The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a magical tale of an orphan boy who maintains the clocks in a Paris train station while working on putting back together a robot his father had been working on before his death. Each chapter alternates between long sections of text and beautiful black and white illustrations. This graphic novel also presents some stills from the films of Georges Méliès, a character in Hugo who was also a real filmmaker and toy salesman. Brian Selznick weaves historical facts with a story that is sure to delight both children and adults and inspire readers to follow their dreams.
Robot Dreams by Sara Varon is a wordless graphic novel and a tale of friendship and regret. A dog and a robot are best friends until a trip to the beach leaves the robot unable to get up off the sand. The dog tries to go back and fix the robot but the beach is closed. Over the course of the next year, both characters think about “what might have been.” The robot imagines how the dog is living his life without him and how he can escape the beach and rejoin his friend. The dog tries to replace his friend with a duck who migrates south for the winter, anteaters whose food makes him sick, and a snowman who melts. By the time the next summer rolls around and the dog goes to get the robot from the beach, the robot has been taken to a scrapyard and put back together again by a raccoon. The dog regretfully orders another robot and proves he has learned his lesson: he doesn’t let him go swimming at the beach! Both funny and touching, this colorful and playful graphic novel can be enjoyed by children and adults.
In Anya’s Ghost, Anya is an immigrant desperate to distance herself from her former identity as an overweight foreigner with a thick Russian accent and a Goodwill wardrobe. She throws the Russian food her mother makes her in the trash on the way to school, lies about her last name (Brown instead of Borzakovskaya), and refuses to associate with the other Russian immigrant at her school, Dima. One day she falls into a hole and meets a 90-year-old ghost, Emily Reilly, who claims to have been murdered along with her parents after her fiancé was killed in World War I. Emily appears to be a helpful ghost at first. She looks at the other students’ tests and whispers the answers into Anya’s ear and even helps Anya accidentally bump into her crush Sean by sneaking a peek at his class schedule. But when Anya tries to solve Emily’s murder, she discovers that it was Emily who actually murdered two people, including her fiancé! Emily is not a helpful ghost after all but a vengeful one who sets her sights on murdering Anya’s family! Be sure to check out Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol to find out what other shockers are in store.
The Arrival by Shaun Tan is a very unique graphic novel as its story is told only through illustrations with no text throughout its six chapters. Instead, sepia tone drawings that mimic old photographs fill the pages. Through these pictures readers accompany the main character as he leaves his wife and daughter and travels by train and boat to a foreign country. The immigrant experience is chronicled as being an alien one and this is demonstrated through the appearance of fantastical creatures, surrealist images, and the imaginary language that appears on signs and maps in this “new world.” Readers also learn the stories of other immigrants that the main character encounters. The novel concludes with the man’s wife and daughter joining him and the daughter helping a fellow immigrant who has just arrived.
The classic science fiction tale A Wrinkle in Time has recently been made into a graphic novel, adapted and illustrated by Hope Larson. While the story from the book that was written 50 years ago by Madeleine L’Engle remains the same, this version is updated with vivid illustrations and modified text to present the material in a new way. Reluctant readers and fans of graphic novels will enjoy this engaging adaptation while fans of the original book will appreciate seeing it in a new light. Larson brings the characters to life and leaves readers eager to find out if Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and her friend Calvin will be able to save her father and the universe from the powers of darkness.