The other day, a public librarian asked on social media for graphic novel recommendations for readers aged 6 to 12. I immediately recommended the Adventures in Cartooning series by James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, and Alexis Frederick-Frost.
The first book was Adventures in Cartooning: How to Turn Your Doodles into Comics, introducing us to The Knight, Edward the chubby horse, and the Magic Cartooning Elf. With humor and breathless storytelling, this story captures both attention and imagination. I cannot envision a reader who wouldn’t want to pull out a pencil and give cartooning a try.
Since then, there have been three more Adventures in Cartooning story/how-to books and four picture books featuring the beloved characters.
The book I’ve fallen in love with now is Adventures in Cartooning: Characters in Action, first published in 2013. An affordable paperback, this is a stealthy way to buy an activity book that also encourages storytelling, writing, spatial thinking, and math (yes, math, while figuring out how to lay out the story).
These books are clever because they tell a story while showing how to write a story. And the story is good, not didactic.
In this volume, many characters are introduced as a way of showing how you can make different characters out of a few shapes and how you describe a character with a minimum of words, clothing, facial expressions, and placement on the page. And they all move the story forward! With each page turn, something unpredictable happens — that’s great storytelling. I admire the authors’ skillfulness.
Reading these books as an adult cracks me up. The jokes are clever, but they’re layered — and they, too, move the story forward, so they also teach while tickling the reader’s funny bone.
Summer’s nearly here. Are you gearing up with things to do? Buy the series of Adventures in Cartooning books and pull them out of your boredom-reliever bag at opportune times. They’re a can’t miss for any kids who like to tell stories and draw.