A Graphic Novel of Turbo Proportions

Turbo is a class hamster, much like the one in the Humphrey books. There are a couple of distinct differences, however, Humphrey is in a chapter book, whereas Turbo is in a GRAPHIC NOVEL. You can’t dispute the coolness of graphic novels. Also, Humphrey is a regular hamster, but Turbo is a SUPERHERO! In each installment, Turbo and his other class-pet friends, who are also secret superheroes, face danger and their evil arch nemesis, the unscrupulous rat, Whiskerface! In Super Turbo and the Fire-Breathing Dragon, Turbo and his cohorts discover a new classroom pet, vowing to rid the school of it. Afterall, it is dangerous to have a FIRE-BREATHING DRAGON in a classroom. Think of all the worksheets, art projects and, well, PAPER! When a fire does, indeed, start in the science lab, the superpets are even more resolved to remove the dragon from their school, even requesting help from Whiskerface. The question becomes : will Whiskerface truly help them or use this opportunity to take over the school?

Why I Like These Books:

These books are not jammed with bathroom humor, which wears thin after a while. There is actually a simple, clever story line that works well for 3rd and 4th grade readers, with enough illustrations and action to keep the story lively and patrons engaged.

The graphic novels are brief enough for reluctant readers to finish up and feel successful, about 115 pages.  These adventure tales with ample drawings may just get kiddos to want to start a collection!

Written by Lee Kirby

Copyright 2017, 2018 (latest in series)

Accelerated Reader Level: 3.9-4.5

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                                                            This cover represents a set of Turbo books:

Magic, Dragons and One Mean Witch!


Jax is a nine-year old boy living in Brooklyn with his mother. He is a compliant kid. But when his mother drops him off at Ma’s place for the day while she goes to court to deal with their possible eviction, he is in for an adventure that will require him to assert himself, take unprecedented risks and show cunning and bravery.  Ma, who is not a relative but did raise his mama, is about as friendly as an angry rattlesnake  Initially, Jax is afraid of Ma, which gives way to anger, then couriosity. She reluctantly allows him to stay for the day, but hisses orders at him, trys to keep him away from her things and berates him for his potential eviction.  A box sitting on a table is covered in postage from Madagascar and Jax observes it moving.  Ma guards it carefully, but Jax spies her transferring its contents to a small mints container. Eventually, through sleuthing and disobeying Ma, Jax finds that, shockingly, there are lizard-like creatures in the tin, three of them. Ma reacts strongly to his snooping and Jax decides to bail, running out of Ma’s apartment only to have her follow him.

Their discussion becomes a turning point in their relationship. Ma takes some responsibility for her gruffness and confesses that she is a witch. Jax insists that she be more respectful and gains some insight into her actions. From here, the fantasy element of the story takes off. Ma lets Jax know that she has been assigned transport of the lizards, which are really dragons, to their magical destination. Jax, who now knows that his mother was offered the chance to be Ma’s applrentice when she was young but chose not to enter the magical life, decides to embrace the adventure. With the help of magical characters and a couple of friends, Jax enters the magical world of witchcraft to discover if it’s his destiny to be part of the magical realm.

Jax’s relationship with Ma evolves from rocky to loving through their adventures: transporting to a magical world, losing Ma, losing one of the dragons, finding them both and, in the process, finding his passion.

This is a great book for new fantasy readers as they wade into the genre, and would be a fun  general fantasy story for third and fourth grade chapter book readers and reluctant readers in higher grades.

What I liked about this book:

Ma is the quintessential “hard on the outside, soft on the inside” character. It’s entertaining to witness the way in which Zetta Elliott artfully engineers Ma’s transformation through her relationship with Jax, a mere mortal and a young one, at that.

Variety makes this book spicy through these ingredients:  a variety of cultures, characters that span a wide range of ages and even one character that is invisible!

Written by Zetta Elliott

Copyright 2018

Accelerated Reader Level: No test yet written, Reading level approx. 5.0

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A Fantasy Book with Chocolate…Yum!

A dragon who turns into a girl and becomes an apprentice to a chocolatier? Well, if that’s not the makings of a delicious fantasy story, I don’t know what is! Aventurine is a young dragon with a restless spirit and an over-protective family. They keep her close and away from danger. Aventurine has other plans. She leaves her family to show them she can care for herself. Unfortunately, her first encounter with a human ends badly. She accepts a sip of enticing-smelling cocoa and POOF! She is transformed into a human girl. Aventurine makes her way to the village where she encounters a motley crew of characters, including an intensely disgruntled chocolatier, with whom Aventurine apprentices and finds a passion for chocolate. Not only is being human foreign to Aventurine, but dealing with them is as well! She learns imperative lessons along the way, evolving into a truly strong and independent person. The dragon attack on the village is so full of suspense and action that readers may feel compelled to duck and hide!

By Stephanie Burgis

Copyright 2018

Accelerated Reader Level 5.8

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