Dragonbreath by Ursula Vernon and Happy Birthday Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel



Summaries from Amazon: "It’s not easy for Danny Dragonbreath to be the sole mythical creature in a school for reptiles and amphibians—especially because he can’t breathe fire like other dragons (as the school bully loves to remind him). But having a unique family comes in handy sometimes, like when his sea-serpent cousin takes Danny and his best iguana friend on a mindboggling underwater tour, complete with vomiting sea cucumbers and giant squid. It sure beats reading the encyclopedia to research his ocean report . . .Using a hybrid of comic-book panels and text, Ursula Vernon introduces an irresistible set of characters with a penchant for getting themselves into sticky situations. It’s perfect for both the classroom and the Wimpy Kid set."

"It's Bad Kitty's birthday, and you're invited! Bad Kitty's second illustrated novel is packed with deadpan humor, rich tidbits of cat information -- and even some suspense! Who took Kitty's presents? Why are Kitty's friends so bizzare? Readers will laugh out loud at Kitty's feline mood swings, and they'll be touched by the heartwarming visit from a surprise guest."

I can just see my third graders: "And I learned something, too!"  Both of these hybrid novels include lots of facts about their subject matter (ocean life and cats, respectively).  They're also both pretty funny, even to this jaded curmudgeon.  

Bad Kitty's format of the offscreen narrator having a conversation with BK was perfect for those reaction shots that kids love, complete with tongue hanging out of mouth and sproing-ing tail.  The book also contains plenty of gross smelly humor. There is truly inspired, footnoted commentary from Chatty Kitty.  And, BK manages to get through his entire birthday without once being nice to anyone... well, maybe one cat.  Add some facts on top, and you have a perfect reluctant reader sandwich.  

Dragonbreath is heavier on the text, with perhaps 1/3 of the story told in graphics and the rest in prose.  I think this book would have been equally successful as an illustrated chapter book, but of course I love the graphic novel components.  I really like the character interplay between Wendell and Danny; Wendell has the best one-liners.  I will enjoy seeing this one fly off the shelves as well.

Both books are super follow-ups to Wimpy Kid.  Enjoy!

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