New hybrid books follow path of ‘Wimpy Kids’

  • By Karen MacPherson Scripps Howard News Service
  • Sunday, August 22, 2010 4:26pm
  • Life

Driven by the popularity of “The Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series, hybrid books are one of the hottest genres in children’s books today.

What exactly is a hybrid book? It’s a chapter book with a blend of text and illustrations. Unlike a traditional children’s novel, which may have a few black-and-white illustrations scattered through the pages, there generally is a roughly equal amount of text and illustrations in a hybrid book.

Here’s a look at some of these new hybrids:

Lincoln Peirce created the “Big Nate” comic strip in 1991, and today it can be read daily in more than 200 U.S. newspapers. “Big Nate: In a Class By Himself” (for ages 8 to 12, $12.99). Featuring characters from the comic strip, “Big Nate” details a day in the life of middle-schooler Nate Wright, an 11-year-old who believes that he is “destined for greatness.”

Peirce’s illustrations, done both in comic-strip panels and line drawings, add to the fun and show that he knows how middle-schoolers operate. Just take a look at his full-page illustration of Nate’s “notes” from a social-studies class — there’s not one fact on it, just a bunch of comics drawn by Nate as he tuned out the teacher.

Doreen “Dodo” Bussy and her family are moving to a new city. Moving is hard enough, but Doreen worries that the move is her fault because she got into such trouble in her last school.

In “Doodlebug” (for ages 8 to 12, $14.99), author/illustrator Karen Romano Young provides an engaging story about how Dodo reinvents herself as the Doodlebug in her new school, tracking her year in an illustration-filled notebook.

Girls will readily identify with Dodo’s angst as well as her efforts to figure out her world. Young’s drawings also are wonderfully funny and evocative, and sure to attract girls who are fans of Marissa Moss’ “Amelia” hybrid series.

Kids who like puns will love “School! Adventures at the Harvey N. Trouble Elementary School” (ages 7 to 10, $12.99). Author Kate McMullan, obviously a punster herself, tells a tale filled with people with names like Ms. Seeyalater, Mr. Ben Diggin and the hero, Ron Faster.

There’s not much of a story, but that doesn’t matter because the book is just so fun to read. It’s pure silliness, made even more comical with the wonderful line drawings by artist George Booth.

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