Vera Vance: Comics Star (After-School Superstars #2)

by Claudia Mills (Author) Grace Zong (Illustrator)

Vera Vance: Comics Star (After-School Superstars #2)
Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

Third grader Vera Vance has signed up for the comics camp after-school program, but her mother would much rather she focus on academics, athletics, music. . . anything but comics!

Vera loves all things comic books, so she can't wait for the comics after-school class to start--even though her mother wonders whether it's educational enough. But Vera is determined to participate, and starts developing her own comic about Big Spoon and Little Spoon with the encouragement of her enthusiastic friend Nixie and instruction from teachers who are accomplished cartoonists themselves. As the weeks go by, the after-school teachers announce that for the final class, students will go on a field trip to a local comic-con--and they can even enter a page from their comics in a contest that will be judged there! Vera isn't surprised when her mother says she can't go. But maybe Big Spoon and Little Spoon can convince her mother to accept her passion.

Vera Vance: Comics Star follows Nixie Ness: Cooking Star in the After-School Superstars chapter book series. Perfect for fans of Judy Moody, Ivy and Bean, and Clementine, the series is illustrated in black and white and each book includes a bonus activity that corresponds to the book's plot. A Junior Library Guild Selection!

More books in the series - See All

School Library Journal

Gr 2-5—This beginning chapter book stars budding artist Vera as she navigates her elementary after-school program and a series of personal anxieties. Most paramount of her constant worries is Vera's relationship with her mother, who disapproves of the comic camp that Vera loves. Vera is new to her town and school but finds a fast friend in Nixie. Yet with this friendship comes another anxiety: Vera is scared to voice that she would like to work independently on her own comic rather than work as a team. She begins to funnel her energy and her own emotional narrative into creating a comic about a character named Little Spoon, based on herself. The character of Big Spoon resembles Vera's disapproving mother. Vera despairs of ever finding the courage to speak up for what she wants, but she finds her voice by speaking up for classmates who are being teased. Vera still struggles to find the words to tell her mother, who she disagrees with but loves deeply, that she wants to attend the local comic con with her fellow campers. She chooses to let her art speak for her instead and uses the story of Little Spoon and Big Spoon to reveal her inner fears and wants. VERDICT This is a welcome addition to the "After-School Superstars" series and a lesson in family love and self-expression.—Lauren Younger, University of Dallas Library

Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"Vera's shyness will be appreciated and understood by many readers. Her character stays real throughout, and the lovely wrap-up shows how every personality type and situation can find a way to use their strengths to reach their goals. . . . Readers who stick around to see Vera become her own hero are in for a satisfying read."—Kirkus Reviews

"This is a welcome addition to the 'After-School Superstars' series and a lesson in family love and self-expression." —School Library Journal

"Heartfelt moments between Vera and her single-parent mother mix with their struggles over the value of comics to create a realistic family dynamic, and honest moments among the third-grade campers keep the chapter book from becoming overly pat. Spot illustrations and an appended list of Vera's favorite comics and graphic novels add extra punch." —The Horn Book

"Readers will enjoy the discussions of comics, the moments of classroom drama, and the fine-tuned, sensitive depiction of Vera's relationship with her mother. It's no surprise that Vera's comic reflects her own situation, emotions, and hopes. The unexpected twist here comes when Little Spoon triumphs by creating a happy ending for Vera's story as well as her own. A rewarding addition to the After-School Superstars series, which opened with Nixie Ness, Cooking Star (2019)."—Booklist

"Students who love comics in any form can relate to the realistic and varied characters that depict typical students and personalities. The vocabulary is simple enough for early chapter readers and the interspersed pencil drawings add to the compelling storyline." —School Library Connection

"In her usual assured and friendly style, Mills respectfully tackles some common elementary-grade dilemmas; the confident, funny, and capable characterizations bring Vera's explorations to vivid life, as Vera worries, new friend Nixie sunnily beams, and Vera's mother keeps a tight rein on everything. Budding artists will appreciate the respect for and information about the comics process and relate to Vera's joy at immersing herself in her beloved pastime." The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Claudia Mills
Claudia Mills has written many children's books, including 7 x 9 = Trouble!, the Franklin School Friends series, and the Mason Dixon series, and Vera Vance: Comic Book Star. She recently received the Kerlan Award for her contribution to children's literature. Ms. Mills lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Grace Zong has illustrated many books for children, including Our Food: A Healthy Serving of Science and Poems by Grace Lin, Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas by Natasha Yim, Pippa and Percival, Pancake and Poppy: Four Peppy Puppies by Deborah Diesen, and Mrs. McBee Leaves Room 3 by Gretchen Brandenburg McLellan. She divides her time between South Korea and New York.

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
March 20, 2020
After-School Superstars

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