Babymouse: Queen of the World! by Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm

I have heard a lot about Babymouse, mostly from one Colby Sharp. I had hesitated to dip my toes into that water, though. It seemed too juvenile, too girly, too. . .princessy, for lack of a better term. But Jennifer Holm is visiting Ann Arbor this week, and I couldn’t go to her talk without having read at least one Babymouse book.

Holy cow. I wish I had checked out all of them.

Quite frankly, I am in awe of this book. It starts out by introducing us to Babymouse, your typical pre-teen in that she is pretty certain that she is atypical. She wants more from her life than the same ol’, same ol’ every day (even though she wears only one outfit — apparently irony is not lost on Jennifer Holm, but is on Babymouse). She doesn’t seem to know how to shake things up, though.

But oh! If she could be friends with Felicia Furrypaws, it would all be different. The adventures they’d have! The fun that her life would become! And Felicia Furrypaws is having a sleepover party this weekend! THATWILLBEPERFECT! Babymouse makes some interesting choices to get invited to the party. To see how that goes, you’ll have to read it yourself.

Back to me being in awe of this book. The story is amazing (and has an awesome message for pre-teen girls), but the beauty is in the details. Books are clearly valued as treasures, but that’s never said aloud. True friendship is much more important than popularity, but nobody speaks those words. Being yourself is way better than being someone else, but nobody says that, either. All of these messages are imparted in the telling of the story, with no “moral of the story” type ending. That would be too cheesy for Babymouse. [Sorry; I know that cheese/mouse line was a stretch.]

Really, I think everyone should read this book. It’s quick (I think it took me about 20 minutes or so — shorter than it took to write this review), it’s hilarious, and it has a great message. 3rd grade is probably the right age to introduce this book, though I could be wrong about that (I really don’t know lower elementary). I loved this book, and I think you will, too.

Oh, and did I mention it’s a graphic novel? I didn’t? Well, that’s a pretty important part. And it’s very well done.

Rating: 5 out of 5 fish. 

Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge

Wow. Just: wow. I have been wanting to read this one since I saw the book trailer for it about a year ago. You know what? You should watch that book trailer before you continue on reading this post:

 

Okay. Do you have chills like I did? No? Go back and watch it again. DO YOU SEE THAT ARTWORK? Every page is like that. There’s just SO much. Okay, on to the review.

You basically got the story from the book trailer, but Paige Turner (her parents are writers. They thought it’d be cute. It’s not.) is a high schooler new to the big city. She’s very much an artistic introvert, who grew up in the country to boot. I’d say she’s an ISFP on the Myers-Briggs test. She’s pretty alone, and is also pretty sure she’ll always be that way and she hates that her family moved and why was it in the middle of the school year and. . .okay, there’s a little bit of angst in there. But someone does notice Paige, thanks to a comic she was reading. And there is hope for her yet. Follow her along as she draws in her sketchbook (which, in a meta book postmodern sort of way is actually the book we’re reading), finding herself by losing herself to herself. Or something witty sounding.

I put this book down a grand total of three times while reading it: once because I had to sleep, once because class was over, and once when I finished it. Along the way, I felt lots of strong emotions, often in dichotomous pairs: hope and despair, fear and love (yes, I believe those to be opposites; if you disagree, just go with it), acceptance and rejection, and though not necessarily an emotion: introverted and extroverted. The story is nice. It’s enjoyable. It’s fun. The artwork takes it to a hugely next level.

If this book were not a graphic novel, I would not have much use for it. It’s a story told and re-told by just about every teenager who has a creative streak trying to get out at every turn. But the art in this book. . .oh my GOODNESS! It just jacks up the story a thousand fold. It’s not like most graphic novels, where the art helps tell the story. The art actually doesn’t help the story all that much here. What it does is even better: it gives us the emotions, raw and undisturbed by words.

In case it’s not obvious by this point, I LOVE this book. I recommend it to anyone who is looking to get into graphic novels, but finds them a little too video-gamey or childish or cartoonish. This one’s different. And it’s worth it.

Quick aside: there are a few (as in, literally, 4) instances of some language or themes that would make this probably not okay for middle grade readers, but I have no qualms about handing this to 7th graders and up, especially girls.

Rating: 5 out of 5 fish.