The Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels #6: Kristy’s Big Day – Gale Galligan

Text – Ann M. Martin

Colour – Braden Lamb

This is my first Gale Galligan BSC graphic novel adaptation. I’ve already read three of Raina Telgemeier’s adaptations so it was almost impossible not to compare the two. I love Raina’s style and had wanted her to continue adapting the entire series.

I like Gale’s style as well so it was more a matter of me getting used to seeing the babysitters looking different. Gale dyes a section of Claudia’s hair, just like Raina did. However, Gale has also given Stacey a haircut, which didn’t sit with me as a BSC purist that well, even though it looks cute.

While the plot remains the same, I noticed many more minor differences between the book and this graphic novel than I have with Raina’s adaptations. I’m not mentioning all of the differences here as there are too many, but here are some of them.

Book: Watson’s mansion has three floors and an attic.
Graphic novel: The illustration of Watson’s mansion shows two floors and an attic.

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Book: Mallory isn’t a member of the BSC yet.
Graphic novel: Mallory is mentioned as the sixth member of the BSC.

Book: Watson’s parents being religious is not mentioned.
Graphic novel: Kristy’s mother talks about Watson’s parents being religious as one of the reasons why she and Watson need to get married before the Thomas’ move to the Brewer mansion.

Book: Kristy mentions having two windows in her childhood bedroom.
Graphic novel: I can only see one window in Kristy’s childhood bedroom in the illustrations.

Kristy arrives late to a BSC meeting and asks if there are any calls.
Book: Sam’s prank call was, ‘Hello, this is Marmee March. I need a sitter for Amy tonight, someone who has experience with little women.’
Graphic novel: Sam asks for a sitter with ‘experience with lots of smelly farts.’
The book version was better.

Book: Claudia searches for junk food under her bed.
Graphic novel: Claudia finds some junk food on a shelf in her closet.

Book: Claudia says Trevor is probably dating his poetry by now.
Graphic novel: Claudia says Trevor is probably dating his guitar by now.

Book: Sam and Kristy have their talk about David Michael’s Citizenship Award on the back porch.
Graphic novel: Sam and Kristy have their talk about David Michael’s Citizenship Award in the kitchen.

Book: Mallory isn’t a member of the BSC yet so she’s not babysitting with them.
Graphic novel: Mallory gets put in Kristy’s babysitting group.

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Book: Nannie’s Pink Clinker has a pink plastic flower attached to the antenna and a stuffed koala hanging from the rearview mirror.
Graphic novel: The pink plastic flower and the antenna are missing and stuffed koala is now some fuzzy dice. There’s a heart on the bonnet that I liked. The Pink Clinker looks closer to red than pink to me.

Book: When they’re cleaning the house, Charlie has the floor cleaner, Sam has the vacuum cleaner, Kristy has paper towels and Windex, and David Michael has rags and furniture polish.
Graphic novel: When they’re cleaning the house, Charlie is vacuuming, Sam is cleaning the windows, Kristy is tidying, and David Michael is dusting.

Book: Stacey calls Mary Anne from the movies using a pay phone.
Graphic novel: Stacey calls Mary Anne from the movies using her own phone.

Book: David Michael gets his hair cut by Mr Pratt.
Graphic novel: David Michael gets his hair cut by Mr Gates, the one who’s previously made him look like an owl.

Book: In the practice wedding performed by the kids, ‘holy matrimony’ becomes ‘holy moly’.
Graphic novel: In the practice wedding performed by the kids, ‘holy matrimony’ becomes ‘holy guacamole’.

Book: When Karen explains why having white flowers at the wedding are a disaster, it’s because white magic will mix with Morbidda Destiny’s black magic.
Graphic novel: When Karen explains why having white flowers at the wedding are a disaster, it’s because evil witches use white flowers in their magic and Morbidda Destiny will be able to sense them from next door.

Book: Kristy’s rehearsal dinner dress is white with woven silver designs.
Graphic novel: Kristy’s rehearsal dinner dress is green and blue.

Book: Kristy’s bridesmaid shoes are yellow.
Graphic novel: Kristy’s bridesmaid shoes are white.

Also, the clothes the kids wear in their practice wedding are different and the kids are positioned differently in the photo that’s taken of them on the couch. Karen freaks out at the wedding a little later than she did in the book and it’s Karen who accepts Mrs Porter’s present, not Watson. I can’t imagine Karen touching anything Morbidda Destiny has touched for fear of her magic.

I liked Claudia’s drawing lesson, where she explains how to draw simple roses, although I haven’t attempted them myself because I’m extremely artistically challenged. My stick men don’t even consistently look like stick men.

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My favourite illustration shows some of the wedding scenes.

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Kristy’s mum is getting married, and Kristy is going to be a bridesmaid! The only problem? Fourteen kids are coming to town for the wedding. Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne, Stacey, Dawn and Mallory think they can handle it, but that’s before they spend a week changing diapers, stopping arguments, solving mix-ups, and planning activities. It’s the biggest job the BSC has ever had, but they’ll work together to make sure Kristy’s big day is a success!

The Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels #3: Mary Anne Saves the Day – Raina Telgemeier

Text – Ann M. Martin

This is the first of Raina’s BSC graphic novel adaptations that I’ve seen in their full technicolor glory. I’m so in love with it, not that I didn’t enjoy the black and white illustrations in the versions I read of the first two graphic novels in the series.

Raina has once again captured the original story so well. Her illustrations are always amazing, with giggle-worthy exaggerated expressions.

I have so many favourites in this graphic novel, but check out Kristy’s face when she realises she’s broken one of her own BSC rules! Priceless!

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The differences in the story, which were all only minor, that stood out to me as I was reading were:

Book: Mary Anne’s mother’s name is not mentioned.
Graphic novel: Mary Anne’s mother’s name is Alma. I don’t remember ever knowing this before.

Book: Mary Anne wishes Humpty Dumpty and two Alice in Wonderland pictures weren’t on her bedroom wall.
Graphic novel: Mary Anne wishes Humpty Dumpty and Mother Goose pictures weren’t on her bedroom wall.

Book: When Mary Anne looks around the cafeteria the day after the BSC’s fight, the fourth chair at her usual table has been removed.
Graphic novel: When Mary Anne looks around the cafeteria the day after the BSC’s fight, the fourth chair at her usual table has Kristy’s backpack and hoodie on it.

Book: Dawn temporarily has the family’s VCR in her room. Her mother taped The Parent Trap.
Graphic novel: Dawn temporarily has the family’s DVD player in her room. Her mother bought The Parent Trap.

Book: Mary Anne babysits for Jenny Prezzioso both times.
Graphic novel: Stacey babysits for Jenny Prezzioso the first time.

Book: Mary Anne gives her note to Mimi to pass along to Claudia later in the story.
Graphic novel: Mary Anne gives Claudia her note at the end of the first BSC meeting after the fight.

Book: We attend the first Prezzioso job with Mary Anne but we don’t read about it in the BSC notebook.
Graphic novel: Stacey writes up the first Prezzioso job in the BSC notebook. We also attend the job with her.

Book: Claudia blasts music on her tape deck when it’s Mary Anne’s turn to answer the BSC calls.
Graphic novel: Claudia blasts music on her CD player when it’s Mary Anne’s turn to answer the BSC calls.

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Book: When Mary Anne and Kristy babysit together, the eight Pike kids put on two plays.
Graphic novel: When Mary Anne and Kristy babysit together, Mary Anne only reads to the younger Pike kids upstairs before bedtime. There are no plays.

Book: The second time the BSC babysit for Jenny, she’s wearing a pale blue dress with a white collar and cuffs, and white tights, shoes and hair ribbon.
Graphic novel: The second time the BSC babysit for Jenny, she’s wearing a white dress, a short sleeve black cardigan, white socks, black and white shoes and a red hair ribbon.

Book: Mary Anne has Blueberries For Sal, The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin and Caps For Sale in her Kid-Kit.
Graphic novel: Mary Anne has Princess Gwynn and Hats for Bats in her Kid-Kit.

Book: Mr Prezzioso gives Mary Anne and Dawn $10 each after they take care of Jenny when she’s sick.
Graphic novel: Mr Prezzioso gives Mary Anne and Dawn $50 each after they take care of Jenny when she’s sick.

Book: Mary Anne doesn’t visit her mother’s grave.
Graphic novel: Mary Anne visits her mother’s grave after her fight with Dawn. I thought this was a really good addition, especially given how lonely and upset Mary Anne is at this point in the story.

Book: At Jamie (Hi-hi!) Newton’s birthday party, Kristy is the one that suggests the kids sit around the couch and gloats when Mrs Newton agrees with her.
Graphic novel: At Jamie (Hi-hi!) Newton’s birthday party, we don’t see which babysitter suggests the kids sit around the couch but Claudia is the one who gloats, so I guess it was her.

Book: At the end, Dawn says, “To me!” I prefer this version; it made me smile when I read it.
Graphic novel: At the end, Dawn says, “To us!!

Random thoughts:

Mary Anne’s room is just as pink as I imagined it would be. Humpty Dumpty is even on the wall.

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Mary Anne’s dad is kinda cute, in a dad way, of course. When I’ve I imagined him previously, he’s been exclusively dour until the very end of the story and sort of bland looking.

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Mimi looks more adorable that I’d even hoped. I love Mimi! I know she’s not a BSC member but I’d love to read her memoirs.

Also, Claudia’s response to the “my Mary Anne” incident is brilliant!

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I love that we get to see Mary Anne give her father the scarf she’s been working on with Mimi’s help for a couple of books. That was my favourite illustration.

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About the cover: Love it! Love the colours. Love the expressions. My only nitpicks are that Mary Anne’s skirt is clearly above her knees and I’m certain that her dad, Richie, would never have allowed Mary Anne to leave the house looking like that. Why, that would almost be as scandalous as giving her permission to wear pants to school! Also, is it just me or at a quick glance, does it look as though Claudia doesn’t have pupils, giving her a bit of a zombie vibe?

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

When The Baby-sitters Club gets into a huge fight, Mary Anne is left to her own devices. She has to eat by herself in the school cafeteria, figure out how to make new friends and deal with her overprotective father. But the worst happens when she finds herself in a babysitting emergency and can’t turn to her friends for help. Will Mary Anne solve her problems and save The Baby-sitters Club from falling apart?

The Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels #2: The Truth About Stacey – Raina Telgemeier

Text – Ann M. Martin

Raina did such a fantastic job translating the third BSC book into a graphic novel. But was there ever any doubt? I’d be on board if she made the entire series into graphic novels.

Given that I’ve read both the book and graphic novel today and because the graphic novel remains so true to the source material, there’s not a lot I can say that I didn’t already say in my review of the book.

Instead I’ll mention some of the changes I noticed between the two. I loved that all of the changes were minor, so the story you’ve known for over three decades is the story you’ll find here.

Book: Everyone goes home to get their own box before returning to Claudia’s house to decorate the Kid-Kits.
Graphic Novel: Claudia gets empty boxes for everyone from her basement.

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Book: Kristy is usually sprawled out on Claudia’s floor during meetings. This changes for the emergency meeting, when she’s all official with her clipboard, visor and pencil over her ear.
Graphic Novel: Kristy begins the story sitting in a chair during BSC meetings. She does hang out on Claudia’s bed later in the story.

Book: Stacey gets her money out before deciding not to buy anything at the candy store.
Graphic Novel: Stacey doesn’t get her money out at all. She simply thinks about it and tells Charlotte she shouldn’t have any sweets.

Book: The babysitters put on a record for Jamie’s Big Brother Party.
Graphic Novel: The babysitters put on a CD for Jamie’s Big Brother Party.

The Baby-sitters Agency set up a recruitment table inside the school. The babysitters head to the school bathroom to strategise.
Book: The babysitters talk in the bathroom, then decide to hold a meeting at Kristy’s house after school.
Graphic Novel: The entire conversation takes place in the school bathroom.

Book: Stacey and Dr Johansenn have their talk about the new doctor Stacey’s parents want to take her to in the den.
Graphic Novel: Stacey and Dr Johansenn have their talk about the new doctor Stacey’s parents want to take her to in the kitchen.

Book: Pete asks Stacey to the Snowflake Dance when they’re in the cafeteria.
Graphic Novel: Pete asks Stacey to the Snowflake Dance when they’re in the hallway in front of the lockers..

Book: Mary Anne answers the phone call from Mr Kelly and then hands the phone to Kristy once she finds out why he’s calling.
Graphic Novel: Kristy answers the call.

Book: Stacey babysits for Jamie (Hi-hi!) Newton and he tells her about his other babysitters.
Graphic Novel: Mary Anne babysits for Jamie (Hi-hi!) Newton and he tells her about his other babysitters.

Book: Stacey talks to Dr Johansenn a second time in the Johansenn’s home.
Graphic Novel: Stacey talks to Dr Johansenn a second time while Dr Johansenn is driving her home.

Book: The babysitters discuss their concerns about Jamie with their parents before talking to Mrs Newton.
Graphic Novel: The babysitters wait out in the snow until Cathy has left and then go talk to Mrs Newton.

The babysitters quiz members of The Baby-sitters Agency about the kids they babysit.
Book: They ask what Charlotte’s favourite TV show is.
Graphic Novel: They ask what Charlotte’s favourite game is.

Book: When Stacey and her parents arrive at Laine’s family’s apartment, Laine is in her bedroom.
Graphic Novel: When Stacey and her parents arrive at Laine’s family’s apartment, Laine is in the same room as her parents.

Book: The popcorn and diet soda Stacey buys at the movies costs $1.75.
Graphic Novel: The popcorn and diet soda Stacey buys at the movies costs $9.25.

Book: Makeovers Inc. sounds as though it’s going to be a moneymaker.
Graphic Novel: Makeovers Inc. sounds as though it’s going to be a flop.

The illustrations are the usual Raina awesomeness, with characters whose expressions tell the story just as well as the words. One of my favourite scenes was when Kristy calls The Baby-sitters Agency to find out how they operate and says she has a date with Winston Churchill.

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I really enjoyed the flashback scenes in the graphic novel that give you an idea of what Stacey’s life in New York was like. The text that’s added to those panels felt like it belonged in the story. I loved Stacey and Laine’s ideas for the apartment they planned to get together when they were in the fifth grade.

I read the black and white version of this graphic novel. Sorry about the dodgy photos I took of it. To give you an idea of what the colour version looks like, here are the first three pages:

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Poor Stacey. She just moved to a new town, is still coming to terms with her diabetes, and is facing baby-sitting problems left and right. Fortunately, Stacey has three new friends – Kristy, Claudia, and Mary Anne. Together they’re the BSC, and they will deal with whatever’s thrown their way … even if it’s a rival baby-sitting club!

The Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels #1: Kristy’s Great Idea – Raina Telgemeier

Text – Ann M. Martin

I stand by everything I said in my review of Ann M. Martin’s Kristy’s Great Idea so, rather than rehash that, I’m going to mention some of the differences I noticed between the book and graphic novel instead.

In the book Kristy wears a dress on the original front cover and it’s mentioned she wears a blouse and skirt to school. That’s not Kristy at all. In the graphic novel Kristy consistently wears what we come to know as her uniform. Much better.

In the book Kristy has a purse. Again, this is definitely not something I would ever picture her with. In the graphic novel her purse has transformed into a backpack. Definitely more Kristy-like.

While I absolutely love that Claudia has a section of her hair dyed in the graphic novel, I don’t think her parents would have allowed her to get away with that. She has to hide her earrings, junk food and Nancy Drew novels from them so hair dye would have to be forbidden as well, right?

The BSC logo that Claudia draws in the graphic novel is different than the one we all grew up with. Similar but different.

The amount the girls have earned by the time of the sleepover and how much they each need to contribute to buy pizza has increased. These aren’t 1986 prices anymore.

Class at Stoneybrook Middle School appears to finish at 3pm now, not 2:42pm like in the book. That makes much more sense.

The sheep barrettes in Claudia’s hair in the book are now a rainbow on her shirt. I’m good with either. It’s Claudia, after all. She can get away with whatever fashion choices she makes.

In my version of the first book, Kristy’s mother’s name is Edie and in the graphic novel it’s Elizabeth. Although I haven’t checked later books to confirm this, Elizabeth sounds right to me.

This isn’t a change, but I was really happy to discover that the landline in Claudia’s bedroom hasn’t succumbed to technology. The BSC meetings would look a lot different if everyone was sitting around with a mobile phone.

I’d forgotten I’d already read this graphic novel so I can’t tell you what I thought last time I read it but this time I was really impressed. The story and important details remain true to the original.

I read the black and white version of the graphic novel. I would be interested to check out the colour version at some point. For comparison, here are the black and white and colour versions of the first page.

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As usual, Raina’s artwork is brilliant and the personalities of each character shine through. I’m really glad I read this straight after finishing the book so, where possible, I think I’ll keep doing this.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

In this new graphic novel edition of the very first Baby-Sitters Club book, Raina Telgemeier captures all the drama of the original in warm, spunky illustrations. Witness Kristy’s eureka moment, when she gets the idea for a “baby-sitters club” and enlists her best friends, shy Mary Anne and artistic Claudia, in an exciting new venture. But the baby-sitting business isn’t the only thing absorbing their attention: Kristy is having a hard time accepting her stepdad-to-be, and the newest member of the gang, Stacey, seems to be hiding a secret.

The Witches: The Graphic Novel – Pénélope Bagieu

Roald Dahl was my favourite author when I was a kid. I’ve read four of his books so many times over the years I’ve lost count: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The BFG and The Witches. I could also pretty much ruin each of the movies (the originals, if they‘ve been remade) for you by telling you every line before they happen.

I loved searching for witches when I was a kid. Sure, I knew that this story was fiction but it was fun to play ‘what if’ and check to see if women walking past me were wearing gloves or scratching their head, or if their teeth had a slight bluish tinge.

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Although I was really interested in reading this graphic novel adaptation, I was nervous about it too. I’m a bit of a purist where childhood favourites are concerned; while I’m mostly okay with minor changes, I don’t want you to mess with my cherished childhood memories.

I’m happy to report that the story I know and love remains intact here. Sure, there are some changes but none that make me want to point at a specific page number in the original book and demand that it be changed back because it ruined the story.

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I’m sure I’ve missed some because it’s been a few years since I last read The Witches but the changes I noticed straight away were:

  • The story takes place in England, not Norway
  • Grandmamma and her grandson aren’t white (loving this!)
  • Bruno Jenkins is a girl, whose name I still don’t know. Her surname is Jenkins and she has much better lines than Bruno did
  • The Grand High Witch now says “remove” rather than “rrree-moof” and “wigs” instead of “vigs”
  • Formula 86 is hidden in a different location in the Grand High Witch’s room
  • There’s gambling at the hotel (whose name has changed) and mention of yoga and organic food
  • Grandmamma’s conversation with the Jenkins’ has a different outcome and happens at a different time in the story
  • Grandmamma ends up going into the kitchen to find her grandson rather than him meeting her back in the dining room
  • The Jenkins family now stays in touch with Grandmamma and her grandson.

There were only a couple of things from the novel that I missed in the graphic novel. While the story of the girl in the painting is explained well in the graphic novel, the other early witch stories are only mentioned briefly. Also missing was Grandmamma telling her grandson how many beats per minute a mouse’s heart beats (500!). Neither impacts the story at all. They were simply a couple of my favourite bits as a kid.

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As a decades long Roald Dahl fan, I wholeheartedly approve of this adaptation. Besides the story remaining true to form, I also loved the illustrations. The Grand High Witch looked different unmasked than she does in my memory of the book and original movie but she was fantastic nonetheless.

I definitely need more Roald Dahl graphic novel adaptations.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Witches are real, and they are very, very dangerous. They wear ordinary clothes and have ordinary jobs, living in ordinary towns all across the world – and there’s nothing they despise more than children. When an eight-year-old boy and his grandmother come face-to-face with the Grand High Witch herself, they may be the only ones who can stop the witches’ latest plot to stamp out every last child in the country!

This full-colour graphic novel edition of Roald Dahl’s The Witches, adapted and illustrated by Eisner Award winner Pénélope Bagieu, is the first-ever Dahl story to appear in this format. Graphic novel readers and Roald Dahl fans alike will relish this dynamic new take on a uniquely funny tale. 

Secrets of Camp Whatever Volume 1 – Chris Grine

Spoilers Ahead! (marked in purple)

This is such a fun read!

Willow’s family have just moved to Nowhere and while her parents are getting the ghosts out the cellar (maybe literally), she’s been sent to Camp … Whatever for a week. Willow isn’t thrilled about the move or camp, but at least she’ll be getting a week’s respite from Gryphin, her younger brother.

There’s more to Camp … Whatever than meets the eye, and it’s not just because of the thick fog that covers the island. There are the mysteries of the missing candy and missing children to solve, the cook is suspected of being a vampire and there are weird gnomes everywhere. The Camp Director has plenty of his own stories to tell

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and the island even has its very own spooky legend.

“When the blood of my blood is spilled from a star, and the shadows of elves return from afar, I will once again walk this plane bringing death in tow.”

Willow and her new friends, Violet, Emma and Molly, won’t have much times for arts and crafts at this camp. They’ve got too many secrets to uncover.

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Eleven year old Willow is adventurous and smart, and she’s never short of ideas or plans, even if they defy the rules. She’s someone you’d have a lot of fun being friends with, if you didn’t mind getting into some trouble along the way. Willow has hearing aids and her ability to sign becomes an important part of the story.

I loved the illustrations and had no trouble following the story or getting to know the characters. The only thing that’s niggling at me is why, given the circumstances, Toast couldn’t have told Elric the names of the other gnomes and saved him nearly thirty years of trying to guess them.

The target audience mentioned on the Simon & Schuster website is 9 to 12 years but this adult loved it and is hooked! I can’t wait for the next volume!

While I definitely want to explore more of Camp … Whatever (I have to see some fog leeches!), I’m just as keen to find out what secrets are hiding in the town of Nowhere and I need to find out if there really are ghosts in the cellar of Willow’s new home.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Oni Press for the opportunity to read this graphic novel.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Eleven year-old Willow doesn’t want to go to her dad’s weird old summer camp any more than she wants her family to move to the weird old town where that camp is located. But her family – and fate itself – seem to have plans of their own. Soon Willow finds herself neck-deep in a confounding mystery involving stolen snacks, suspected vampires, and missing campers, all shrouded in the sinister fog that hides a generation of secrets at Camp … Whatever it’s called.

The Phantom of the Opera: The Graphic Novel – Varga Tomi

Everything that is underground belongs to him!

Apologies in advance for making this review more about my first and favourite musical than the graphic novel I just read. It’s just brought back so many wonderful memories!

I first saw The Phantom of the Opera in 1992. My school’s music classes were going on an interstate excursion to see the musical and a few of us who weren’t studying music as an elective managed to find a way to tag along. I finally understood why my Nan loved musicals so much.

I was already quite familiar with the Angel of Music because when I stayed with my grandparents my Nan and I would listen to it on repeat (on cassette) while we played cards late at night. My Pop would be trying to sleep in the next room but every time a new song began Nan and I would get up and dance around the room. Poor Pop … Saint that he was, he never once complained. You would have loved my grandparents!

As an adult I got to see Phantom again, this time with my mother in 2008. Mum fell in love with it as well and although Nan had died a couple of years beforehand we’re pretty sure she was there too. We had seats directly in front of the orchestra so it was an even bigger buzz when the chandelier flew over our heads!

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Although I haven’t read the book (yet!) the graphic novel included many of my favourite scenes from the musical. The Phantom’s face was more skeletal than I had been expecting but it worked. I wasn’t so sure about his red eyes. I expect the detail of some of the darker scenes will be more vivid in print.

Some of the fonts, particularly those used in the letters, were quite difficult to read in the ARC. Hopefully the higher resolution of the published version will render these more legible.

Thank you so much to NetGalley, A Wave Blue World and Diamond Book Distributors for the opportunity to read this graphic novel.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

The Phantom of the Opera, the iconic gothic romance, is retold with all the spectacle its legend demands in this devoted graphic novel adaptation that marries stunning artwork with Gaston Leroux’s haunting prose.

Everyone has heard the whispered tales of the phantom who lives beneath the opera house, the mysterious trickster behind all the little mishaps and lost things. But no one has ever seen the monster … until now. When the promise of blossoming love lures him out from his intricately constructed hideaways in the labyrinthine building’s walls and cellars, a hideously disfigured artist trains the lovely Christine to be the opera’s next star for a steep price. Does she choose her newfound success or her beloved Count Raoul? This doomed love triangle threatens to combust when a tragic death, a series of betrayals, and increasingly dangerous accidents cast the players of The Palais Garnier into a heart-wrenching horror story that will echo through the ages. 

Phoebe and Her Unicorn #12: Virtual Unicorn Experience – Dana Simpson

It’s no secret how much I love this series. There are unicorns, magic and nerds. What’s not to love?! Although it’s technically a series for kids, this adult finds it delightful. The friendship between this unicorn and her nerd is really sweet, full of mutual admiration, laughter and a healthy dose of sarcasm.

In this collection we learn that Marigold floats when she’s complimented. As she fishes for compliments a lot I would have thought we’d already know about the floating but this is new information for both Phoebe and me.

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Phoebe learns the Unicorn Investigative Agency has her under surveillance. The solution? A sparkle transfusion! Of course, this doesn’t exactly go to plan.

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Phoebe finds out what life without a phone is like. Marigold attends an audition and it’s Phoebe’s job to distract her until she finds out the result. Phoebe enjoys one of life’s pleasures – falling asleep to the sound of rain.

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We learn that Marigold has a magical pocket dimension, which could be the answer to all of your storage needs. Phoebe performs in a talent show and Marigold has jury duty. We discover that Marigold went through a goth phase.

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My favourite chuckle was when Marigold showed us how good she looks in pink.

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I enjoyed seeing a couple of different sides to Dakota. I was disappointed by the comics that included Max though. His character has so much potential but he wasn’t given a lot to do in this collection.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for the opportunity to read this graphic novel.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Marigold Heavenly Nostrils is one magical unicorn – and she knows it! But sometimes it’s harder for humans like Phoebe to understand that they can be magical, too. In the latest Phoebe and Her Unicorn adventure, the pair visits the science museum, tests out an extra-special virtual unicorn reality, and performs in the school talent show. With the help of her best friend and an emergency sparkle transfusion, Phoebe learns about confidence, empathy, and resilience – and even how to live without her cellphone. It’s all part of the very real excitement of Virtual Unicorn Experience.

Happily Ever After & Everything In Between – Debbie Tung

After watching my life play out in the pages of Debbie Tung’s Quiet Girl in a Noisy World and Book Love, I was eagerly anticipating seeing what other thing that makes me me she was going to explore. This third graphic novel is where our lives diverge, which turned this read from ‘how is she getting into my head?’ to ‘aww, Debbie and Jason are such a cute couple’.

Whether you’re deciding what to cook for dinner

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or ensuring the essentials find their way into the household budget,

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it’s important that your partner understands your love language.

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While there are some sweet, kinda mushy moments,

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single, introverted bookworms will also find plenty of relatable moments in this collection.

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While I couldn’t guess what Debbie would tackle next after finishing her second graphic novel, the reveal at the end of this one seems to me to be a pretty big clue about what to expect from the next one.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for the opportunity to read this graphic novel.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

From the bestselling author of Quiet Girl in a Noisy World and Book Love comes a funny and adorable collection of comics about married life. From choosing a movie and sharing (or not sharing) dessert to snoring (naturally) and knowing when someone needs a cup of tea and a cozy blanket, Happily Ever After is the perfect gift for anyone in a relationship.

The comics in Happily Ever After & Everything In Between may be inspired by Debbie Tung’s marriage to her extrovert husband, but any couple can relate to increasingly relaxed anniversaries, slowly seeing more of each other’s weird sides, or the punishment for taking care of your sick loved one (catching whatever they had). Happily Ever After humorously captures what everyday love looks like – both the sweet moments and the mundane – making it a fitting gift for weddings, anniversaries, and Valentine’s Day.

I Left the House Today! – Cassandra Calin

I probably should be embarrassed by how relatable I found a lot of these comics. Sure, there were also a fair few that I personally didn’t relate to, but overall I haven’t felt so seen since Debbie Tung’s Quiet Girl in a Noisy World and Book Love. You know the kind of seen I’m talking about: the kind where you’re not entirely sure that the artist hasn’t been covertly following you and drawing your life for all the world to see.

Taking on a range of everyday occurrences, including the quest for perfect adequate makeup,

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having your expectations and reality diverge just a teensy bit

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and the equally horrific experiences of losing sight of the spider someone else was going to take care of for you

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and someone calling your home phone.

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A lot of comics had me nodding in agreement and others had me chuckling. There were a couple that went over my head but not enough to dampen my enjoyment. I just wish there were at least another 50 pages because it felt like I’d only just begun when I reached the final page.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for the opportunity to read this graphic novel.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Hilarious and relatable comics about one young woman’s life, relationships, and day-to-day humorous musings on why it’s good to leave the house sometimes – and when it’s better to stay home.

Cassandra Calin’s ability to document the hilarity of relatable everyday events in a series of webcomics has generated a huge following on social media. This beautifully illustrated compendium of first-person comics about the trials of the single life, school, stress, junk food, shaving and maintaining a healthy self-image. Cassandra Calin’s comics frequently highlight the humorous gap between expectations and reality, especially when it comes to appearance and how much she can accomplish in one day.