the whole known world. This time, it's the turn of Obelix to take the lead and drive the chariot. Brilliantly written and illustrated; a worthy successor.

Illegal: A graphic novel telling one boy's epic journey to Europe by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin

The graphic novel format is perfectly suited to this powerful and moving story about a boy's epic journey. Ebo is alone - his sister left months ago and his brother has disappeared too. Ebo knows it can only be to make the hazardous journey to Europe, and it is now his turn. The book follows his risky across the Sahara Desert to the dangerous streets of Tripoli, and finally out to the merciless sea. But with every step he holds on to his hope for a new life, and a reunion with his sister. A highly topical theme with a message of hope and resilience, made accessible and appealing to a wide audience by the nature of its format.


Bunny vs Monkey: Book 4 (Bunny Vs Monkey 4) by Jamie Smart

Graphic novels make a refreshing change from text-heavy fiction and they are especially good for encouraging reluctant readers (my only reservation is that I would prefer to see a lower case font to attract and be readable for dyslexic and struggling readers). This story, the fourth in the series, is full of humour and imagination. This is a wonderfully entertaining foray into the woods full of flying custard, lemon-y doomsday devices and huge amounts of fun to keep readers entertained throughout Bunny and Monkey's fight over the Woods reaches new heights as the hew-man park rangers join the fray!. But they'll also have to contend with a whole need breed of terror... The Wobble!

Long Gone Don: The Terror-Cotta Army (The Phoenix Presents) by Robin Etherington

Could things get worse for ten-year-old Don Skelton than downing in a bowl of oxtail soup? The answer is that they certainly could... When a giant's heart disappears, Don uncovers a dangerous new enemy. Now, in order to save the day and the sanity of his best friends, Don may have to sacrifice his afterlife. Prepare to enter the hilarious world of LONG GONE DON, where one boy's end is just the beginning of the adventure...

Good Dog Bad Dog: Double Identity (The Phoenix Presents) by Dave Shelton

Muttropolis is movie central, and there's been a killing in Collie-wood. Kirg Bergman and Duncan McBoo, the craftiest cops around, are soon on the case, but the city is full of mean mongrels who are determined to stop them sniffing out the truth. There's no stopping the finest milkshake-fuelled minds in the force, though - criminals beware: Bergman and McBoo are on your tail! Quick fire dialogue in an action-packed story packed with puns and plays on words, this graphic novel is packed with lively cartoon drawings to enhance the text/

Lost Tales (The Phoenix Presents) by Adam Murphy

This comic-style book contains three very little-known myths and legends; it's excellent to read unfamiliar stories and the graphic format is, of course, the perfect way to attract reluctant and struggling readers - although even fluent readers will thoroughly enjoy the refreshing change from text-heavy books. In the land of the Mi'kmaq, there lived an invisible warrior who longed to be seen. In the Punjab, there lived a poor hermit who renounced riches. In Brazil, there lived a lonely princess who yearned for a playmate. These are compelling tales, all illustrated in full colour in detailed comic-book style. The vibrant pictures are wonderfully expressive and bring a whole fresh level of interest to the stories. Produced by the publishers (David Fickling) of The Phoenix.

Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce - Graphic Novel  by Edith

This much-loved story will reach a whole new audience with this faithful graphic novel adaptation. Renowned graphic novel artist, Edith, has created an enchanting version of the classic Tom's Midnight Garden. Tom is a modern boy living with his aunt and uncle in a city flat; it's in a converted building that was a country house during the 1880s–1890s. At night, Tom slips back in time to the old garden where he finds a girl playmate; it is, to me, one of the best time-slip books ever. This is a new and special way to read, share and enjoy this children's classic. The adaptation is true to the spirit of the original, and Edith's stunning illustrations really bring the story alive; the pictures are full of detail and really add to the experience of reading the story - brilliantly done.

Northern Lights - The Graphic Novel: Volume Two by Philip Pullman, adapted by Stephane Melchior

Following on from dark and dangerous adventures in Volume One, Lyra and Pantalaimon have journeyed north, in search of the missing children and Lord Asriel. But the frozen wilds are harsh and inhospitable, and fearsome enemies are waiting at every turn. If Lyra is to succeed in her quest, she must enlist the help of unexpected allies: an armoured bear and a witch queen. The path ahead will lead to dark truths and grave danger... The tension and drama is admirably portrayed through the graphic novel style, making this epic work much more accessible to younger and reluctant readers. This is the second book in a remarkable three-volume graphic novel adaptation, the first of which won the Prix Jeunesse du Festival d'Angoulême. As I said before, I do find the format too small to gain the full benefit from the quality of the graphics and the font is also quite small and faint, which is disappointing, given the exceptional quality of the adaptation.

Bunny vs Monkey: Book 3 (The Phoenix Presents) by Jamie Smart

Looking for ways to encourage reluctant readers to enjoy books? This series is well worth a try, with its strong story lines and exceptional graphics. This is another wonderfully entertaining foray into the woods where Bunny and his friends are battling Monkey in increasingly crazy and hilarious ways. The characters are well-drawn, the stories are short and action-packed, and the illustrations are exceptional. "The Phoenix is a 32 page weekly all ages anthology comic suitable for boys and girls aged 6-12. It arrives through the post in a special Phoenix envelope every week to delight and inspire its readers!" The Phoenix aims to inspire a love of reading and great storytelling in all children - and these books certainly achieve the same.

Mega Robo Bros (The Phoenix Presents) by Neill Cameron

London! The Future! Alex and Freddy are just like any other brothers - they squabble and they drive their parents crazy. There's only one difference...they're the most powerful robots on earth! Or are they? They are to learn that they're not the only super-powered robots around. They find themselves pitted against an evil enemy and their peaceful lives are under threat. It's the perfect story for a comic strip presentation with lots of action, plenty of danger and a fast-paced story. If you are looking for a book reluctant readers, give this a try.

Asterix and the Missing Scroll by Jean-Yves Ferri

"Julius Caesar has finished writing the history of his campaigns in Gaul. His publisher, Libellus Blockbustus, foresees a huge success ... but there's a snag: the chapter about Caesar's defeats by the indomitable Gauls of Armorica. Cut it, Blockbustus advises, and everyone will believe that Caesar conquered all Gaul. Or will they? Newsmonger and activist Confoundtheirpolitix takes the chapter to Asterix's village. Can the Gauls make sure the truth is revealed?". Following in the footsteps of Goscinny and Uderzo, this is just as good as the originals and a delight to have a new Asterix story. The storyline is as funny as ever and the illustrations by Didier Conrad are spot on.

The Adventures of Jonnie Rocket: Saga 1 The Ride of Terror by John Chapman

Welcome to the world of Jonnie Rocket - "Imagine a bicycle that morphs into a rocket. Imagine a watch that folds time. Imagine discovering new worlds, Other galaxies and strange life forms. Battle with space pirates, Encounter aliens and meet mystical creatures. Excitement awaits and danger looms. Zoom into the world of JONNIE ROCKET…" Jonnie believes that there is something more out there, never sure what or where, but staring into the sky he wonders what it must be like to reach the stars. With its bright vivid comic strip style illustrations, this series is bound to appeal to boys and especially reluctant readers who will respond well to this approach.

The Adventures of Jonnie Rocket: Saga 2 - The Space Lobes by John Chapman

In this exciting and fast-moving story, Jonnie crashes on Planet Cranium and has a really exciting adventure with the Space Lobes. The Jonnie Rocket books are designed to build self-belief in children; to encourage them to use their imaginations and to use their potential. The books will appeal across a wide age range, and children will enjoy the colourful approach and exciting adventures.

The Adventures of Jonnie Rocket: Saga 3 - The Sea of Sargoss by John Chapman

In the third exciting and imaginative adventure, Dr Avatar sends Jonnie to Sargoss, which is facing an ecological disaster of devastating proportions. Can he survive the universe? Kids would love to be like Jonnie Rocket, with his vivid imagination and exciting adventures. There is lots more to enjoy, including activities for children, on the Jonnie Rocket website.

Tamsin and the Deep (The Phoenix Presents) by Neill Cameron and Kate Brown

Graphic novels offer an excellent way to capture children's attention, by combining all the fun of the traditional comic along with a strong storyline. Tamsin is surfing in Cornwall but she knew that she shouldn't have gone into the water... After wiping out on her board, she is dragged down, into the deep... into a long-forgotten world of ancient magic. It's dark magic and Tamsin's family is placed in danger as strange things start to happen. Superbly illustrated, this graphic novel is gripping and exciting.

Northern Lights - The Graphic Novel: Volume One (His Dark Materials) by Philip Pullman, adapted by Stephane Melchior

This is a superb version of the well-known story and the ideal way to gain an introduction, and a real feel of the story. Lyra Belacqua lives half-wild and carefree among the scholars of Jordan College, with her daemon familiar always by her side. But the arrival of her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, draws her to the heart of a terrible struggle – a struggle born of Gobblers and stolen children, witch clans and armoured bears. As she hurtles towards danger in the cold far North, Lyra never suspects the shocking truth: she alone is destined to win, or to lose, the biggest battle imaginable. It's easy to lose the flavour of the original with any adaptation, but this succeeds admirably in keeping the feel of the story. Just one comment - the illustrations are full of detail but I would have liked them to be a little larger to get the full benefit. They are excellently drawn and deserve to be bigger.

J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan: The Graphic Novel by Stephen White

Many of us have been enchanted by the tale of the boy who wouldn't grow up - it's special to me as the first play I remember being taken to. This graphic novel is far from the Disney version many will know - it is darker and closer to J M Barrie's original concept. Dramatic illustrations and engaging text create a new vision of the tale which will engage new readers and those who know and love the original. The illustrations draw on original, authentic features from the locations that inspired Barrie to write his tale. These include Moat Brae House in Dumfries and the garden where he played as a boy. In choosing the format of a graphic novel for this retelling, Stephen White has created a new and exciting version of Peter Pan that is like nothing that has been done before.

Captain Coconut and the Case of the Missing Bananas by Anushka Ravishankar

This unusual and gripping detective story features Ace Detective Captain Coconut, who proclaims he can solve any mystery large or small. When he starts to investigate the case of the missing bananas he finds himself on a slippery trail of peels and missing numbers. Anushka Ravishankar is India's best known writer of nonsense verse and here she cleverly combines logic with the absurd to make engaging reading. Priya Sundram's collage art is the perfect counter to the text and is a key part of the book; it brings together elements of popular Indian imagery, drawn from advertising, the movies, newspapers and interior decor, to create a delightful world that will entrance children.

The Joker's Dozen (You Choose Stories: Batman) by Laurie S Sutton

Perfect for reluctant readers, this choose-your-own-ending story will engage the reader and make them feel in control of what is happening. The Joker transforms dozens of Gotham City citizens into laughing (and robbing) fools! Is the Dark Knight outnumbered, or can he even the odds? Should he use a Batarang or another high-tech weapon? Can the Caped Crusader save the city, or will the Clown Prince have the last laugh? In this interactive story, You Choose the path Batman should take. With your help, he'll take down The Joker's Dozen! The cartoon-style presentation is closely akin to comics and will appeal to a wide range of young people (generally boys) who may not otherwise engage with reading.

Dino Mike and the Jurassic Portal by Aureliani Franco

In this chapter book with cartoon-style illustrations, Dino-Mike finds a portal to the Jurassic period - a time in history that fascinates many a young reader. Young Michael Evens and a new friend need to return real dinosaurs to their own time period. Can Dino-Mike and his friend survive this blast to the past? On their journey they will encounter a stegosaurus, a brachiosaurus, and the biggest, baddest T. rex that Mike has ever seen! With easy-to-read language, plenty of action and illustrations on nearly every page, Dino-Mike chapter books are perfect for beginning readers

Terror of the Bigfoot Beast (You Choose Scooby-Doo!) by Laurie S Sutton

The reader is in charge here, as there are 10 possible endings depending on the way the reader works his way through this interactive book - a great way to engage reluctant readers and to stimulate the imagination. On a camping trip, Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Inc. gang encounter Bigfoot! Will the gang pack up or stay to investigate? Should they follow Bigfoot's trail or wait for help? Does Scooby get to chow down or go hungry? With plenty of full colour cartoon-style illustrations, this is an inviting read.

Eek Discovers Earth (Eek and Ack Early Chapter Books) by Blake A. Hoena

After observing earthlings and thinking they are rather weird, Eek decides to build a spaceship so that he and Ack can go conquer Earth - look at the spaceship and you might realise why it lands in the Sudsy Duck Laundromat! They are being attacked by - guess what! It's time to take off - quickly! An entertaining and colourful story for new readers, which includes teaching tips at the end.

Here Comes Krypto (Krypto the Superdog) by Jesse L McCann

Krypto the Superdog is Superman's pet dog in the Superman comic books published by DC Comics - he first appeared in March 1955. In this story, the Last Pup of Krypton arrives on Earth, meets his host family and friend Kevin, and fights crime with his stalwart companions! There are some jokes to groan at at the end of the book! The comic strip format is as close to traditional comics as any book gets.

In the Clutches of the Penguin! (Batman Strikes!) by Bill Matheny

A format which appeals to many children and especially useful for engaging reluctant readers, the comic strip format is tried and tested to encourage reading and hopefully the move forward into chapter books. In this story starring a young Batman who is new to crime-fighting, The Penguin pulls a heist that could reveal Bruce Wayne's secret identity and destroy vast portions of the city of Gotham! Batman is a popular character and readers will enjoy this colourful graphic adventure.

The Beast Boy Who Cried Wolf (Teen Titans GO!) by J Torres

Having a sense of humour isn't always such a good thing... at least that's what Beast Boy's teammates think, since they tend to be the victims to his jokes. Alien from outer space? Beast Boy totally freaked the other Titans out with his jokes. The visual questions and prompts provide ideas for teachers to use to encourage readers to discuss and engage with the book.

Hilda and the Bird Parade by Luke Pearson

The latest in the acclaimed series following the magical adventures of Hilda, the little blue-haired heroine. Hilda and her mother have finally laid roots down in their new home in Trolberg. Today revellers flood the streets in spectacular feathered costumes to celebrate the annual Bird Parade. And Hilda, ever the adventurer, wants a peek behind the scenes. Hilda rescues an injured raven, but her new ward is no ordinary has the ability to shift in form. What's the meaning of it all? Will the secret truth be revealed at the bird parade?

I See the Promised Land: A Life of Martin Luther King Jr. by Arthur Flowers

Not quite a novel, I know, but I felt that those looking for graphic novels would also find this of interest and the way the book flows and is presented as a story makes it eminently readable. This graphic novel version of the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement is an exciting dialogue between two very different storytelling traditions. Arthur Flowers - African American writer and patriot - tells the story in lyrical prose, while the text is illustrated by Manu Chitrakar, traditional Patua scroll artist from Bengal, India. The artist allows the tale to resonate in his own context, translating it into the vivid and colourful idiom of Patua art. In the process, King's struggle transcends its context, and becomes truly universal. This revised edition includes new art and an essay explaining how this extraordinary cross - cultural project evolved.

Tintin in America (The Adventures of Tintin) by Herge

Tintin's off to America! where gangsters, cowboys, Indians and the Big Apple await - and so does danger. But luckily, Snowy is on hand to help our hero. Still selling over 100,000 copies every year in the UK and having been adapted for the silver screen by Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson in 2011, The Adventures of Tintin continue to charm more than 80 years after they first found their way into publication. Since then an estimated 230 million copies have been sold, proving that comic books have the same power to entertain children and adults in the 21st century as they did in the early 20th. This is one of Tintin's earliest adventures and, while it's very entertaining, the later stories are just that bit better - but fans will appreciate this regardless.

DFC Library: Fish-Head Steve by Jamie Smart

A hilarious comedy about a sleepy mid-western town, Spumville, whose inhabitants wake up one day to find that their heads have been replaced by household objects and family pets! What can possibly have caused this calamity? The nuclear power plant? The aliens? Or something even more sinister? Can our hero Fish Head Steve and his funny-faced fellows solve the mystery? This is the perfect way to encourage reluctant readers and to instill a love for books and reading.

Vern and Lettuce by Sarah McIntyre

I was hooked as soon as I started to read the adventures of lovable Vern the sheep and his best friend Lettuce the rabbit, not to mention her adorable, but very troublesome brood. Vern is the groundskeeper at Pickle Rye Park and his job is - what else could it be? - trimming the grass. But the moles seem intent of ruining his good work. Follow Vern and Lettuce in their bid for fame in the big city.The stories are all quite simple but the genius lies in the way they are presented in gentle comic strip format. Read very carefully to ensure you enjoy all the gentle puns, which are a wonderful feature of this book. ;

DFC Library: Super Animal Adventure Squad by James Turner

Two hilarious stories about a team of investigators. In 'The Teatime of Doom', our heroes are faced with a Level 6 Cake Emergency as cakes suddenly disappear from bakeries across the country. Without a mid-afternoon treat, the very icing of society would dissolve! Can the SAAS recover the precious pastries in time, or will they come to a sticky end? In 'The Case of the Baboon Bandit', pirates have stolen the world's most valuable treasure, the Jade Baboon of Rangoon. Does the squad have what it takes to defeat the Dread Pirate Green Beard? Cutlasses, cookery and comedy capers abound in this brilliantly funny follow-up! Highly entertaining stories with more descriptive language that I had expected in a graphic novel - super way to encourage reading.

Monkey Nuts: The Diamond Egg of Wonders (DFC Library) by Robin Etherington

In their very first adventure, Sid, Rivet and Chief Tuft are forced to do battle against a horde of random oddballs and weirdos. When a mysterious signal begins to drive the local loonies into a crazy rage, the Monkey Nuts team have no choice but to grab their masks and get heroic! Great characters and action-packed adventures - and enough detail that it repays reading several times - you'll spot something new every time. An imaginative and creative book which shows how valuable graphic novels can be.

DFC Library: Good Dog, Bad Dog by Dave Shelton

Dog detectives Kirk Bergman and Duncan McBoo are the finest canine cops in all Muttropolis. And they're never short of work. The city is heaving with cunning crooks and malevolent mongrels who would sell their own mother for a bone. Join our dog detectives as they chase leads, sniff out crime, collar the bad guys and generally get their teeth into adventures full of action, suspense and . . . milkshakes. Yes, if you love puns, you'll love this story! Brilliant art work, plenty of hilarious adventures and wonderful wordplay - adults will relish it too!

The Terrible Tales of the Teenytinysaurs! by Gary Northfield

A zany cast of dinosaurs are brought to life and are roaming around the earth in this colourful collection of comic strip adventures. Is it possible to fly to the moon in a bubble of snot? Can you really have an argument with a cloud? Are there bogey monsters at the bottom of the garden? These are just some of the unexpected questions answered as the tiny dinosaurs explore prehistoric life in a series of detailed and amusing cartoons. It's unusual and great fun - a different approach to an ever-popular topic.

The Ten Rules of Skimming by Zella Compton illus by Jess Swainson

A gripping and exciting debut novel, perfectly suited to the graphic novel format. Adam has a strange and uncanny power - he can skim into people's minds. He discovers the hard way that skimming is an amazing rush, until he is hunted down by the shadowy figures of The Board - the book opens with a frightening interrogation. The rules set by The Board must be followed, but Adam has to break them in a battle of wits as he struggles to find out who has taken his missing sister. It's a book which draws you in and grips you with its power and imagination and the illustrations convey a dark and sinister feel.

The Seven Voyages of Sinbad (Graphic Revolve) by Martin Powell

This is a concise and faithful adaptation, which manages to pack a great deal into a relatively small amount of text - shipwreck, fighting cannibals and a giant Cyclops. Of course, as a graphic novel, much of the story-telling is done through the pictures and these are dramatic and action-packed - perfect to capture the reader's attention. Hopefully, the interest engendered by this colourful re-telling will encourage the reader to search out the original. Slight confusion over the artist, who is differently credited inside the book!

... and the Blood Flowed Green (Murder Can be Fatal) by Alan Nolan

As you will guess from the series title, this is not a serious whodunnit! Marion ‘Mick’ Mulligan dreams of escaping his workaday life - but his dreams come true in a way he didn't expect! Abandoned on a lawless planet, he must fight through a series of exciting scenarios to enable him to return to earth. His sidekicks are not the brightest,and their combined activities are hilariously depicted in the comic strop format. A great book for reluctant readers.
Mirka is back and she's still the only sword-brandishing, monster-fighting Orthodox Jewish girl in town ...but that's about to change! A misguided troll aims a meteor at the witch's house, the witch grabs hold of the closest thing possible to transform the flying, flaming rock, which would be Mirka's hair. The meteor is changed, all right; it's now Mirka's identical twin. Doppelganger Mirka, vowing to be a better version of the real girl, sets out to charm all of Hereville, including Mirka's own family. Our heroine challenges the meteorite-girl to a three-part contest ...and the loser will be banished from Hereville for forever. To get the best out of the book read Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword the first in the series before reading this title.

Attack of the Invisible Cats (DC Super-Pets) by Scott Sonneborn

The Phanty-Cats have escaped from the Phantom Zone - but there's a problem finding them because they are invisible. So The Space Canine Patrol Agents must rely on their noses instead of their eyes to catch these criminal cats. Two pages at the end of the book name and picture each one of the cats and dogs, so there's lots of fun to be had spotting them. Not quite a graphic novel but there are lots of pictures and different fonts are used to good effect.

The Darkest, Baddest Graphic Novels (How to Draw) by Asavari Singh

Graphic novels are very popular and a great way to encourage reading. Now here's the chance to get inspiration to create your very own graphic novel. Step by step instructions guide you through the process of making a graphic novel. The drawings in graphic novels always look so complex, but once pictures are broken down, it is easy to see how to draw them. Create your own characters, dress them up, and then put them into action in your very own panels. This would be an excellent classroom resource to help inspire imaginative story telling.

Monster Beach (Mighty Mighty Monsters) by Sean O'Reilly

The 'aged' cover is eye-catching - I had to look twice to check I hadn't been sent a well-thumbed copy! The monsters set off for a relaxing day at the beach but when they meet a young, lonely Lock Ness Monster named Gil, their peace is over! Gil is is scared of the water so our helpful monsters help him find the confidence he needs to go into the sea and set off to find his family. But they get more than they bargained for! Vivid graphic pictures help tell the story and set the scene.

Sleeping Beauty: the Graphic Novel retold by Martin Powell

We all know the story of Sleeping Beauty - Once upon a time, an evil fairy cursed a young princess. On her fifteenth birthday, the princess pricked her finger on a spindle and fell into a spell of sleep... but this isn't quite the version we know. Set in Wales, the princess is cursed by the 13th fairy and sleeps until the prince braves danger and skeletons to rescue her. A gritty retelling of an old favourite that will appeal to a very different market. Discussion questions and writing prompts make this a great classroom resource.

Bigfoot and Adaptation (Monster Science) by Terry Collins

This is actually a non fiction book but I have chosen to put it in the graphic novel section as it will appeal to those looking for graphic novels and extend their interest into non fiction. The cartoon style uses Bigfoot to explain adaptation in a comic strip format that reads like a story but is actually packed with information. There is an extensive index too, making this book a good reference tool. An excellent way to introduce non fiction to reluctant readers and an interesting topic.

The Awakening (Good vs Evil) by Donald Lemke

In 1984, when he steps out of a subway, a teenager finds a cassette tape on the streets of Tokyo, Japan. At home, the teen sticks the mysterious tape into his Walkman and pushes play. Suddenly, an Oni-like creature awakens deep below the apartment building. It surfaces, seeking out the irritating music and chasing the boy to the rooftop — where both their fates will be decided. A gripping story with vivid drawings that reflect the tension of the story. A visual glossary and visual questions make this a good classroom resource and work equally well for the individual reader to help understanding of the book.

Men of Steel (Superman Adventures - DC Comics) by Paul Dini

More adventures of Superman! Luthor is angry about Superman's destruction of his Lex Skel 5000 battle suit and is out for revenge. A fast-moving action packed story that will appeal to all young fans of the character. The reader can find out about the creators, and enjoy a glossary; the visual questions and prompts ensure full benefit is gained from the story and provide an exciting way to ensure comprehension and enable discussion.

No Asylum (Batman Adventures - DC Comics) by Ty templeton

Another popular character who has great appeal for the young market and reluctant readers will hopefully be encouraged to d=read through Batman's exciting adventures. Someone has broken into Arkhaw Asylum, intent on hunting down Gotham's worst criminals. It's down to Batman to protect his city and recapture his greatest enemy. Another exciting story, presented with excellent graphic art to encourage and interest the reader.

The Recruit (The Graphic Novel) adapted by Ian Edginton from the book by Robert Muchamore

An adaptation of the first in a very popular series. A terrorist doesn't let strangers into her flat because they might be undercover police or intelligence agents. Her children's friends must be OK though - right? Wrong - one of these friends has bugged every room in her house, made copies of all her computer files and stolen her address book. The kid works for CHERUB. CHERUB agents are young people who undertake the high-risk role of spying on criminals and terrorists. A spine-tingling story which works brilliantly in the graphic novel format, a format which really brings the characters alive. The combination of the gritty story and the high quality comic-strip style illustrations make this an excellent way to capture reluctant readers.


Sweeney Todd (The Graphic Novel Full Text) from Classical Comics

A true story, or not? You will have to make your own mind up about that, but with such a gropingly retold version, does it matter? The narrative flows smoothly, greatly aided by the artwork which manages to convey the atmosphere without being at all gory. Basically sepia, which is perfect for Victorian London, the flashes of red lift the pictures and make key points stand out. All the period detail is accurate too. From his barber shop in Fleet Street, Sweeney Todd, the Fleet Street barber targets customers and murders them to steal their money and valuables. People are suspicious, but nobody knows how he does it. What happens to the bodies? Is there a connection with the nearby pie shop? Suspicious friends of those who have disappeared investigate. Ideal to support the curriculum for Victorian Gothic horror; for KS3 history; but equally of appeal to the general market.

Sweeney Todd (The Graphic Novel Quick Text) from Classical Comics

Want a quick read whilst retaining the feel of the original? Then this is the version for you. If you have reluctant readers - either your own, or in your class, then get them looking at this story and you will get them hooked. The text rattles along, but none of the drama or tension are lost. Hopefully, your reluctant reader will go on to read the full version, or more Classical Comics titles. The books can be used in parallel in the classroon, as the illustrations are the same in both. You only have to pick these books up to see what sets Cl\assical Comics apart from other graphic novels - they are weighty books, due to the high quality of the paper, which does full justice to the fantastic illustrations.

 An Egyptian Escape (A Charlie and Bandit Adventure) by K A Gerrard

Travelling in time - not just once, but twice! Charlie and Bandit travel back to 1906 to meet the grandchildren of archaeologist Professor Honeycut and then they all travel back to ancient Egypt! The comic book format allows for plenty of humour and is a format that will appeal to even reluctant readers. It's an enjoyable story, with plenty of action. Great to support KS2 work on the Egyptians with the fact-filled notebook at the end. Try this too -  Charlie and Bandit : A Roman Rescue (Charlie and Bandit Adventures)

Muhammad Ali - the King of the Ring (Campfire Biographies) by Lewis Hefland

Graphic books are an excellent way to draw in the more reluctant reader, as well as being an enjoyable read for everyone - perhaps as a change from heavily texted books. Most are in novel form, so it is good to see biographies included in this genre too, to interest those who enjoy non fiction. Starting life as Cassius Clay, Muhammad Ali started his boxing career at the age of 12 and became one of the greatest boxers the world has known. He gave up all his fame by standing up for his faith, almost losing his freedom in the process. An inspiring story of courage and faith, vividly depicted through the illustrations. At the end of the book, you will find interesting information about other prize fighters, and about the making of this book. 

The Treasured Thief (Campfire Graphic Novels) by Ryan Foley 

The Treasure Thief is a tale of Ancient Egypt and here  it is brought vividly up to date in a format to appeal to today's readers. A beautiful young princess travels to the grand city of Memphis to find a husband.  The questions she asks her suitors lead to her learning a dangerous secret. This is a vivid re-telling through the medium of speech bubbles and richly detailed comic strip style pictures  An emotional story bringing together many things - desperation, thievery, murder,  family, sacrifice, and love. An excellent way to bring another level of interest to studies of Ancient Egypt.

Dracula (The Graphic Novel Original Text) by Bram Stoker

Classical Comics bring us another stunning adaptation. Dracula comes alive! This well-known Gothic novel starts with young solicitor Jonathan Harker travelling to Transylvania to sell a house to a nobleman named Dracula. The punchy text draws the reader straight into the tension of the story and full use has been made of the artwork to heighten the tension and reflect the feel of the original book. The essence of the text has been retained so none of the atmosphere of the story is lost whilst making the text flow freely and the story move quickly. Stunning atmospheric artwork gives the reader a real insight into the characters. The perfect complement for KS3/4 teaching, this rendition really brings the story alive in a powerful way that will appeal to students. This, the original text version, uses wording taken directly from the original, giving the text real authenticity whilst keeping it flowing in a way that will capture attention.

Dracula (The Graphic Novel Quick Text) by Bram Stoker

All the wonderful artwork from the Original Text version is here, allowing the reader to switch seamlessly from one version to another. Perfect for last minute revision, or for anyone who wants an overview of the story, this edition is suitable for readers of 10+. The quality of the production of Classical Comics' books is exceptional - they are produced on top quality glossy paper and they are a real pleasure to handle - please, do take a look. No eBook could possibly compare! The attention to detail in the illustrations is phenomenal and I genuinely think Classical Comics' books get better each time. If you are teaching English, then get these books to inspire your students.

 Great Expectations (The Graphic Novel Original Text) by Charles Dickens

Another excellent adaptation from Classical Comics. The stunning artwork, with its contemporary feel, combined with the gripping text of the original make this a book that students will return to over and over again, making studies of English Literature a real pleasure. I really enjoyed re-visiting a story I last read at school and it brought a whole new dimension to the story of Pip, Miss Havisham and Estelle. Pip struggles to better himself in order to gain the affection of Estelle and we are drawn into his story through the drama of the illustrations.

 Great Expectations (The Graphic Novel Quick Text) by Charles Dickens

This version is in contemporary English and it is ideal to read to get a flavour of the story, to support studies of Victorian literature and for last-minute revision. Don't miss out on the full version, though! Usefully, there are also a comprehensive illustrated character list, biographical information about Dickens, and a summary of crime and punishment of the time - all these help the understanding of the book and its background - essential to get the full import of the story. There is also a Teachers' Pack available  Great Expectations Teachers' Resource (Classical Comics Study Guide)

Max Finder: The Case of the Movie Set Mischief and Other Mysteries by Liam O'Donnell and Michael Cho 

Ten mysteries to solve, ten bonus puzzles, DIY comic writing workshop and creator profile.
'This unique award-winning series combines graphic novel "solve-it-yourself" mysteries with exclusive bonus content including puzzles. Starring amateur detective Max Finder and his best friend, budding journalist Alison Santos, these two intrepid investigators must call upon their skills to crack each case. Short interactive adventure mysteries are packed with action, laughs and clues, and are perfect for readers who demand something more than just another mystery book. Bonus features develop readers' observation and logic skills.'


Max Finder: The Case of the Haunted Babysitter and Other Mysteries by Liam O'Donnell and Michael Cho

This series of books, in comic book format, is perfect for encouraging reluctant readers. The format is bright and colourful and the books are well produced on glossy paper, making them really appealing. An excellent series. The reader is drawn into the books by being given a series of dead ends and red herrings that challenge them to get at the truth. Ten graphic mysteries, three whodunnit short stories and bonus character profiles.


Max Finder: The Case of the Trail Trap and Other Mysteries by Liam O'Donnell and Michael Cho 

You, the reader, are invited to trace Max and Alison’s investigative steps to see if you can solve the mystery - who did it, how they did it and why they did it. Each interactive story is four pages long. The cases are quite challenging and will test the reader's deductive reasoning and observational skills. The detectives solve 10 mysteries - with the help of you, the reader. There are 10 code-breaking bonus puzzles, a sketchbook and comic drawing workshop - use the ideas to create your own mysteries (great way to develop creative writing), and creator profiles. A colourful and engaging series.

Max Finder: The Case of the Snake Escape and Other Mysteries by Liam O'Donnell and Michael Cho 

About the series - Whispering Meadows has plenty of secrets. Meet the duo that uncovers them. Amateur detective Max Finder and his aspiring journalist sidekick, Alison Santos, are on the case in this award-winning series of graphic novel 'solve-it-yourself' mysteries. Can you avoid the dead ends and red herrings to sort the victims from the villains? Test your detective skills to the max!  

The Boss by John Aggs and Patrice Aggs 

Nas and Bella overhear a crook planning a daring robbery at the castle.The Boss is the one who can help,  with Class Five which he has trained into a crime-fighting unit. The class is for a field trip to the castle that very day, so here's the chance to show off their skills. The comic format, combined with a really exciting and pact story, is just right to get reluctant readers involved. And the reader really does get involved, following the sleuths through this exciting story.

Wuthering Heights (The Graphic Novel Original Text) by Emily Bronte

All the ingredients of great literature are in this story of the thwarted and destructive love of Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff - tragedy, passion, romance, ghosts and more. The text is abridged but none of the power and passion of the original text is lost.and the artwork is dramatic and vivid. Classical Comics' graphic novels stand out way above others in the genre. The quality of the artwork (in this case, by John M Burns) is exceptional - the detail, relevance to the subject matter and the way they convey the emotions of the book are wonderful and I cannot start to imagine the hours of work that go into them. You can see some sample pages on the Classical Comics website - please take a look and see the quality for yourself. What you won't see is the sheer quality of the production of the books - heavy, glossy paper make them a delight and a truly satisfying read.


 Wuthering Heights (The Graphic Novel Quick Text) by Emily Bronte 

The quick text version has all the drama of the Original Text version, but in language easily accessible for today's young readers. Read this to get an overview of the story, or for last minute revision, but please - do read the original too! The artwork is identical to that of the Original Text, making the books ideal to read side by side or for differentiated teaching in the classroom. These books should be in every school - they do bring great literature to life in a way that will appeal to students. More - Great Expectations The Graphic Novel: Original Text (British English)  and Great Expectations The Graphic Novel: Quick Text (British English) ; Classical Comics: Frankenstein (Classical Comics: Original Text) , and Jane Eyre The Graphic Novel: Original Text (British English)  - all titles available in original text and quick text. 

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe adapted by Ian Graham

This well known adventure story tells of Robinson Crusoe's adventures when he is shipwrecked. The book includes useful background information about Daniel Defoe, Alexander Selkirk and pirates; unusually for a work of fiction, there is also an index. Graphic novels are an excellent way to engage readers, especially reluctant ones. The Graffex series is ideal for Upper KS2 or very early KS3. The layout is clear, with text, speech bubbles and colourful but uncluttered comic-strip style illustrations. The text is kept to a minimum but nothing of the story is lost. Some other titles available -  The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Graffex) , Moby Dick (Graffex)  and Dr.Jekyll & Mr.Hyde (Graffex)

 Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, adapted by Lewis Helfand

When I was first introduced to graphic novels, I was dubious about their value, but the excellent series produced by Campfire Books has made me see them in a much more positive light. Used as an introduction to classic works of literature, they will inspire a whole new generation to read and enjoy these works. After the introduction, in which Gulliver relates his early life, we follow him on four voyages, including his well known journeys to Lilliput and Brobdingnag. The wonderful illustrations really bring the story to life and will, I am sure, inspire readers to go on and read the original.

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, adapted by Bruce Buchanan

This is a novel by Alexandre Dumas, set in the 17th century, it recounts the adventures of a young man named d'Artagnan after he leaves home to become a guard of the musketeers. D'Artagnan is not one of the musketeers of the title; those are his friends Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, inseparable friends who live by the motto "all for one, one for all". This edition is one in the Campfire series of graphic novels, and like others in the series, succeeds very well in capturing the spirit of the original book whilst appealing to today's market. This particular title is a great one to get boys into reading as the presentation is guaranteed to appeal.

The Call of the Wild by Jack London, adapted by Lloyd S Wagner 

Another graphic novel by Campfire Books. The story tells of a previously domesticated dog named Buck, whose natural instincts return after a series of events leads to his serving as a sled dog in the Yukon during the 19th-century Klondike Gold Rush. the story is at once exciting and thought-provoking and the colourful comic strip formula is successful in conveying this. I think graphic novels are an excellent introduction to classic works of literature, as long as readers are encouraged to move on into reading the whole story and don't feel they have read it once they have read an abridged version.


 The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame adapted by Arjun Gaind

This story is really too well known to need any explanation, but here is a new way to follow Mole, Ratty, Badger, Mr Toad and all their friends as they enjoy their adventures. In contrast to the stark style of many graphic novels, this beautifully portrays the gentle life of the river bank in gentle colours used in pictures which bring the story to life and make it really easy for the reader to visualise these old favourites as they go about their lives. A lovely introduction to the stories from Campfire.

Beowulf retold by Jacqueline Morley

Graphic novels are a great way to introduce the great classics of literature. They draw children in and motivate them to read books which they may not otherwise attempt. This retelling of Beowulf introduces the characters and explains how the poem came to be written. The striking illustrations and speech bubbles will capture the attention. I especially like the inclusion of facts about the author, the poem and the historical setting, and the index is a useful feature. There are many more in the series, including Kidnapped and Oliver Twist. An excellent series.

 The most recent reviews are at the top of the page, so these are generally the most recently published books.


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