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Children's LiteratureGraphic novels are quickly taking their place in adult literature, and what becomes fashionable there soon finds its way into children's books. Children have always been attracted to comic books for their snappy action, minimum of words, and their ability to pull a reader along to the end. So, now we have graphic novels for kids. This one, originally from England, does a competent job of keeping most of the dialogue in the frames, and trying for some exciting action in chapters five and six, though it is a bit unbelievable. English bank robbers must be different from American ones if they carry loose money out of a bank in two cardboard boxes and are intimidated by a smallish dog. Still, their apprehension gives the hero, Mel, a chance to redeem himself after inept attempts at magic tricks and the ridicule of rather unpleasant friends. As a finale, Mel and his father (kidnapped bank manager and magician) triumph as a team with their successful sawing-in-half trick. Joker is one tale in the "Graphic Trax" series for confident primary-grade readers or less advanced middle ones (it would also be useful for English as a second language students). It is a better try at a graphic novel than some others in the series, being both easy to read and engaging enough to keep readers' attention to the finish. The glossary, discussion questions, and writing prompts are unnecessary and detract from the illusion of graphic novel excitement. 2006 (orig. 2000), Stone Arch, Ages 6 to 11.
—Barbara L. Talcroft