Drama

By Raina Telgemeier
240 pages, color
Published by Graphix/Scholastic Books

After the wild (and deserved) success of Raina Telgemeier’s autobiographical Smile, it was safe to say that hopes were high for her new graphic novel Drama. Unlike her previous books for Scholastic, it was neither a retelling of Telgemeier’s own life or someone else’s stories (her adaptations of Ann M. Martin’s Baby-Sitter’s Club books). But in cutting loose and telling a story about middle school students in drama club, I think that Telgemeier’s pushed her way into proving to readers that she’s not a one-hit wonder.

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Ghostopolis

By Doug TenNapel
272 pages, color
Published by Graphix/Scholastic Books

Doug TenNapel is a cartoonist that I have a small (very small) love/hate relationship with, in terms of his work. More often than not, I’ll find myself enjoying his book up until the conclusion, at which point everything falls apart. His book Flink three years ago evoked a strong enough reaction that I decided it was time to stop buying his books for a while. And then, unbidden, Ghostopolis showed up in my mailbox. If this wasn’t a good sign that it had been long enough that I should take another look, well, there probably wouldn’t be a better one.

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Missile Mouse Vol. 1: The Star Crusher

By Jake Parker
176 pages, color
Published by Graphix/Scholastic Books

When I read Flight Explorer Vol. 1 a couple of years ago, one of the stories that stood out for me was Jake Parker’s Missile Mouse. It was a fun, exciting story that mixed fast-paced adventure with beautiful art. For that reason alone, I was delighted when Scholastic published the full-length Missile Mouse: The Star Crusher graphic novel. But even having read Parker’s short story, I’ll admit that I was a little surprised with the contents of Missile Mouse, which managed to give me both more and less than I’d hoped for.

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Smile

By Raina Telgemeier
224 pages, color
Published by Graphix/Scholastic Books

If you ask someone for a story about going to the dentist, chances are they’re going to have a nightmare experience to tell you all about. I think having no bad dental stories either means you have an incredible amount of luck, you aren’t that old just yet, or you don’t go to the dentist. So on that note alone, there’s an instant hook for people to read Smile, Raina Telgemeier’s autobiographical story centered around a particularly nasty dental drama when she was a teenager. But in the case of Smile, it’s actually more of a window dressing for what I think is the real story at the center of the book, and that’s what makes it so compelling.

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Copper

By Kazu Kibuishi
96 pages, color
Published by Graphix/Scholastic Books

One of my favorite webcomics is Kazu Kibuishi’s Copper, so a collection of all the stories to date was going to be an automatic winner in my house. For fans who devoured all the strips online, there’s still an attraction for the print version; not only are they all collected in one place, but Kibuishi’s stories from the Flight anthologies are included as well, plus a step-by-step examining of how Kibuishi creates the comic. But more importantly, if you haven’t read Copper before? Think of a strange mixture of introspection, observations on the world, the comics of Jean "Moebius" Giraud, and Calvin & Hobbes.

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Baby-Sitters Club Vol. 4: Claudia and Mean Janine

By Raina Telgemeier
Adapted from the book by Ann M. Martin
192 pages, black and white
Published by Graphix/Scholastic Books

I admitted a few years ago that when I was much younger, I’d secretly read my younger sister’s Baby-Sitters Club books. It’s been a real joy reading Raina Telgemeier’s adaptations of the books since then; there’s so much cleverness and fun packed into each book, and Telgemeier does a superb of bringing them out. Claudia and Mean Janine is the fourth (and possibly final) adaptation in the series, and I think that Telgemeier has saved the best for last. It’s definitely the most serious of the four, but in some ways I think it’s what helps it be so strong.

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Good Neighbors Vol. 1: Kin

Written by Holly Black
Art by Ted Naifeh
144 pages, black and white
Published by Scholastic

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Ted Naifeh’s, especially when he’s working on books like Courtney Crumrin, or Polly and the Pirates; his ability to write and draw his young female characters as strong, intelligent protagonists has always been a real attraction. So, the idea of Naifeh teaming up with young adult novelist Holly Black seemed like a perfect match, with Black not afraid to tell dark, creepy stories that Naifeh himself is so good at.

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Knights of the Lunch Table: The Dodgeball Chronicles

By Frank Cammuso
144 pages, color
Published by Graphix/Scholastic Books

One of the things I’ve enjoyed the most about the increasing number of all-ages comics is that I’m seeing more and more talented creators launching books and series under its aegis. So, for example, when Frank Cammuso has a new graphic novel series from Scholastic Books that mixes junior high drama with Arthurian myths, I’m excited. Sure, I’m not the target audience, but when the book is this much fun that really isn’t a problem at all.

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Amulet Vol. 1: The Stonekeeper

By Kazu Kibuishi
208 pages, color
Published by Graphix/Scholastic Books

In mid-2006, Kazu Kibuishi temporarily placed his monthly webcomic Copper on hold so he could work on a new project, Amulet. I’ll admit that I was feeling more than a little grouchy at the time this knowledge came out; what was this strange new interloper that was coming between me and my beloved Copper? It was a little silly, with Kibuishi’s stories in the Flight anthologies as well as Daisy Kutter having certainly proven that Kibuishi wasn’t a one-trick pony. But in the back of my head was always the mantra, “Wait and see,” when it came to Amulet. Now the waiting is over—and trust me when I say that there is plenty of seeing to be done.

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Breaking Up

Written by Aimee Friedman
Art by Christine Norrie
192 pages, black and white
Published by Graphix/Scholastic Books

“Wouldn’t it be fun to go back and do it all again?” It’s a phrase that’s often aimed at the teenage/high school experience, and to be honest it’s a little mind-boggling. To me, high school life was punctuated with four years of confusing hormones, cruel teenagers (myself included), and generally immature behavior. Friendships were made and broken at the drop of a hat, no one had the answers they were looking for, and the rest of life was still one big question mark. Reading Aimee Friedman and Christine Norrie’s Breaking Up drove home two points along those lines for me. First, that high school really was exactly as I remembered it. Second, while I may be over twice as old as the characters in Breaking Up, some things in life really never do change.

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