Kids’ Club Review by Isabella: The Princess in Black

The Princess in Black, by Shannon Hale

I like the princess in black because princess Mongolia and her unicorn/horse can change whenever her ring buzzes. And they both use their special ability to save the day together

4 stars

Reviewed by Isabella from Miramar and Seatoun School , 8 years old

No superheroes: cool comic books without a cape in sight

Comic books, or graphic novels, are a new and very cool addition to our collection. We’ve got all your old favourites, like  Asterix, Lucky Luke and Tintin, but there’s plenty for you if you’d like to try something a bit different.  Superheroes are cool, but if you stick to reading about them you may miss out on some great reads! Here are a few of my favourites.

Hereville

Mirka is an eleven year old girl who lives with her family in a small Orthodox Jewish community. But, as the cover tells you, she’s not like most other girls. In first book, How Mirika got her sword, Mirka has to deal with the unruly pet pig of the local witch. In the second,  Mirka meets a meteorite,  a magical double gets her into all sorts of trouble. But it’s not just fantastic adventures; Mirka, who is hot tempered and reckless,  gets into scrapes with her family and the rest of her community and learns a lot about herself .  Her faith plays an important role in the story and you’ll learn a lot about how belief helps her when she’s feeling down.  There are only two books at the moment, but a third one is on its way.

 

A Game for swallows

A lot of graphic novels for older readers talk about the author’s lives. A game for swallows is about a girl living in Beruit during the Civil War in Lebanon which lasted for 15 years. The city of Beruit was divided and it was very dangerous to try and travel between different parts of the city.  One night, Zeina’s parents go out to visit her grandmother, who lives only a few streets away but don’t come back.  The people who live in their apartment building rally around Zeina and her brother and try to keep their spirits up while they wait for news.  Their neighbours are an interesting group of people who all have their own stories about how they came to be living there and how the war has affected them. This is book, though, is not just about sadness; it also shows how people can keep hope alive and have fun even in the hardest of times.

 

Spera

Spera follows two princesses, Lono and Pira, who go on the run after Lono’s father is killed.  Pira’s mother is an evil Queen who uses black magic, and their only chance for survival is to run to the mythical land of Spera. With them they have a shape-shifting fire spirit called Yonder, who acts as their protector, although the girls gradually learn to defend themselves. Obviously, they have many different adventures on their way, and there are more books to come.  Each different adventure is drawn by a different artist, so as well as being a good story the illustrations are amazing, matching the tone of each story being told. There’s also a second volume of Lono and Pira’s adventures.

 

 

 

The Secret of the Stone Frog

Leah and Alan are a brother and sister who suddenly wake up in a strange world.  This is nothing like you’ve ever seen before, with lions in suits, giant rabbits and talking buildings; everything’s drawn in black and white with lots of detail.  Alone and without help, they must somehow find their way back home.  If you liked Alice in Wonderland, you’ll love this book. It has the same feeling of everything being topsy-turvy and the wrong way round, and Alan and Leah have to work out the rules of this strange place, which is harder than it sounds.

 

 

Lio: there’s a monster in my socks

…and if there is, chances are Lio put it there himself. It’s fair to say that Lio’s not like other kids. He’s a mad scientist with a strange pets and a twisted sense of humour. Each of the comic shows Lio’s attempts to get even with his classmates, get by in class, or pull pranks on who ever is unlucky enough to be near him at the time.  Most of the stories are only a page long, and told in four panels of black and white drawings.  Short, easy to read, and pretty funny.  Of course, Lio doesn’t always suceed in his plans to cause chaos…

 

 

 

 

Salt Water Taffy

Jack and Benny are on vacation. Not to Disney World, not to New York, but to Chowder Bay; a sleepy small town on the coast. There’s no TV, Jack’s gameboy has run out of batteries, and their Dad needs quiet to finish his book.  They soon get dragged into a mystery (of course) and learn that Chowder Bay has all sorts of dark secrets and mysteries. But the book has its funny moments as well, and anyone who’s gone on a vanacation with just Mum and Dad and their annoying sibling (s) understand. In the first book, the boys meet an old fisherman and go off to search for a lake monster.

 

 

Amulet

What would you do with almost unlimited power? This is the question that Emily must answer when she finds an amulet that gives her powers in a strange and magical world.  She and her brother Navin set out to explore this world and rescue their mother from the grasp of the dark forces. This is a great adventure story, and once again, the first in a brilliant series. The illustrations are particularly amazing, as they are in colour and beautifully detailed.

 

 

 

 

Hilda and the Midnight Giant

The cover of this book is a bit misleading. It shows Hilda, the main character, standing among a cluster of small buildings. But Hilda isn’t the giant mentioned in the title…but to say more would ruin the story. It’s quite unique; Hilda takes the existence of creatures of elves and giants for granted. Instead of being taken to a fantasy world, she can recognise the fantastical elements of her own. The illustrations are fantastic (again) and beautiful, despite being quite simple. It’s a must read if you’re looking for a magical story that’s a bit different from all the others.  There’s also another book about Hilda, called Hilda and the Bird parade.

 

Francis Sharp in the grip of the Uncanny

A vivid imagination helps Francis escape the realities of life; he doesn’t get on with his parents and life on the farm  during the Great Depression is hard. Unfortunately, it also gets him into a lot of trouble.  He finds himself in a strange town full of strange creatures with no idea how to get home again.  He does find allies, but his arrival has been noticed. This is a great book, the first in a four part series. While you may take a while to warm up to Francis,  you’ll want to keep reading to work out the mysteries the first book sets up.