Ben S.'s Book Reviews
Posted: September 23, 2023
This graphic novel takes a "connect-the-dots" approach to visual story telling, with its wordless protagonist and static scenes providing a fragmented narrative. The reader's mind is left to fill in the skeletal outline, leaving each reader to decide whether Mage is enduring a horrifying ordeal or going on a hopeful journey. Read it as many times as you wish; the Endless Unknown will always be waiting.
CW: Body Horror
Posted: August 29, 2023
True to name, Fern Haught's debut graphic novel is coziness incarnate. Haught's illustrations are soft and inviting, while their story blends fantasy and slice-of-life to create a tale that's as whimsical as it is relatable. The Baker and the Bard is the perfect young adult graphic novel for fans of Wendy Xu and K O'Neill.
Posted: August 10, 2023
Ink Girls is not just about speaking truth to power; it is a story of how and why people risk their lives to fight for what is right. Combining the nuance of Muhammad Najem, War Reporter with the heart and soul of Squire; Nijkamp and Bi have crafted an epic tale of political corruption and grassroots resistance. This graphic novel is a love letter to an open and free press, without glossing over the risks of opposing people in power.
Posted: August 3, 2023
What happens when a lonely old pirate finds a wayward penguin and decides to make it his new parrot? Find out for yourself in this charming picture book full of wit, humor, and all the best pirate lingo. Pirate & Penguin is sure to be a new read-aloud favorite.
Posted: July 27, 2023
Do you hate math? Do you hate it so much that you're willing to put yourself and friends in danger? If so then you have a lot in common with this charming graphic novel's plucky protagonist. As headstrong as she is math averse, Clementine Fox pulls her friends into an epic adventure of friendship, personal accountability, and life-or-death multiplication! This witty graphic novel is perfect for any student who struggles to see the point of math.
Posted: July 13, 2023
This beautiful bedtime story balances the grandness of the natural world with the everyday and familiar. Berger's mixed media illustrations seamlessly combine sheet music, buttons, and all sorts of ephemera to depict serene scenes laced with a warm glow of nostalgia. A tender story about the wonder of the world and a child's place in it, this picture book is the perfect end to a busy day.
Posted: July 13, 2023
A deeply moving story about a young boy learning to openly express his Islamic faith. This picture book is great for children struggling to embrace their family's culture outside of their home, by showing seven-year-old Muhammad's hesitation to pray at school. It is also the perfect way to foster tolerance by introducing children to the practices of their Muslim peers and demonstrating the importance of treating those practices with respect.
Posted: July 1, 2023
Jason Pamment answers the age old question of what would happen if Nemo had ended up on the Island of Misfit Toys. He doesn’t shy away from putting his protagonist in difficult situations, often showing him grapple with feelings of loneliness and alienation. Told through a world bursting with strange creatures and endless possibilities, this standalone graphic novel is one worth coming back to.
Posted: June 24, 2023
Darkly She Goes expertly inverts classic fairy tale troops to create a story entirely its own. The large pages combined with Mallie’s detailed illustrations allow for bombastic displays of action and emotion. Hubert’s writing pairs beautifully with Mallie’s art to create a tragic story that won’t easily be forgotten.
Posted: May 27, 2023
I picked this up because I loved the art style and I’m so glad I did! Peculiar Woods is heartfelt, funny, and delightfully weird. Nine-year old Iggie is new to town and discovers that it is full of talking everyday objects that hide from everyone except for him. When the king (a sentient chess piece) asks for his help, Iggie sets out with his chair and blanket companions on a wild adventure through some very peculiar woods.
Posted: May 20, 2023
Pilu of the Woods is sure to be resonant with any kid (or anyone) who has felt the need to suppress their emotions. Will(ow) is a young girl struggling to grapple with the loss of her mother. After fighting with her older sister, she and her dog go into the forest and where they find a lost tree spirit, Pilu. As Will helps her home, both children are made to confront the feelings they've tried to hide away.
Posted: May 6, 2023
I don't think anyone ever told Corey Tabor which orientation picture books are supposed to be; I hope they never do. Tabor uses the book's horizontal layout to brilliantly illustrate the story of a dog interacting with its reflection, distorting the images of the top page onto the surface of the "pond" beneath it. What might seem like a gimmick is executed so well that I can't imagine the story being told any other way.