One sign of an excellent author is when they can sprinkle in completely made up words that fit so perfectly with a story, that you find yourself looking them up to double check that they are in fact not real words. Author Steve Foxe uses language creatively and humorously to create a world of adventure. From an octopus alien using twists on common expressions, such as “on the other tentacle,” to being glombuxed, this book is sure to get a laugh out of kids.
Our main character, Mr. Kazarian, or Mr. K, turns out to be more than just a school librarian. He is, in fact, an alien working on learning as much as he can about human children. However, his research, and the entire galaxy are threatened when his evil cousin, Kronkold, invents a new device that can generate black holes.
At the same time, we have four students: Walden, TJ, Shea, and Dani, who need to complete a research assignment on a famous scientist. They team up with Mr. K to get all the research they need for their assignment, while helping to save the galaxy! We meet strange alien characters while the students are forced to get creative, even using a library card to help them escape. Oh, and they need to do all this before lunchtime.
Real scientific facts are peppered throughout the dialogue, complemented with lots of jokes and clever plays on words. Additionally, Foxe has created wonderfully diverse characters. One of the students, Walden, has a cochlear implant. This isn’t mentioned in the story, it’s just a natural part of him. I haven’t come across this in any other children’s comics, so this would be a great title to add to your collection if you’re looking for diverse characters.
The artwork in this book pops out of the panels. British artist Gary Boller keeps the backgrounds to a minimum, often with a simple solid color, or a single feature like a solid color bookcase, stairwell, or hallway. This allows the reader to focus on the excitement that’s unfolding and the details of the characters. Different font styles are used to emphasize action words, show conversational dialogue, and get the reader’s attention that scientific facts are being shared. A bright color palette and expressive faces makes for a fun visual experience that compliments the text well.
Overall, this is a great addition to any elementary or middle school library collection. Especially for kids who have a passion for learning. This book is filled with interesting facts about black holes, outer space, and Einstein. Foxe used several credible resources, such as NASA Kids, to research all the material that went into this book. He includes a couple of pages of facts about black holes, a glossary of terms, and a page of questions to help the reader think deeper about what they’ve just learned. This would make it an easy book to read for an after school or library comic book club as the author provides a lot of great conversation starters. Children will enjoy this fact filled science fiction story.
Mr. Kazarian Alien Librarian: The Black Hole Bandits
By Steve Foxe
Art by Gary Boller
Capstone Press, 2020
Publisher Age Rating: 8-10
Series ISBNS and Order
Title Details and Representation
NFNT Age Recommendation: Easy Readers (5-9), Middle Grade (7-11)
Character Traits: Hearing loss