Binky to the Rescue
Ashley Spires, Kids Can, $8.95 trade paper (64p) ISBN 978-1-55453-597-2
Who doesn't love a cat comic? Although Binky thinks he's a space cat (as seen in his previous book) and his home a space station, his actions are very recognizable as classic feline. He chases bugs, jumps on the furniture, and generally makes a mess of things. He doesn't talk, though; much of this comic is narrated through captions, which express his motivations and feelings. In this case, he's stunned when he accidentally falls out a window into "outer space" and tangles with a hive of bees. Unfortunately, Binky's stuffed mouse toy, Ted, also falls into the garden, and the second half of the book follows Binky's attempts to rescue his friend. Although Binky's drawn movements are catlike, his creativity matches that of an imaginative child, providing more points of identification and amusement. Spires's skilled cartooning makes this easy to read and follow, with clear actions supporting a silly, outrageous story. Ages 7–10. (Sept.)

Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye: And Then There Were Gnomes
Colleen AF Venable and Stephanie Yue, Lerner/Graphic Universe, $6.95 trade paper (48p) ISBN 978-0-7613-6225-8
Venable and Yue's clever series about a detective guinea pig continues into its second volume. Sasspants is a very intelligent guinea pig at the pet store who likes to spend her time in quiet, reading. Despite her wishes, she's often interrupted by Hamisher, a flighty and overly adoring hamster. Hamisher, impressed by the mystery solved by Sasspants in the first book, now seeks another mystery for the two to solve (with Hamisher as the sidekick, of course). A mystery soon becomes clear as pet mice are disappearing, and the pet store owner, along with some of the animals, is convinced there's a ghost on the prowl. Sasspants doesn't believe in ghosts, so she has to find a different explanation for the disappearances. Despite the frequent talk of ghosts, the story is never scary. Everything about it could be described as cute, from the art to the characters' personalities. Ages 7–11. (Nov.)

The Action Bible
Doug Mauss and Sergio Cariello, David C. Cook, $24.99 (750p) ISBN 978-0-7814-4499-6
Graphic adaptations of the Judeo-Christian bible are a hot trend, from R. Crumb to Rob Liefeld. This treatment proclaims "God is the original action hero" and presents more than 200 Bible tales in comics form. An "action-movie" treatment of the Old and New Testament should have real potential, but it's not realized here. There are a few stunning moments, but they're more weirdness than spectacle: Adam lamenting that--after eating the forbidden fruit--he's not wise, just naked; Cain reflecting that he hates sheep. For the most part, artist Cariello has taken a Classics Illustrated approach, with just the highlights recounted in episodic form. A lack of emotion in the art is a particular weakness given the drama inherent in the source material. But the most disappointing aspect of both the art and the story is their lack of epic scope. However, the book does give the faithful a graphic interpretation of more obscure Bible tales. Ages 8–up. (Sept.)

Nola's Worlds, #1: Changing Moon
Mathieu Mariolle, MiniKim, and Pop, Lerner/Graphic Universe, $9.95 trade paper (136p) ISBN 978-0-7613-6502-0
Nola York-Stein may have an unrealistic cartoony look and salmon pink hair, but adolescents will find plenty to relate to in this appealing new graphic novel series. Taking place in the formerly dull coastal town of Alta Donna, she finds a mystery to keep her busy. Nola introduces herself as someone habitually late for school and always struggling with one thing or another, although she's clearly smart and means well. She doesn't like school and has a stressful home life; with her parents divorced, she seldom sees her father, and her mother pays more attention to her job than to her daughter. But when the school librarian is attacked, Nola decides to play detective. The librarian gives a few cryptic clues, and though those around him are quick to say it's no big deal, Nola believes otherwise. While there's a mystery afoot, the biggest pull for the book is the relatable main character and her situations. An offbeat humor to Nola's difficulties gives a light feel to the whole story. Previously published in France, two subsequent volumes are also available. Ages 11–15. (Nov.)

The Odyssey
Gareth Hinds, Candlewick, $24.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-7636-4266-2
One of the oldest and most often retold literary classics is faithfully recreated in watercolors and pastels. Hinds, who has previously adapted Beowulf and several Shakespeare plays in comics format, uses different translations as a basis for his adaptation, trimming the text but keeping all the events of Odysseus' journey home from the Trojan War. The adaptation is most impressive in its ability to convey the despair, anguish, and joy of the characters in a sudden, striking way that text alone can't, pulling these familiar figures out from a thousands–year-old story and presenting the reader with human faces. Hinds's watercolor landscapes of the Greek coast, islands, and mountains are another strong point. But seeing the characters as they exchange archaic dialogue emphasizes its stilted and unnatural quality. And in some sections, particularly in early exposition, the text is so plentiful it crowds out the art. Still, Hinds has created a work that both honors the epic's long tradition and helps readers see these characters in a new light. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)