Bethany's Readers' Advisory

The place to go for readers' advisory on books for children, teens, and adults

Paul Has a Summer Job by Michel Rabagliati September 26, 2011

Paul is a high school dropout working at a factory printing tickets and running errands.  When he gets a call from a friend asking him to work at a summer camp for underprivileged kids, Paul agrees.  He spends the next few weeks working hard- lifting, swimming, even learning rock climbing.  When the first group of kids arrive, he worries he’s in over his head.  After some harsh words from one of his fellow counselors, Paul learns to relax and get along with the kids.  The summer goes quickly; all too soon it’s time to leave his new friends and new love.  But it’s an experience that sticks with Paul for the rest of his life.

Paul Has a Summer Job is a graphic novel with a story to tell.  When the book begins, you suspect Paul is a slacker, but he really blooms when his feet are to the fire at the camp.  His character is authentic and the author artfully portrays this through his use of “thought bubbles” and facial expressions.  This is a graphic novel for adults who are hesitant about graphic novels.


Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri June 1, 2011

Boy Slays Girl in Gangland Shooting was the headline in the Chicago Sun Times in 1994 when eleven-year-old Robert “Yummy” Sandifer shot and killed a fourteen-year-old girl.  Yummy’s classmate, Roger, is trying to figure out what happened to make his classmate do such a horrible thing.  Was it Yummy’s hard childhood, without parents to show him right from wrong?  Was it the gang he wanted to impress- the same gang Roger’s brother belongs to- that gave him the gun?  Was Yummy just a cold-blooded killer?

Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty is a dramatization based on a true story.  The graphic novel format and art style effectively portray the gritty content.  The story is told in a way that lets readers form their own opinions about whether Yummy was a bully or a victim.  Highly recommended for older teens and adults.


Dying to Meet You: 43 Old Cemetery Road by Kate Klise May 22, 2011

Ignatius B. Grumply needs a place with peace and quiet to end his writer’s block and write his next bestselling book.  He chooses a Victorian mansion in Ghastly, Illinois and has his lawyer sign the paperwork on his behalf.  When he moves in, he realizes this isn’t the sanctuary he was seeking.  There is an eleven-year-old boy and a cat living on the third floor and someone (the boy, right?) who slams doors, cooks dinner, and plays the piano.

The realtor informs Mr. Grumply that the boy and the cat come with the house, and the boy’s parents will come back for him when he stops talking nonsense about his friend, Olive, the ghost.   Will Olive and the boy be able to convince Grumply there is such thing as a ghost?  Will Grumply ever write his bestselling book?

This book had a fun format- it is a self-proclaimed epistolary graphic novel.  The characters communicate by writing letters back and forth.  There are other graphics that add to the storyline including portraits of the characters and newspaper articles.  The characters also have clever names like the realtor, Anita Sale.  This is a quick, entertaining read.


American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang November 12, 2010

Have you ever wished you were someone else?  Someone better looking, more popular, someone who just fits in?  The Monkey King can relate; he was humiliated when he was not let into a party just because he was a monkey.  Jin Wang can relate; he is one of the only Chinese kids at his school and his dream girl has eyes for a guy with blonde hair.  Danny can relate; his cousin visits from China every year just to embarrass him at school with his weird accent and gross food.  The stories of all three outcasts are in this graphic novel.   See what happens when they try to deny who they are and try to be just like everyone else.


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