Tag Archives: friendship

It’s a secret!

In The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook by Eleanor Davis, an unlikely group of kids form an alliance based on their passion for science and inventing.  I was lost in the graphic novel’s intricate illustration that reminded me of a Where’s Waldo or I Spy book.  The reader was not on a hunt, searching for a to do list of artifacts, but instead buried in pictures that tell their own story.

Julian Calendar, the main character, is a gifted boy who just moved to a new school.  He does not want to be known as the stereotypical nerd, so he hides his sponge-like brain from his classmates at his new school.  From a teaching standpoint there are a plethora of opportunities for teaching about identity and bullying.  Unfortunately for Julian, his giftedness does not go unnoticed.  Two unlikely nerdy classmates send Julian an encrypted code and it isn’t long before he is solving a “polyalphabetic cipher.”  Julian meets Ben, “a dumb jock,” and Greta, “a dangerous maniac.”  The three of them form a team with codenames, passwords, logos, and decoder rings!  Look out! THE SECRET SCIENCE ALLIANCE is formed!  They hold their meetings in a doghouse with an elevator that drops below ground to a hidden basement.  The illustrations cleverly show cutaway pictures with map keys and legends.

My favorite illustration from the book:

(click to enlarge)

Julian, Ben, and Greta are smart kids.  Together they face an evil character and solve the crime with no violence!  This is a rarity today and provides a great book recommendation for middle grade students.  Sidekicks has a wait list in my classroom library.  I am glad to have a graphic novel to suggest as an alternative!

Reviews from the experts:

★“This heaping helping of fun recalls the gee-whiz wonderment of Johnny Quest cartoons and, hopefully, paves the way for a whole new generation of bright, can-do kids in smart, edifying adventures.” –Booklist, starred review

★“Davis’s first (of many, one hopes) graphic adventure of the SSA pumps new life into the kids’-secret-society formula. With its bounty of factlets slipped in for learning on the sly, it’s a sure kid and teacher pleaser—a perfect package for tweens.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

★“Everything about this very original story works. The ebullient characters are well-defined and well-designed; dramatic tension rises and falls at just the right pace; dialogue is snappy, funny and real; and the art is stunning.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review

About the Author:

Eleanor Davis also wrote Stinky, her first children’s book, which she received a Theodore Seuss Geisel Honor award.  The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook is her first full-length graphic novel.

I encourage readers to check-out The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook

by Eleanor Davis from their school or local library.

Support your neighborhood and independent bookseller whenever possible.

read you must

One of my summer goals is to read more books that appeal to boy readers.  In my quest to accomplish this, I read The Strange Case of Origami Yoda and Darth Paper Strikes Back by Tom Angleberger.  I read both of these books along with a boy I am tutoring that is entering fifth grade in the fall.  We both agreed these books are entertaining and humorous stories that could really happen!  The characters learn a lot about themselves, friendship, and accepting differences.

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda is a novel, written in a semi-journal format, about a unique boy who makes an origami Yoda finger puppet.  Tommy narrates the opening and closing of the book.  He also gives a running commentary, at the end of each chapter, along with Harvey, an Origami Yoda naysayer.  Each chapter of the book is written from the perspective of a different character.  All of the characters attend the same middle school and deal with typical middle school problems.  Some characters find Origami Yoda to be Jedi-wise, while other characters find him to be completely annoying.  The best part about Origami Yoda, in my opinion, is he is a finger puppet being controlled by Dwight, an outcast amongst his peers.  Would you listen to Origami Yoda’s advice?  Do you think Origami Yoda is real or a finger puppet?

The sequel to The Strange Case of Origami Yoda is Darth Paper Strikes Back.  This book follows the story of Origami Yoda, Dwight, Tommy and Harvey along with other students at McQuarrie Middle School.  In a similar twist to the darkness of Darth Vader, Darth Paper becomes a rival to Dwight and his Origami Yoda.  Harvey’s Darth Paper is a bully.  He says mean things and helps in getting Dwight and Origami Yoda in a great deal of trouble.  Will the students at McQuarrie be able to help save Dwight and Origami Yoda?  Who’s side would you be on: Dwight and Origami Yoda OR Harvey and Darth Paper?  I guess you will have to read to find out…

If you are curious about origami, making an Origami Yoda or Darth Paper is a great place to start!  Tom Angleberger narrates an excellent video on just how to make your own Origami Yoda

and Darth Paper.

Coming soon, book #3!  August 7, 2012 The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee

Do you have a favorite author or book you like to recommend to boy readers?  Please share!  I am always looking to add to my “someday” book list!

For more details, visit Tom Angleberger’s website.  I am looking forward to reading more of his books!

I encourage reader’s to check-out Tom Angleberger books from their school or local library.

Support your neighborhood and independent bookseller whenever possible.