Review: Swing It, Sunny

51Dl5f8bEEL._SX342_BO1,204,203,200_Book: Swing It, Sunny
Authors: Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
Genre: MG Graphic Novel, Historical
Rating: 3 Stars

Basic plot: Sequel to Sunny Side Up. Sunny’s back home and starting middle school. But she’s having a hard time adjusting to the absence of her big brother, Dale. (Note: This is a Graphic Novel.)

WHAT’S COOL

1) The theme of the happy-go-lucky television show… How everything seems slick and fine on the outside, but there’s got to be conflict somewhere.

2) I love it when Gramps pops into the story. First on the telephone, but also for a visit later on. (Too bad the “Girls” from the first book couldn’t tag along. I really liked those old ladies!)

3) I like how the story of Dale remains complicated, yet hopeful. It felt true and honest. I love Sunny’s attempt at connecting with him by giving him a pet rock to take care of.

4) The book has a lot of 1970s nostalgia. And I thought it was done well.

5) I like the introduction of the neighbour girl and her flags. And then how Sunny takes the flags as a challenge, especially when they aren’t as easy to manipulate as they seem.

WHAT’S NOT COOL

1) I still would like to see this as a full-scale novel. The graphic novel is fine, but there’s so much more to explore with these characters.

2) I felt the end might have been a tad rushed. When I got there, I felt like saying… “Wait… where’s the rest?” Then I realized that was it. It’s not a bad ending. Actually, it ties up nicely enough, but I still felt there was something lacking.

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 3 Stars (out of 5) – I thought this was a good follow-up book. Although, I think I like the first one better with the Grandpa. But I really did enjoy returning to Sunny’s world.

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Review: Papa Luther

imagesBook: Papa Luther: A Graphic Novel
Author: Daniel D. Maurer
Rating: 4 Stars

Basic plot: A graphic novel that interweaves Martin Luther’s famous life moments with the daily little, family moments of life with his children.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) This graphic novel takes history and makes it interesting.

2) I like the character arc of Luther’s children, Hans and Magda… the childish bickering that culminates in a more serious way near the end (which I won’t spoil!).

3) It seems that the author used some of Luther’s real quotes… all marked by a little cross. The historian in me thought that was a neat touch. (Yay! History! Quotes!)

4) The end made me cry. In a good way. (Even though, I kinda knew it was coming. Or at least guessed it was coming.)

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) A few of the “definitions” given of theological terms (eg: heresy) seem to be a weird modern definition and not something a 16th century guy like Luther would have said.

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – I thought this was a nice simplified treatment of the great historical events of the Protestant Reformation. And I thought the book remained true to history without being bogged down in all the theological nitty-gritty. Having the children be the centerpiece of the story was a good move for a graphic novel aimed at kids!

Note: This year marks the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation being celebrated this year on October 31st. This book offers a beautiful and condensed overview of these historical events.

Review: Sunny Side Up

sunnysideupBook: Sunny Side Up
Authors: Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Basic plot: During the summer of 1976, Sunny goes to stay with her grandfather who lives in  a Retirement Community in Florida. It’s hard to be a place where everybody’s old. But that isn’t the only hard thing for Sunny. It’s even harder to work through the reason she’s in Florida in the first place.

WHAT’S COOL

1. I liked the superhero thread that was woven throughout the story. (Although, I don’t know why Sunny doesn’t like Wonder Woman!!)

2. It took me a few times to figure out how the flashbacks were working, but once I did, I really liked how that worked. Little by little, we are let in on Sunny’s big secret.

3. I love the “Girls” who hang out with the grandfather. How they are so full of life and vigor. And good advice… like taking the uneaten roll for later. (This is something we totally would in my family!)

WHAT’S NOT COOL

1. While I thought the graphic novel worked well, I could really see this as a full-scale novel. Is there anything lost when it’s condensed into the graphic novel format? I did find a few things a tiny bit confusing. But maybe that’s because I don’t read a lot of graphic novels. I’m more of a words person.

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 3.5 Stars (out of 5) – I really liked the story. I would love to see words flesh the story out (i.e. turning the story into a full novel). But overall, I felt the story was touching. I felt for Sunny and her family.