Graphic Novel Review – The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins

The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins
By Clint McElroy, Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy, and Carey Pietsch
Illustrated by Carey Pietsch
Published by :01 First Second
ISBN-13: 978-1-250-15370-8

Literary Merit: Good
Characterization: Great
Recommended: Yes, with some reservations noted below
Level: High School+

Based on the popular podcast of the same name, ‘The Adventure Zone’ promises high jinks, adventure, and laughter. For those not in the know, Adventure Zone is a podcast that began with three brothers and their father playing D&D together for the first time followed by the gang trying out different tabletop roleplaying games as the podcast matured. This graphic novel follows their D&D games and is told episodically with wonderful and hilarious asides from all the characters including Griffin, who isn’t actually a character in the story at all, but the dungeon master!

Haven’t listened to the podcast? Never fear, you don’t have to know anything about Adventure Zone to jump right into the graphic novel! The story is told with newcomers in mind so you won’t feel like you are missing any crucial details or have to worry about catching up with thousands of hours just to understand all the jokes within.

While I would highly recommend this for any graphic novel collection I must do so with a small, but important caveat. This graphic novel does contain mild violence and swearing. Swears, including the ‘f’ word, are used often enough that it might cause concern in certain teen collections. There are also sexual references in some places of the book, but nothing graphic or overblown. You know best if this content will fit your library.

All that said, I highly recommend picking up Adventure Zone even if you end up sticking it in the adult graphic novel collection. The podcast is incredibly popular and I am sure your customers will be ecstatic to find a copy of this series on the shelf! More volumes are planned, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled!

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Savvy by Ingrid Law, Book Discussion

Savvy

Hello readers,

Today I will be posting my thoughts and book discussion questions for Savvy by Ingrid Law. This is a book that my teens and I are reading for our book club, and I think it will help me organize my thoughts to give a short review here and the possible discussion questions I will ask the group to generate thoughtful discussion!

Savvy is a charming tale about Mibs, a newly minted 13 year old who gained a savvy. What is a savvy? It is a special kind of know-how, that varies from person to person in Mibs family. For example, her grandpa can manipulate the earth, her mother can do just about everything perfectly, and her brothers have control over electrical currents in the case of the older or water in case of the younger. A few days before her 13th birthday, which is the day you might receive a savvy, Mibs’ father, who is just a regular guy, gets into a terrible car accident. On the day of her birthday, Mibs believes her savvy might be the only thing that can help her dad, so she, her friends, and some of her siblings join her on a bus adventure toward their goal.

That is pretty much just the first few chapters, and the story evolves further as they realize the bus is going the wrong way. They meet various people, and go through some challenging events. This story is worth reading if you like the idea of mundane magic, or of magical realism. This book is written in a way that 5th graders through high school will enjoy the read. I would place the reading level squarely in the middle school range, despite the amount of older teens that read this title.

Savvy was suggested as a book club selection by my teens in the Teen Advisory Board.

Some suggested Book Discussion Questions:

  1. Were there any parts of this story you particularly enjoyed? Any parts of the story you didn’t care for?
  2. Mibs and her family seem to be bullied and made fun of. Why do you think that is?
  3. Why does Mibs’ family have to keep their savvies secret? How hard do you think it is for them to keep their secret?
  4. What did you think Mibs’ savvy was at first? Did you guess it correctly? Or did you get it mixed up like Mibs?
  5. How did Mibs figure out what her savvy was?
  6. Will Jr. and Bobbi ended up on the bus with the Beaumont kids. How does the relationship between them evolve?
  7. In the book, did you get the feeling the adults, Lester and Lill, on the bus had savvies of their own? What do you think those savvies might be?
  8. What do you think of the relationship between Will Jr. and Mibs?
  9. What, if any, do you think is the morale of this story? There might be more than one!
  10. Do you think you would like a savvy even if you had to keep it secret? What would your savvy be?