Deborah Marcero, the author of several thoughtful, intriguing picture books, including the most recent In a Jar, is turning to intermediate graphic novels. Her first series is every bit as sweet as her previous works.
Haylee and Comet: A Tale of Cosmic Friendship begins with a wish, a wish for a friend. When the two meet, a friendship is born and both enjoy all the sweetness of getting to know each other. Little dramas and differences are quickly resolved, including Comet’s confusion about earth things like ships that sail on the sea or worries about disappointing a friend when a surprise goes wrong. Each short chapter ends with a page of small panels that expand on the chapter and the book itself ends with a hint at further adventures and some facts about comets.
In their second collection of adventures, A Trip Around the Sun, stories hinted at in the first volume appear, including the metamorphosis of a caterpillar which leads to the theme of the book – growing up. Haylee and Comet have many discussions about what it means to grow up and how everyone, and everything, grows in a different way and at their own rate. There are more facts blended into this story, including short vignettes on life cycles and why moths are attracted to light.
Haylee is portrayed as a white girl with blue-gray hair, mimicking the predominately blue shades of the story. It’s brightened by Comet’s curve of yellow and soft pink, bulbous nose. Small twinkling stars scatter across the blue sky, and the washes of night-time colors and soft yellows of dandelions make a calm, peaceful reading experience. The second book adds more colors with washes of green, pinks, and swirls of purple and blue shades as Haylee and Comet’s adventures continue, including white kittens, green caterpillars (with pink noses just like Comets nose) and soft green wings for Comet.
These are at an intermediate level, more challenging than Elephant and Piggie or Frog and Toad, but comparable to Narwhal and Jelly or Stinky Cecil. There are some more challenging vocabulary words in the nonfiction portions, but they are sounded out by Comet or Haylee and an explanation given in the text. While librarians will not want to neglect the uber-popular titles for this age group like the Acorn line or the above-mentioned titles, if you are looking for more intermediate graphic novels for the beginning chapter crowd and have readers and families who will appreciate these gentle, heart-felt stories, they are sure to please. They will be especially useful in a school context with their mix of social-emotional learning and empathy, while never becoming too didactic, and blended science facts.
Haylee and Comet
By Deborah Marcero
Roaring Brook, 2021
Vol 1 ISBN: 9781250774392
Vol 2 ISBN: 9781250774408