I was having a lazy weekend. I needed reading material that would be fun for the kid me, and not overly taxing for the adult me. And I found two and a half books that fit the bill. I say two and a half because the third one had a bit more meat on the overall story than the others, so there was a bit more thinking required on my part. However, kids will eat all of them up as they are good stories.
The first I read was one I had seen around, but not heard much about, Leon the Extraordinary: A Graphic Novel (Leon Volume one). This book by Jamar Nicholas has a cover that makes you think one of three things: Kid wants to be a superhero, but since supers are not real, you need to be the best human hero. Or Kid learns he is a real life superhero and has powers. Or Kid has superpowers and learns to use them with all the growing pains of “normals”. So, which was it? A combo of all three. It is an interesting superhero story that shows, just because you do not have “Super Powers,” that doesn’t mean you are not a Superhero. But of course, the reverse is true too, you might have “Super Powers” but that does not mean you are a Superhero. So, we have the Kid, Leon, without powers, but learning his real power is his common sense and heart. Plus there are real superheroes (and by default, villains) and some go to school with Ordinaries. We have the girl who can transform into everything from a snake to a toll booth and the boy with one really large eye. Then there is Leon trying to do good, while trying to do well in school, learn the secret identities of superheroes, and facing zombified kids. There is diversity mixed in with a familiar story of fitting in, friendships, and judging before all the facts are in. The artwork is bold and bright, but felt a bit flat at times as they looked like illustrations without the “little something” that pulls you in (but they are far from being bad, it is just a style choice). This is for as young as 8 up to around 14 and has something for most readers.
The second book was a mixed up adventure that mixes science fiction, reality, talking animals and human problems. It is Meems & Feefs: Ferrets from Planet Ferretonia! (Volume one). It was the artwork that made the Liza N. Cooper graphic novel different. It was goofy, straightforward, colorful, and is good support for the story. I wish they had drawn noses! The story is funny (maybe not for everyone), as two ferret brothers from another planet make a traveling device they think will answer the questions as to why the very technology they are using is banned (I never said they were smart, just ferret brothers). There are the stereotypes: one brother the bossy one, the other dumb as rocks (except they are actually the smart one as they know what is really important) and then we have the mishaps that land our two aliens on Earth (or we assume earth, but then again, nobody has noses, so maybe Earth similar) and the ones on this new planet. We deal with parental absences, the death of a pet, issues with friends, school/grade issues, crazy neighbors (who should not be allowed to taxidermy things!), a really odd looking bat creature that is a side character, and trying to get our brothers home. Lots of bumps and bruises, misunderstandings and an ending I am not so sure makes me want to go onto book two, but at the same time, I am curious about a few things and need some answers (like those BATS!).
Then we get the book that tossed my lazy weekend for a loop. I think as a kid aged 10 to 14 I would have enjoyed this graphic novel (if I had read graphic novels back then), The Prisoner of Shiverstone by Linette Moor. But as an adult, something was missing, which were some plot points. There were jumps in the story arc that seemed out of left field or made me think “Sure I’d agree, if you tell me how the heck that came into play.” Overall, things are okay, and kids will enjoy it, but I think we need a little more background to help us see why the world is the way it is. Afterall, it is filled with scientists who are labeled Mad Scientists, so why are the scientists mad scientists,” and why are the prisoners (because no matter how many fancy parties you have, people are prisoners) the way they are (such as the one all fawn over is a bully)? The artwork is interesting and expressive. As it is mostly the story, as text is minimal, it moves things along and keeps things mostly simple and while not overly colorful, they are not muted either. There was depth to the illustrations that brings out what you need to know about most of the people, robots and other beings that live on this island.