Megan is not like her other sisters. They are loud and love sport, whereas Megan is quieter and loves to draw. It’s not that she doesn’t love them, or her mum and dad, it’s just that the broom cupboard offers a quieter place to get away and draw her fantastical creatures. So does her friend Li’s place. Ever since Li moved in across the road two years ago, the girls have been inseparable. Li is an only child with a single mum, and things are a lot calmer at their house. Plus, Li is a creative too. She loves to write, especially about aliens, and brings Megan’s creatures to life by giving them their own names and backstories. Then one Friday, everything changes. A blue glow takes over the town and everyone in it, except for Megan, Li and Megan’s dog Callie. People stop and quietly stare in a zombie like state. And when Megan tries to draw, it seems the pencil takes on a life of its own and she can’t control her hand. The same happens when Li writes her stories. On their way to get help, Callie leads them to the Talora Caves where they see an eerie blue glow emanating from the cavern. It tries to capture their minds and pull them in. The girls will have to use all their courage and awaken their fantasy beasts to defeat the creature that is The Glow.
This is a fast-paced, supernatural tale of adventure, friendship and heroism, set against a background of creativity and fantasy. Two ordinary girls are caught in an extraordinary situation and must use all of their creative skills to save their town. The story is extremely well written with short chapters, engaging language and plenty of mystery and excitement to keep the reader wanting more. The illustrations, especially those of the creatures, are very intricate with a hint of danger and menace, and will have huge appeal to those who loved the Deltora Quest series and the dragons, orcs, and other beasts from Middle Earth, Harry Potter and Hayao Miyazaki. As a lover of fantasy, I couldn’t put this one down and highly recommend it for upper primary and middle grade readers.
Supporting teaching themes could include mythical creatures, dragons, fantasy, friendship, apocalypses, monsters, dogs, bravery, creativity, illustrating, writing.
Find out more about Sofie Laguna
Find out more about Marc McBride
Published by Allen & Unwin
Released March 2023
Highly recommended for ages 9 +
This fourth installment in the Cat Kid Comic Club series from Dav Pilkey is another triumph, not only because of its trademark graphic format, but for the inspiration within for young writers and illustrators. Join Li'l Petey, Molly, Flippy and the baby frogs, as they share their successes and failures in story creation with the world. They also provide an insight into the process of writing, with each chapter using either a slightly different graphic format and/or a different writing technique. In Wendy and Raine’s chapter about their dad’s life story, they use a traditional comic format in the illustrations, but have incorporated A LOT of exaggeration in the actual story. Gilbert and Curly learn about copyright and parody in their creation of Frogzilla. Summer and Starla use photography and the art of Haiku for their story.
There are chapters highlighting storyboarding, recycling toys to create completely different characters, using real life sequential images instead of illustrations, 3-D modelling, being an agent, getting published, and all the while learning to be respectful, resilient, creative and collaborative. My favourite chapter is Billie and Corky’s story Run Little Baby, Run!!! because it incorporates mondegreens – the misinterpretation or mishearing of phrases to create totally new meanings – and an order of two large French fries and a supa-sized shake becomes two large French flies and a supa-sized snake with hilarious consequences.
The thing I love about the Cat Kid stories is that readers won’t even know they are absorbing and learning all of these creative insights because of the very clever and thoughtful way Dav Pilkey writes and presents the books. Bright, colourful, humorous illustrations with large, colourful fonts, and funny, engaging stories that are quick and easy to read, are what capture the children’s imaginations. And the graphic novel format has been such a drawcard for reluctant readers. Many children who found chapter books a struggle are now avid readers, thanks to authors and illustrators like Dav Pilkey who make reading accessible, appealing and most of all - fun!
Watch the trailer for Melvin and Naomi's comic creation Chubbs McSpiderbutt: Easy Spider below
Supporting teaching themes include family, persistence, resilience, collaboration, respect, copyright, graphic novels, photography, recycling, storyboarding, story writing and publishing.
Find out more about the Cat Kid Comic Club series.
Find out more about Dav Pilkey.
Published by Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic
Release date November 29th, 2022.
ISBN: 9781338846621 (HB)
Highly recommended for ages 7 - 10.