I grew up reading comics and graphic novels mainly because I was only allowed to borrow six books per week from my local library. Today I can borrow up to thirty books at a time and past self is very jealous of current self. After I devoured all of my own library books I would then move on to the books my brother got from the library and his favourites were Asterix and Tintin. Then I would finally sneak away his ‘Roy of the Rovers’, such was my insatiable appetite for reading. Hopefully he won’t be reading this and find out what tricks I got up to as a child. I think this has hugely influenced the books I enjoy as an adult as I’m still drawn to books with pictures be it highly illustrated picture books for older readers, graphic novels or any books were the story has been brilliantly enhanced by illustrations. So today I’m sharing with you some of my favourite recent releases.
We’re huge fans of the Hilda series by Luke Pearson at home and at school, so the arrival of a new book, ‘Hilda and the Mountain King,’ caused huge excitement. After a hectic adventure in the stone forest leaves Hilda, her mum and Twig feeling a little worse for wear, she swears her days of sneaking out are over. That nights, she settles into a deep slumber, only to wake up and find she’s right back in troll territory – and this time without any back up! How did she get there and will she be able to get back to Trolberg? And what does the fearsome Mountain King have to do with any of it? This is another brilliant addition to this series, full of thrills, spills and humour that will keep children thoroughly entertained. I particularly enjoy Luke’s attention to detail, there is so many layers to the story which you can explore every time you read it. He captures Hilda’s emotions brilliantly and creates an incredible sense of drama which builds carefully and will keep your child totally engaged throughout. His use of colour alternating between strong warm colours and dark muted colours add to the tension and highlight when danger lies ahead. Another joyous read from Luke Pearson.
‘Kai and the Monkey King,’ is the latest instalment in the fabulous Brownstone’s Mythical Collection, brilliantly written and sublimely illustrated by Joe Todd-Stanton. Kai and her mum Wen have been tasked to help a village to defeat a terrible monster, while Kai wants to rush in and tackle it, her mum insists they bide their time and find out more. Locked away in a library while her mum researches, Kai gets restless and when wandering the stacks discovers an ancient stroll which tells the tale of the Monkey King. Convinced that freeing the Monkey King is the key to defeating the monster, Kai sets off an a dangerous and thrilling quest to prove she has what it takes to defeat the beast all on her own. Perfect for lovers of bold and fearless adventure-seeking children, this book is absolute triumph from start to finish. Each spread is sumptuously illustrated and captures the spirit of the story magnificently. An absolute gem of a book that I know will be hugely enjoyed at school.
Claire is determined to right all the wrongs in the world from overdue library books to careless droppers of chewing gum, no wrongdoers are safe when she’s about. To complete her mission she must become Justice Ninja and together with her hapless sidekick Nigel she will stop at nothing to see justice served. Sometimes things don’t always go exactly to plan but Claire doesn’t let these small hiccups get in the way of her desire to set the world to right. Brilliantly funny, this is observational comedy at it’s very best, the illustrations capture Claire’s wildly imaginative personality perfectly. I particularly like the Nigel tips section which look like they’ve been ripped straight out of his journal. I can see this being a huge hit at school with it’s crazy plot lines and vibrant comic strips, it’s a really fun and frenetic read.
Having grown up devouring Asterix books I was really intrigued to see if this new adventure from Jean-Yves Ferri and Didier Conrad would meet up to my high expectations. It’s always difficult to step into the shoes of such iconic writers and illustrators but they manage to bring Asterix and Obelix back to life superbly, capturing all the quirks and eccentricities of the original characters. When a mysterious girl arrives in the village – who happens to be the daughter of a brave chieftain who was defeated by the Romans – she is placed under Asterix and Obelix’s watch. But the Romans are determined to capture her and it becomes increasingly difficult to look after her when she gives them the slip. Can our heroes get to her in time? I just loved Adrenalin with her hatred of girl’s clothes and her ardent desire not to be looked after, she makes for a really feisty and fabulous heroine. Once I started reading this I was immediately transported back to my childhood and reminded of the reason why I spent so many hours reading these books. Filled with joyful humour and bundles of mayhem this is an absolute joy from start to finish.
If there was an award for the author who has created the most arguments in the library then it would have to go to Jamie Smart. We have an unhealthy obsession with Jamie’s Bunny vs. Monkey graphic novels, which wars being raged on a daily basis over who gets to borrow the returned copy. So when I heard Jamie had written ‘Flember: The Secret Book’, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy and I couldn’t be any happier with this hilarious and madcap adventure. Featuring a mysterious island , a strange and mystical power called Flember and a boy-inventor who uncovers a long-forgotten secret, this is a story that demands to be read. Capturing the chaos and creativity of Jamie’s graphic novels, his fans are in for a real treat. I have children who are massively intimidated by books filled with only words but who will devour graphic novels and for me I know that their eyes will light up when they get to see a book that still gives them the joy of a comic but always offers something a little bit different but just as fun. I cannot recommend this book enough and I’m bracing myself for a raft of reservations requests when it hits the library shelves.
Thank you to David Fickling Books, Flying Eye Books and Hachette for sending me gifted copies of these fabulous books. All of these books are available to buy online (click on the title to buy) or from any good bookshop.