4 out of 5 Stars
Recently a friend was asking me for ideas for books for her daughter. Her daughter is in the same class as my son and she knows about my love of stories and reading and books and paper and….
I had given her several ideas based on things we have read including “A Wrinkle in Time“. I told her about the “Lumberjanes” written and animated by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis and Brooke Allen but I had never read it before. It had just been suggested to me by a graphic novelist I follow on Twitter and had been tweeting with. I decided I should probably check it out before I continue to suggest it, so when I found book 1, “Beware the Kitten Holy”, at Annie Bloom’s (my favorite local bookstore) yesterday it was a sign I needed to grab it. So I did.
First off, as you can see from the cover, the illustrations are bright and full of color. I love that different types of girls are represented in this collection of stories. None of the 5 girls have the same look which I find wonderful and refreshing. As a fellow redhead, the redhead here is adventurous and strong and not what you would consider a “typical redhead character” with a bad temper or mean streak and she isn’t the geeky sidekick. They all have strengths whether they notice them at first or whether they come as a surprise later.
The story starts out with the 5 girls (Jo, April, Mal, Molly, & Ripley) attending Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types, a summer camp for Lumberjane Scouts. They are a lot like our girl scouts and even have their own Field Manual and badges, but this camp turns out to be a little different than what we or the characters expect. Strange animals start appearing like yetis and water monsters. There are foxes with a third eye. After a mishap on a canoeing trip, the girls are heading back to camp and fall down a hole where they have to use their smarts and team work to find their way out. They never back down and always work together because of their mantra: “Friendship to the MAX!” The story and mystery gets bigger and more complex and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.
The girl power, friendship, outdoors, team work and overall spirit of the story really sucked me in and I wish I had had something like this when I was younger. It is adventure where the “Hardcore lady types” take care of themselves and each other. There is silliness and some butt-kicking when it was called for, but nothing to “graphic”. The girls aren’t sexy, scantily clad, covered in makeup and and running around in high-heeled boots. They are real girls with a super strong message of positivity which makes this perfect for kids to be reading. The girls frequently invoke the names of notable female pioneers with fun expressions like “Oh my Bessie Coleman“. It is listed as a book best for kids ages 10-13, but I think slightly younger will do fine with the content and older people will also enjoy this! (Parents check it out and make the choice if it is right for your kid though…this review is based on our family expectations).
This is a perfect graphic novel for girls, and I think even the boys are going to love this. My son just finished reading it and asked if we could get book 2 so he can see what happens. His favorite character is April, the redhead (we are gingers after all, and she is awesome) because she is strong and totally beat the huge statue at arm wrestling. He also likes the yeti, and wants to find out more about what is going on at the boys camp!
I really loved this story and I am looking forward to getting more of the books from the library. The paper back of “Beware The Kitten Holy” was $14.95 and at 127 pages reads super fast. The money can add up really quickly! If you have reluctant readers, this would be a great book to get them excited and to build some reading confidence as well. None of the words are overly difficult and it is broken up into chapters so kids can have a break easily (or just keep on reading).
This book was a Will Eisner Award winner for Best New Series and Best Publication for Teens in 2015.
Update: Coming soon, reviews on books 2-6!