Daniel X: Alien Hunter, a graphic novel by Jame Patterson (ARC)

James Patterson expands his Daniel X adventure with Daniel X: Alien Hunter, a graphic novel.  I had a student a few years ago who loved James Patterson’s young adult novels.  I even made a few accelerated reader quizzes for him, so he could get extra credit.  I respect Patterson for motivating preteen and teen boys to read.

This graphic novel is a quick read full of action and mystery.  Daniel’s parents were murdered, and he discovers that his father was an alien who hunted outlaw aliens on Earth.  Daniel finds his father’s list of outlaw aliens and is on a mission to find his parents’ killer.  Over time Daniel has practiced and honed his own alien powers.  He can use his imagination to create just about anything he wants, including friends.

Daniel is hunting #7 on the list in this installment of the story.  Patterson includes enough twists, turns, and monsters to keep young readers turning the pages.  Daniel’s foe is almost too much for him.  I imagine the most interested age group would be boys 9-12.  My seven-year-old has already asked if he can read it when I’m done.  I’m not sure he can keep up with dialogue or the vocabulary, but I’ll let him give it a shot.

I find Patterson’s writing a little heavy handed at times for a graphic novel.  For example, when it starts to rain, Daniel actually says in a thought bubble, “It’s starting to rain. I’d better get inside.” Well, we have the picture.  We can see that it’s raining.  The art appears to be computer generated.  It looks good, but its not spectacularly original.   Overall, I think its a graphic novel preteens will like.

Into the Volcano by Don Wood (Early Reviewer Book)

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I’ve been trying to think of unique ways to describe this graphic novel without using “visually stunning” and “breathtakingly beautiful,” but I can’t do it.  Every panel is a work of art.  The scenes where the lava meets the ocean are perfect.  It’s just ink on a page, but Wood captures the light, the hiss, and the heat.  The graphic novel not only stands up to artistic scrutiny, but also has a gripping story.

It’s a mystery- adventure that appeals to a younger audience, but I found myself engrossed. Brothers, Sumo and Duffy, are pulled out of class unexpectedly by their father to be shipped off to an island with a mysterious cousin they’ve never met.  The whole enterprise is shady, and when the boys meet Auntie, it gets even more suspicious.  The book twists and turns, so the reader is never quite sure who’s good and who’s bad.  The boys have to do some self-reflection.

Wood’s artistic portrayals of the characters captivated me.  I was shaken by overweight Auntie with her greenish-pink skin and broken foot.  I immediately knew something wasn’t quite right with her.  You can almost smell her.  The boys have a  pugish Hawaiian look, which made me not fall for them right away.  That’s a good thing.  Most books aimed at younger audiences try to win the reader over to the protagonist’s side with sentimentality too soon. Wood’s style and scope gives the book a cinematic depth that I have rarely seen in graphic novels.  One panel you’re in the boat with the characters, waves pounding; the next you have a bird’s eye view.  It sets a fast adventure pace that young readers will love.

Overall, I’ll be shocked if Into The Volcano doesn’t win some awards.

ijustfinished.com

Maus- Art Spiegelman

After playing the Indiana Jones Legos game on the Wii and seeing the triology box set of the movies, my eldest son has become interested in WWII and the Nazis as bad guys.  That reminded me of the seminal graphic novel Maus by Art Spiegelman.  Since the Nazis portrayed the Jews as vermin to be exterminated, Spiegelman draws the Jews as mice and Nazis as cats.  This cat and mouse metaphor makes the reader comfortable with the very serious material using seemingly harmless animal comic characters, but it also creates many levels of meaning dealing with racial stereotypes, nationalistic identities, and the commonality of humanity.

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Art Spiegelman