Favorite Flukey Finds: Toons Edition

7 Jul

Welcome to the first installment of what will be a semi-regular feature on Z Before Y.  I call it…Fluke

A little background.  I tend to gravitate heavily towards middle-grade fiction when I choose books to read.  As a result, I find my chops in other formats aren’t as strong as I wish they could be.  About a year ago, I devised a system to force myself (in a completely agreeable way of course) to spend more time with non-fiction, early readers, picture books, and so forth.  The way it works is that I borrow a whole bunch of books at once following the pattern below:

  • One middle grade chapter book, choosing an author going by the alphabet (I am currently up to author’s last name starting with ‘P’)
  • One early chapter book
  • One graphic novel
  • Two Easy Readers (‘I Can Read’, ‘Ready to Read’, etc.)
  • One non-fiction title
  • Five picture books
  • One folktale or poetry book (I usually swap back and forth between these two)
  • One YA title, either fiction or non-fiction, which must be by an author I’ve never read before.

Here’s a photo of my latest haul.  I’ll spare you needless scrolling by listing all the titles, but if you’re curious, you can find them here.

Flukey Finds July 7 2013

My rules for selecting the books are simple, (1) only books currently on library shelves are permissible (no placing holds), and (2) the entire stash needs to be checked out at the same time.

Thankfully, my knowledge of neglected parts of the children’s collection has sharpened since I embraced my system of structured serendipity.  However, an unexpected and entirely pleasant outcome has been discovering titles I have fallen HARD for, titles I very likely would not have pulled off the shelves if I weren’t doing this.

Favorite Flukey Finds will highlight three (because I am too lazy to push the f-alliterating to four or five) of these charmers in specific topic areas.  The Fluke Factor rates my awareness of each title, on a scale of 1 to 5 flukes, before I read it.  The more cute, flatheaded fish, the more random the find. 

So here goes.  First up, toons and graphic novels!

Benjamin Bear

1.  Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking by Philippe Coudray (Easy Reader)

The folks at Toon have published a multitude of excellent comics-based readers for young children, but I am absolutely besotted by Benjamin Bear.  If you aren’t familiar with him, the Benjamin Bear books (there’s a sequel, too) are a collection of one-page comic strips where, for the most part, Benjamin Bear faces a problem and Benjamin Bear solves the problem.  But oh it is those solutions- all delivered with an impeccable, deadpan delivery- that bust me up.  I just love that bear’s brain!  His ideas are weird and unorthodox, and yet they also make perfect, logical sense. I am not going to summarize any of the strips here, but do treat yourself to a sampling in Google PreviewYou won’t regret it.

Five Tiny Flukes

Fluke Factor=5 Flukes (maximum flukage!).  The only reason I pulled it off the shelf was because I recognized from its spine that it was a Toon book.

Nathan Hale

2.  One Dead Spy: The Life, Times, and Famous Last Words of Nathan Hale, America’s Most Famous Spy by Nathan Hale (Non-Fiction)

Nathan Hale, 21st-century comics artist, has tapped Nathan Hale, incompetent Revolutionary War spy and intoner of stirring last words (“I regret that I have but one life to give to my country”) to be the protagonist of his Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales series, which portrays some of the strangest adventures in American History.  The historical episodes in One Dead Spy (and its follow-up, Big Bad Ironclad!) are fascinating, but it’s the series’ regular characters who have completely won me over.  Nathan Hale (18th century version) is condemned to hang.  Fortunately, he is a much better storyteller than spy.  There is also a haughty British guard who just wants to get Hale’s hanging underway, and (my favorite) a guileless and childlike Hangman who always wants one more story (and a sandwich would be most welcome, too).  The third volume of Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales is due on August 6, and I can hardly wait.  It’s topic?  The Donner Party!   In the meantime, I continue to whet my appetite with the Hazardous Tales blogEvery week, Nathan Hale (the comics artist…there were no blogs during the Revolutionary War, silly) gives us a comic based on history, and many of them feature that adorable little Hangman.

Three Tiny Flukes

Fluke Factor=3 Flukes.  I had noticed One Dead Spy mentioned in a couple of blogs and decided to give it a whirl when I noticed it on the shelf.

Frankie Pickle

3.  Frankie Pickle and the Pine Run 3000 by Eric Wight (Early Chapter Book)

Speaking entirely as a grown-up reader, finding early chapter books with engaging characters and distinctive writing can sometimes feel like searching for diamonds in the rough.  Ivy and Bean accomplishes it, as does Ann Cameron’s Julian, Huey, et. alFrankie Pickle also makes it to the list.  Frankie Pickle and the Pine Run 3000 was the first I read in the series and in it I found a winning spoof of the Boy Scouts’ Pinewood Derby (I have brothers, I’ve been to a few Pinewood Derbies.).  High-octane Speed Racerinspired comics make this an early chapter book/graphic novel hybrid that that is perfectly balanced and a hoot to read.  By the way, I occasionally like to doodle a pic of Frankie’s dog, Argyle.  I’ll have to take a shot at drawing Frankie next.  Here’s video where author Eric Wight shows us how.

Five Tiny Flukes

Fluke Factor=5 Flukes (more maximum flukage!).  Totally random selection.  I remember taking it because I wanted to choose something from the bottom shelf, and there it was with the rest of the ‘W’s.

Favorite Flukey Finds will be back.  How do you keep up with reading the variety of books in your collections?



One Response to “Favorite Flukey Finds: Toons Edition”


  1. Favorite Flukey Finds: Scary Books Edition | Z Before Y - October 28, 2013

    […] collection (and one token YA title).  The system (and its rules) are outlined here in Favorite Flukey Finds #1.  I have a new pile of books sitting on my freshly-swept apartment floor, photo below.  Click on […]

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