Publisher: Stone Arch Books
Acquired: Received review copies from Capstone Publishers.
Reason for Reading: I am a huge fan of Stone Arch books which publishes "worry-free" content, easy reader graphic novels and chapter books with graded reading levels. My reading challenged son has used their books to improve his reading skills and has enjoyed almost all the books, even when I don't.
End Zone Thunder (Sports Illustrated Kids Graphic Novels) by Scott Ciencin, illustrated by Gerardo Sandoval. Aug. 1, 2010, 56 pgs. - The book has been professionally drawn and styled and it shows. Done in a style typical of comics and superhero cartoons with angular faces and jawlines and manga-type hairstyles. This is definitely a high-low reader, with a reading level of 1.7 and interest level up to 14 yo. The two receivers on the team are competitive with each other to such a degree that the other players are beginning to find it detrimental to the team, even though both are the best players on the team. When the captain of the team moves away suddenly they both vie for the position of the new captain and the coach puts them both through an intense regime to see who really wants it most. But what exactly is the coach looking for? My only problem with this book is my own personal fault in that I don't understand a thing about football! And this book talks football. But that aside, the teens are presented very well, speaking and acting just like real-life teens (keeping in mind that Stone Arch only prints family friendly material). I recommend this book and having read Avalanche Freestyle previously I find the whole series is worthy of recommendation. 4/5
Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (Arabian Nights Tales) Matthew K. Manning. Illustrated by Ricardo Osnaya. Aug. 1, 2010, 63 pgs. -A retelling of the famous Arabian Nights tale in which the phrase "open sesame" originates. A detailed retelling that manages to keep all the gruesome violent bits of the original tale while keeping the story family friendly. Recommended for ages 10-14 by the publisher I tend to agree as the violent bits while not actually shown are alluded to through words and images, leaving the goriness to the imagination. There is one scene with a pool of blood. Written at a 3.0 Reading Level, this will be great for readers of that grade and will make a fantastic hi-low reader. I appreciate a retelling that can stay with the original tale and think Manning & Osnava have done a wonderful job in doing so without showing the gory bits. My only dissatisfaction with this one is that I'm not entirely pleased with the illustrations. While done in the typical comic-book/cartoon style I found the faces and facial expressions awkward and stiff. Otherwise, I'd love to read the other three books in this series. 4/5