Mr. Corbett Is in Orbit!

HarperAlley. (My Weird School Graphic Novel: Bk. 1). Jan. 2021. 96p. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780062947628; pap. $8.99. ISBN 9780062947611.
Gr 2-4–Gutman’s “My Weird School” series transitions into graphic novel format. A.J., Andrea, and their classmates at Ella Mentry School seem to take everything in stride, always ready with a joke or sarcastic observation. A teacher in a superhero outfit or another speaking in secret code is simply par for the course. When a lesson on climate change includes a surprise visit to NASA, everyone’s excited, and the students launch themselves into space on a shuttle in no time. Characters consistently face readers, inviting them to absorb the many puns, self-aware punch lines, and obliteration of the fourth wall. Chapters are named after their placement in sequence (“The Beginning,” “After the Beginning”), and a survey asks how readers are enjoying the book. Adding to the inviting atmosphere is the simple layout with generous wide panels and full-page cartoons. This is a silly, no-stakes adventure that will increase reader familiarity with changing voices and perspectives, and let kids feel like active participants. A.J. is brown-skinned, Andrea is white, and both students and teachers are a diverse group. Back matter includes a list of websites with more information about climate change, as well as a note encouraging children to convince their parents to support politicians endorsed by the Sierra Club and Greenpeace.
VERDICT From the opening warning about scenes of “graphic violins,” it’s clear that weirdness extends to all parts of this out-of-this-world field trip.

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