Currently viewing the category: "Graphic Novels/Comics"

The Time Museum
Author: Matthew Loux
Published February 21st, 2017 by First Second

Summary: The internship program at the Time Museum is a little unusual. For one thing, kids as young as twelve get to apply for these prestigious summer jobs. And as for the applicant pool . . . well, these kids come from all over history.

When Delia finds herself working at the Time Museum, the last thing she expects is to be sent on time-traveling adventures with an unlikely gang of kids from across the eons. From a cave-boy to a girl from the distant future, Delia’s team represents nearly all of human history! They’re going to need all their skills for the challenge they’ve got in store . . . defending the Time Museum itself!

Review: Delia’s life changes drastically when she learns the truth about her uncle and his career running the Time Museum. Unlike any museum that she’s ever been too, the Time Museum curates directly from historical periods by traveling through time. Because of her love of science and high intelligence, Delia is chosen not to only spend some time at the Time Museum but also to compete with five others for a coveted internship! This competition includes challenges that take them to different points in time and a task they have to compete. 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Loux’s adventure-packed though humorous sci-fi novel will find a wide range of readers because it hits on so many different genres and is so well done. This is definitely a book to pick up for your graphic novel, sci-fi, and adventure fans! (Oh, and as a teacher, I mus say I love the theme!)

Discussion Questions: If you found the Time Museum, what time period would you want to visit?; Which of the characters have traits that are most similar to you?; What are the dangers of time travel? Do you think it’s worth it?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Loved: Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel, Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi, Lucy and Andy Neanderthal by Jeffrey Brown, Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown, HiLo by Judd Winick

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In 2016, I am so proud of myself that I read 291 books! My goal was 250, so I surpassed it–YAY! Last year I finished 288, but I was able to keep track of first reads of so many picture books that I have now read over and over again and wasn’t able to put as 2016 books because I wanted to keep their original date on Goodreads, so I am considering this year a much better reading year.

Today, I want to share with you 60 favorites (broken up into 5 categories) from the 291 that I read in 2016. If you haven’t read any of these, put them on your TBR now!!!!!
*These are books I read in 2016, not books that were published (only) in 2016
**In no particular order
***I included links to Unleashing Readers reviews if I wrote one

My 15 Favorite Fiction Picture Books I Read in 2016

hug-machine one-day shy A Child of Books Rosie Revere

ada twist iggy peck pirasaurs the day the crayons came home thank you book

a piece of home return we found a hat dear dragon nibbles

Shy by Deborah Freedman
A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston
Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty
Pirasaurs! by Josh Funk
A Piece of Home by Jeri Watts
Return by Aaron Becker
We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen
Dear Dragon by Josh Funk
Nibbles: The Book Monster by Emma Yarlett

My 10 Favorite Non-Fiction Books I Read in 2016

giant-squid adas-violin antsy-adams Dorothea's Eyes radiant-child

i-dissent hillary rodham clinton some-writer Enchanted Air loving-vs-virginia

Antsy Ansel by Cindy Jenson-Elliott
Dorothea’s Eyes by Barb Rosenstock
Hillary Rodham Clinton by Michelle Markel

My 5 Favorite Graphic Novels I Read in 2016

hilo-3 outside-circle Nameless City narwhal alamo

My 20 Favorite Middle Grade Novels I Read in 2016

orbiting-jupiter perry-t-cook seventh-wish ghost charmed-children

some-kind-of-happiness counting-thyme echo upside-down-magic cloud-and-wallfish

SUMMER final cover image (2) still a work in progress moo ms bixby masterminds

war that saved far-from-fair sophie quire honest truth raymie

Still a Work in Progress by Jo Knowles
Ms. Bixby’s Last Day by John David Anderson
Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard by Jonathan Auxier
The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart
Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

My 10 Favorite Young Adult Novels I Read in 2016

honestly-ben last-true-love-story more happy than not rescued salt to the sea

all american boys mexican darkest-corners great-american all fall down

Rescued by Eliot Schrefer
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

This year was a phenomenal reading year; I hope yours was too! Here’s to another year full of books and stories!

Kellee Signature



Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

How the World Was

How the World Was: A California Childhood 
Author: Emmanuel Guibert; Translation: Kathryn Pulver
Published: July 15, 2014 by First Second

Summary: In 1994, French cartoonist Emmanuel Guibert befriended an American veteran named Alan Cope and began creating his new friend’s graphic biography. Alan’s War was the surprising and moving result: the story of Cope’s experiences as an American GI in France during World War II.

How the World Was is Emmanuel Guibert’s moving return to documenting the life of his friend. Cope died several years ago, as Guibert was just beginning work on this book, but Guibert has kept working to commit his friend’s story to paper. Cope grew up in California during the great depression, and this remarkable graphic novel details the little moments that make a young man’s life…while capturing the scope of America during the great depression.

A lyrical, touching portrait, How the World Was is a gift for a dear friend in the last moments of his life… and also a meditation on the birth of modern America.

Review: Many of you know Emmanuel Guibert’s graphic novel Alan’s War. Guibert is a French cartoonist who tells the true story of Alan Cope, an American GI in France in WWII. How the World Was: A California Childhood depicts Alan’s earlier childhood experiences, growing up during the Great Depression in California. The graphic novel is unlike others that I’ve read, and I really enjoy Guibert’s style. The chapters read like vignettes of Cope’s childhood; some of the scenes are graphic, and many are quite moving. This text would be excellent for close reading, and I don’t think readers even need to read it in its entirety to appreciate and understand each chapter.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: I’d love to use this text in the classroom, and I would probably use a single chapter. (This would inspire readers to take the entire book out on their own, which is a style I love to use when I am teaching.) I was particularly moved by the end of the book, where Alan’s mother goes in for surgery. I’d love to do a close reading of this section to discuss author’s purpose and Alan’s identity development.

Discussion Questions: How does this graphic novel differ from others that you’ve read?; How is the author’s writing style similar to short vignettes? Why might he have chosen to write the book in this why? Is it effective for you, the reader?; What scenes stand out to you? Why might this be?

Flagged Passage: I’ve included a section that stands out to me. It is a bit peculiar to include in a graphic novel, but there is a lesson in the pages that follow. I imagine that censors would be horrified to see this page alone, but within the context of the chapter, it is a very important scene.

how the world was

Special thanks to for sharing this scene in his reviews. It’s a good one.

Read This If You Love: The Photographer by Emmanuel Guibert; Alan’s War by Emmanuel Guibert; The Stranger by Albert Camus; The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Recommended For:

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Red’s Planet: A World Away From Home
Author and Illustrator: Eddie Pittman
Published April 19th, 2016 by Amulet Books

Summary: Red, a quirky, headstrong 10-year-old, longs to live in her own perfect paradise far away from her annoying foster family. But when a UFO mistakenly kidnaps her, Red finds herself farther away than she could have possibly imagined—across the galaxy and aboard an enormous spaceship owned by the Aquilari, an ancient creature with a taste for rare and unusual treasures. Before Red can be discovered as a stowaway, the great ship crashes on a small deserted planet, leaving her marooned with a menagerie of misfit aliens. With her newfound friend, a small gray alien named Tawee, Red must find a way to survive the hostile castaways, evade the ravenous wildlife, and contend with Goose, the planet’s grumpy, felinoid custodian. Surely this can’t be the paradise she’s looking for.

Teaching Guide: 

Pittman’s new graphic novel series will be a big hit with adventure and sci-fi lovers!

The teaching guide can also be viewed here.

Recommended For: 

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Musnet: The Mouse of Money
Author and Illustrator: K. Kickliy
Published August 2nd, 2016 by ODOD Books

Summary: Musnet: The Mouse of Monet is a delightful new children’s graphic novel by Kickliy, set in Giverny, France in the mid 19th Century. The eponymous boy mouse travels the countryside searching for work and happens upon Monet’s garden. There, he takes a job with a brilliant squirrel artist, and in the process is inspired to paint as well. Will Musnet commit to painting in the classical manner, or in the thrilling new style of the human impressionists? Which way will his brush sway?

Set in the midst of one of the great moments in the history of art, Musnet is a bildungsroman of an aspiring young artist, a mouse with his eye on the new impressionistic style that was taking the world by storm. Kickliy’s fluid ink and watercolors evoke the magic of the period and a French countryside just bursting with color. And Musnet and Monet’s paintings within this story are actually mini-oil paintings of Kickliy’s.

The first in a series, Musnet: the Mouse of Monet is the mysterious artist Kickliy’s first foray into the world of children’s literature, and will include a traveling gallery showing of the art within the book itself. Uncivilized Books is proud to launch its new children’s imprint, Odod Books, with this brilliant examination of impressionism and the artistic urge that will enrapture children of all ages.

Review: I love when books include art history in them because it makes me feel at home since I grew up in art museums as a museum director’s daughter. Musnet is no different. As soon as I realized that Musnet had ended up in Monet’s famous garden, I was fascinated with Musnet’s story and his journey to becoming an artist. Kickliy’s artwork pays perfect homage to Monet’s work and is a beautiful backdrop to Musnet’s story. I look forward to reading the second in the series. 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Musnet’s story would be a perfect book to incorporate in a art classroom. Throughout art education, different famous artists are studied, and while studying Monet, I could definitely see the teacher using this text as a read aloud and a discussion starter (see discussion questions below).

Discussion Questions: Why would the author choose Monet as the artist for Musnet to find?; How is Kickliy’s art similar to Monet’s?; Do you think Musnet has found his forever home? Explain.

Flagged Passages: 


Read This If You Loved: Mira’s Diary by Marissa Moss, The Museum by Susan Verde, Babymouse series by Jennifer and Matthew Holm, The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo, Redwall by Brian Jacques

Recommended For:

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**Thank you Uncivilized Books for providing a copy for review!**

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Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

Fun Home

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
Author: Alison Bechdel
Published: June 5, 2007 by Mariner Books

Summary: In this graphic memoir, Alison Bechdel charts her fraught relationship with her late father.

Distant and exacting, Bruce Bechdel was an English teacher and director of the town funeral home, which Alison and her family referred to as the Fun Home. It was not until college that Alison, who had recently come out as a lesbian, discovered that her father was also gay. A few weeks after this revelation, he was dead, leaving a legacy of mystery for his daughter to resolve.

Review: I don’t tend to read many adult books each year, but I kept seeing this book referenced. I noticed it was a 2007 publication, and when books are still being discussed frequently almost ten years later, you know they have to be good! I finally requested it from my library, and boy did I love it. I usually try to review only new books, but this book was too good not to share. I felt deeply connected with Alison and her life—despite the fact that it is nothing like mine. I was really drawn to the psychological themes she embedded and the phenomenal writing. She is incredibly smart, and this shines in her writing. The drawings are equally captivating. I am not surprised that young adults tend to read this book. It’s quite edgy and many sections made me blush, but I know this doesn’t stop teens. I will be thinking about this book for a long time.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: I am not a stranger to controversy, but I’d probably use this book for close reading because the images might be a bit uncomfortable for some (but not most!) of my students. There is a lot of nudity, and there are sexually explicit drawings. That said, I most certainly would have it in my classroom (nothing stops me, controversy-wise, if a book is really good and a great learning tool). A close reading of many of the beginning chapters would lead to fantastic conversations about family dynamics and psychology. There is so much to teach from this book: Tone, Author’s Perspective, Vocabulary, etc. 

Discussion Questions: How does Alison navigate her childhood?; What is her response to her father’s death? Why might this be?; What role does the Fun Home play in her life? How does this graphic novel differ from others that you’ve read?; How is the author’s writing style similar to short vignettes? What scenes stand out to you? Why might this be?

Flagged Passage: 

Fun Home ImageSource of Image

Read This If You Love: How the World Was: A California Childhood by Emmanuel Guibert; The Photographer by Emmanuel Guibert; Alan’s War by Emmanuel Guibert; The Stranger by Albert Camus; The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Recommended For:

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Top Checked Out Books 1516

Yearly, starting with 2013-2014, I have shared the most popular books in my classroom library:
2013-2014 Top Books for Struggling/Reluctant Middle School Readers
2014-2015 Top Checked Out Books by Kellee’s Middle School Readers

In 2013-2014, I taught an intensive reading class with students who had not been successful on the state reading test; however, last year and this year, I switched to teaching advanced reading, but my library is still available for the three intensive reading classes in my school. The books below are the top 15 graphic novels and the top 15 novels checked out from my classroom library.

The most read and loved books of 2015-2016 in my 6th-8th grade classroom library.
**I did combine some series into one if all of the books in the series were high volume check outs.**

Top 15 Checked Out Graphic and Illustrated Novels

15. Maximum Ride Manga #1 by James Patterson

maximum ride manga

14. Nnewts by Doug TenNapel


13. Cleopatra in Space series by Mike Maihack

cleopatra cleopatra 2 cleopatra 3

12. Sidekicks by Dan Santat


11. El Deafo by Cece Bell

el deafo

Review of El Deafo

10. Bad Island by Doug TenNapel


9. Sunny Side Up by Jenni L. Holm

sunny side up

Review of Sunny Side Up

8. Explorer series edited by Kazu Kibuishi

explorerboxes explorer explorer hidden

Teaching Guide for Explorer 1 & 2

7. Cardboard by Doug TenNapel


6. Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel


5. Dogs of War by Sheila Keenan

Dogs of War

4. Drama by Raina Telgemeier


Review of Drama

3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney

diary of a wimpy kid

2. Smile and Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

FC_BC_9780545132060.pdf sisters

1. Amulet (series) by Kazu Kibuishi
**By far the most popular book in my classroom since book #1 came out**

amulet amulet2 amulet3 

amulet4 amulet5 amulet6 firelight

Graphic novels are very popular with ALL of my readers. I think there are many reasons why graphic novels are favorites: helps students visualize, fun to read as many of these students have only found reading to be a horrible chore, and colorful! Graphic novels are something I truly believe will help students love reading more and become better readers, and if you look at how much these students are reading and increasing in their reading ability, I think they back me up. (To see more research about the importance of graphic novels, check out my graphic novel teaching guide with Abrams.)

Top 15 Checked Out Novels

15. Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

snicker of magic

14. Twerp by Mark Goldblatt


13. Tiara on the Terrace by Kristen Kittscher

tiara on the terrace

Review of Tiara on the Terrace

12. Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

night gardener

11. Kingdom Keepers by Ridley Pearson

kingdom keepers

10. I, Q by Roland Smith

i, q

9. Wake by Lisa McMann


8. Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

counting by 7s

7. Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

red pyramid

6. The Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan

heroes of olympus

5. The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart

honest truth

4. Stung series by Bethany Wiggins

stung cured

3. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

harry potter series

2. Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz

alex rider series

1. Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan 

percy jackson series

As you can tell, series are very popular. Students love to be able to keep reading about characters. And Rick Riordan is a middle school rock star! Number 4, 8, 12, and 14 were on our 2015-2016 state award list (Stung won our state award!), and number 5 is on next year’s list.

What books/series do you find to be most popular with your middle school readers?
Have you found success with the books I listed above?
Have you read any of the books I’ve listed? Did you enjoy them?

I hope this list of books helps point you in the direction of some texts that your readers will truly love!