Children’s Graphic Novel Reviews: Jop and Blip Wanna Know (#1) by Jim Benton & Bad Sister by Charise Mericle Harper and Rory Lucey

Hi folks and welcome back to new children’s reviews! Thanks to the lovely folks at Benton Arts, I will be talking about the first book in the brand spanking new Jop and Blip Wanna Know graphic novel series by Jim Benton called Can You Hear a Penguin Fart on Mars?: And Other Excellent Questions. Thanks to kind friends at Raincoast Books, I will also be talking about the graphic novel Bad Sister by Charise Mericle Harper and Rory Lucey. Happy reading to you all!

“Jop! I think something is wrong with my brain!” 
”Why’s that, Blip?” 
”I’ve been thinking up some really weird questions.” 
”Weird, huh? Like when you asked how far a porcupine can shoot its quills?”

For readers familiar with the zany, funny work of Jim Benton: get ready for something extra fun in a children’s non-fiction read! And for readers unfamiliar with the zany, funny work of Jim Benton: well, the same applies! Robot friends Jop and Blip have a pretty big undertaking ahead: little robot Blip has quite a lot questions rolling around in his head and is hoping to get Jop’s help in getting to the the bottom of three big questions. In this first series of entry of Jop and Blip Wanna Know: Can You Hear a Penguin Fart on Mars?: And Other Excellent Questions, our two protagonists will find out: the answer to the titular question of whether or not you can hear a penguin fart on mars; whether you can make a dragon sandwich (yes, that’s right, a dragon sandwich!); and lastly, why we need two ears. At just under one hundred pages, the volume is approachable and not intimidating for readers of various comfort levels, while the graphic novel layout is extremely welcoming for readers who enjoy exploring illustrated or unconventional non-fiction. Benton’s sideways humour, use of kooky asides and colourful illustrations- in tandem with scientific facts and scientific explanations- make for lighthearted and informative reading- a win all-around that confirms Jop and Blip’s belief that ”everything is worth knowing!”. Readers who appreciate their informational non-fiction with generous dose of zing and/or humour- along the the lines of the Disgusting Critters series, Science Comics series, Lesser Spotted Animals, or How to Promenade with a Python (And Not Get Eaten)- might especially delight in the learning and laughs to be had with Jop and Blip Wanna Know. I am already looking forward to read about what questions the two friends are going to tackle in the next book!

“Well, this is going to stop! Someone is going to get hurt.” 
”But he’s okay.”
 ”I’m getting tired of this! You should know better…/…I don’t know if it’s on purpose or by accident, but you’re going to hurt him!”

Written by prolific children’s author Charise Mericle Harper and illustrated by Rory Lucey, Bad Sister is a graphic novel memoir that follows the childhood of young Charise from the moment her parents bring home her new baby brother from the hospital. Based on the experiences and memories of Charise Mericle Harper (and her time growing up with her younger brother Daniel), Bad Sister is an intriguing, meaningful story. Charise is an imperfect kid and she is an imperfect big sister- just like siblings can be! She makes errors in judgement, she makes huge mistakes; she is often not very thoughtful and nor considerate about her little brother’s safety; she gets envious and jealous about how thoughtful her little brother can be; and sometimes, her actions lead to her and her little brother getting hurt. But Charise, as she grows up and out of her childhood years, has huge moments of learning, of trying harder to be patient and a good leader to Daniel, and of taking the time to consider what makes a ”bad sister”– and what she might be able to do differently. Charise’s narrative and voice draw readers in immediately, and the quick-pace of the graphic novel, along with Rory Lucey’s bright and clean, retro-feeling artwork make the story’s moments of busy kids’ activity and emotional peaks even more compelling. I do wish the graphic novel has spoken more to Charise’s discovery of having propagnosia (face blindness), as well as the siblings’ parents and their respective personalities- I thought these sections and components of the story were fascinating, but were not covered as deeply as I had hoped. In all, readers who have enjoyed Raina Telgemeier’s Sisters, Jennifer L. Holm’s Sunny series, or Terri Libenson’s Emmie & Friends series might especially enjoy reading Charise’s narrative and the vignette-like dives into the deep complexities of sibling and familial relationships and dynamics. On the receiving end of a starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal, Bad Sister will likely be a tremendously popular pick with eager graphic novel readers.

I received a copy of Jop and Blip Wanna Know #1 courtesy of Benton Arts; I received a copy of Bad Sister courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions and comments are my own. Titles have been published and are currently available.

Author: michelle@fabbookreviews

Reference & Children's Librarian. Reader. Reviewer.

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