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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Tag Archives | Graphic Novels

Capers and Cons

When you (or your stu­dents) want a book that keeps you turn­ing the pages for your week­night and week­end read­ing, here are some sug­ges­tions for books with that nim­ble pac­ing and what-are-they-up-to plots. Many of them are just right for mid­dle grade or avid younger-than-that read­ers, with a cou­ple of teen titles added. (And, of course, all are suit­able for read­ing by adults.)

Adam Canfield of the Slash  

Adam Can­field of the Slash
writ­ten by Michael Winer­ip
Can­dlewick Press, 2005

This book is by turns fun­ny and seri­ous, but Adam Can­field is always inter­est­ed in dis­cov­er­ing the truth. Writ­ten by a New York Times colum­nist (on edu­ca­tion) who won a Pulitzer Prize, Winer­ip knows what his read­ers will find inter­est­ing. Adam reluc­tant­ly accepts the posi­tion of co-edi­tor of their school paper. He’s skep­ti­cal when a third-grad­er uncov­ers a pos­si­ble scan­dal. Adam and his co-edi­tor, Jen­nifer, take the sto­ry to the prin­ci­pal, who for­bids them to inves­ti­gate. Adam and Jen­nifer can’t help them­selves and they’re soon uncov­er­ing secrets.  Even though school papers are most­ly dig­i­tal now, this book will moti­vate read­ers to be truth seek­ers.

Con Academy  

Con Acad­e­my
writ­ten by Joe Schreiber
HMH Books for Young Read­ers, 2015

For teen read­ers: Senior Michael Shea has conned his way into one of the country’s élite prep schools. He’s an old hand at cons, but he’s unpre­pared to meet Andrea, his com­pe­ti­tion. When the two of them set up a com­pe­ti­tion to con the school’s Big Man on Cam­pus out of $50,000, the stakes are high. One twist after anoth­er, a full crew of grifters brought in to effect the con … this book reads cin­e­mat­i­cal­ly and moves along quick­ly.

Eddie Red Undercover: Doom at Grant's Tomb  

Eddie Red Under­cov­er: Doom at Grant’s Tomb
writ­ten by Mar­cia Wells, illus­trat­ed by Mar­cos Calo
HMH Books for Young Read­ers, 2016

Hav­ing just fin­ished the third book in the series, I’m a fan of the youngest inves­ti­ga­tor work­ing for the NYPD. There’s a back sto­ry for that, of course, but Eddie has an eidet­ic mem­o­ry and a quick­sil­ver mind … he’s good at solv­ing crimes. The police are always reluc­tant to involve Eddie because he’s only 12 years old, but the kid’s good at what he does. In this install­ment, it appears that Eddie is being tar­get­ed for seri­ous con­se­quences by inter­na­tion­al art thieves whom he’s foiled before. The thieves are steal­ing valu­able items from well-known land­marks. Can Eddie psych them out before they catch up with him?

 

Framed!

 

Framed!
writ­ten by James Pon­ti
Aladdin, 2016

Jess Aarons has been prac­tic­ing all sum­mer so he can be the fastest run­ner in the fifth grade. And he almost is, until the new girl in school, Leslie Burke, out­paces him. The two become fast friends and spend most days in the woods behind Leslie’s house, where they invent an enchant­ed land called Ter­abithia. One morn­ing, Leslie goes to Ter­abithia with­out Jess and a tragedy occurs. It will take the love of his fam­i­ly and the strength that Leslie has giv­en him for Jess to be able to deal with his grief.

Illyrian Adventure  

Illyr­i­an Adven­tures
writ­ten by Lloyd Alexan­der
Dut­ton Books, 1987

This is the first of six books about 16-year-old Ves­per Hol­ly who, in 1872, in the com­pa­ny of her guardian, Bin­nie, trav­els to Illyr­ia on the Adri­at­ic Sea to prove one of her late father’s the­o­ries. She’s a girl with mod­ern sen­si­bil­i­ties set against Binnie’s con­ser­v­a­tive con­cerns. Ves­per gets caught up in fast-paced intrigue with a rebel­lion against the king, all the while man­ag­ing to search for the leg­endary trea­sure. With Mr. Alexander’s char­ac­ter­is­tic humor, and a touch of romance, this series is fun to read and def­i­nite­ly qual­i­fies as a turn-the-page adven­ture.

Jack London and the Klondike Gold Rush  

Jack Lon­don and the Klondike Gold Rush
writ­ten by Peter Lourie, illus­trat­ed by Wen­dell Minor
Hen­ry Holt, 2017

Teens will enjoy this one. When Jack Lon­don turns 21, the Gold Rush of 1897 com­pels trea­sure seek­ers from around the world to trek through life-threat­en­ing con­di­tions to get to the gold fields in the Yukon Ter­ri­to­ry of Cana­da. Jack is swept up in the excite­ment, assem­bling a team of adven­tur­ers and sup­plies to with­stand the cru­el jour­ney. That some­one this young could com­mand respect and cama­raderie speaks loud­ly about his char­ac­ter. This true sto­ry serves as an excel­lent com­pan­ion books for Call of the Wild and White Fang, Jack London’s Klondike sto­ries. A real page-turn­er.

Magic Misfits  

Mag­ic Mis­fits
writ­ten by Neill Patrick Har­ris, illus by Lis­sy Mar­lin
Lit­tle, Brown Books, 2017

This thor­ough­ly enjoy­able book fol­lows Carter when he runs away from his crooked, thiev­ing uncle to the New Eng­land town of Min­er­al Wells, a sur­pris­ing­ly wel­com­ing place. Con­vinced that mag­ic isn’t real, and yet a tal­ent­ed street magi­cian, Carter is soon befriend­ed by a group of Mag­ic Mis­fits who set out to expose a cir­cus that’s a front for a well-orches­trat­ed, and dan­ger­ous, team of grifters. Adven­tur­ous, fun­ny, heart­warm­ing, this will cap­ture read­ers’ imag­i­na­tions. 

Mighty Jack  

Mighty Jack
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Ben Hatke
First Sec­ond, 2016

Mighty Jack and the Gob­lin King
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Ben Hatke
First Sec­ond, 2017

In the first book, Jack’s sis­ter Mad­dy per­suades him to trade their Mom’s car for a box of mys­te­ri­ous seeds … and the adven­ture begins. These are not, of course, ordi­nary seeds. They grow strange, oth­er­world­ly crea­tures and the kids, includ­ing next-door-neigh­bor Lil­ly, are chal­lenged to deal with crea­tures run amok.

In the sec­ond book, an ogre snatch­es Mad­dy into anoth­er world with Jack and Lil­ly deter­mined to res­cue her. Along the way, we meet gob­lins (good) and ogres (bad) and Lil­ly ful­fills a prophe­cy. It’s all very excit­ing and well-told with vibrant, engross­ing illus­tra­tions.

Parker Inheritance  

Park­er Inher­i­tance
writ­ten by Var­i­an John­son
Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholas­tic, 2018

In mod­ern-day Lam­bert, Can­dice dis­cov­ers a mys­tery in her grandmother’s let­ters. In the 1950s, her grand­moth­er left Lam­bert in shame, but it’s soon appar­ent to Can­dice and her friend Bran­don that racism was behind those events … and they reflect that things haven’t changed that much. Read­ing this book will bring your cre­ative prob­lem-solv­ing skills into play. There’s intrigue, humor, and a lot to think about in this sto­ry. 

Player King  

Play­er King
writ­ten by Avi
Atheneum, 2017

In 1846, young Lam­bert Sim­nel slaves away in a Lon­don tav­ern, com­plete­ly unaware of the pol­i­tics of the land.  When he’s pur­chased in the mid­dle of the night by a fri­ar, he’s astound­ed when the man reveals, “You, Lam­bert, are actu­al­ly Prince Edward, the true King of Eng­land!” King Hen­ry VII has just claimed the throne of Eng­land, but only after Prince Edward, who has a truer claim, dis­ap­pears. Could Lam­bert be the real prince? How could he not remem­ber this? Based on a blip in his­to­ry, this is a fas­ci­nat­ing look at a con­fi­dence job planned by politi­cians whose lives are at stake.

Riddle in Ruby  

Rid­dle in Ruby
writ­ten by Kent Davis
Green­wil­low Books, 2015

In an alter­nate his­to­ry colo­nial Philadel­phia, Ruby Teach is train­ing to be a thief and a guardian of secrets. It isn’t until she meets young Lord Athen that she begins to under­stand that her entire life has been kept secret from the pow­ers that be. In this world, those pow­ers use alche­my to fuel the Indus­tri­al Rev­o­lu­tion. It’s a fast-paced, fun­ny, and com­pelling book, the first of a tril­o­gy, with The Changer’s Key and The Great Unrav­el pro­vid­ing the rest of the sto­ry.

Supernatural Sleuthing Service  

Super­nor­mal Sleuthing Ser­vice
writ­ten by Gwen­da Bond and Christo­pher Rowe,
illus­trat­ed by Glenn Thomas
Green­wil­low Books, 2017

Stephen and his dad are mov­ing cross-coun­try so Dad can be the new exec­u­tive chef at the New Har­mo­nia, a New York City hotel for super­nor­mals (read: mon­sters!) It isn’t long before Stephen dis­cov­ers he’s part super­nor­mal him­self! When Stephen is framed for steal­ing a valu­able heir­loom, he teams up with two new friends to prove his inno­cence. It’s a spooky sto­ry, filled with humor and hijinks, and there’s a sec­ond book, The Sphinx’s Secret. You know the right read­er for these books!

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Graphic Storytelling

 

Fish GirlA good graph­ic nov­el should pose a mys­tery.

As it opens (last pos­si­ble minute), the read­er often has no clue what’s going on.

It’s often an unknown world, even if it looks like our world.

This isn’t that dif­fer­ent than the open­ing of a con­ven­tion­al print book but, for some rea­son, peo­ple often react to graph­ic nov­els by telling me, “I can’t read them! I nev­er know what’s going on.”

What is there about adding con­tin­u­al visu­als that caus­es some oth­er­wise avid read­ers to throw a graph­ic nov­el aside with such dis­fa­vor?

This ques­tion is an intrigu­ing one for me. In our Chap­ter & Verse Book Club, we read at least one graph­ic nov­el each year, usu­al­ly with an under­cur­rent of grum­bling. I know which of our mem­bers won’t like the book, which of them won’t open the book, and which of them will do their best to like the book. Some will even love the book.

Why such a wide range of respons­es based on the visu­al aspect of the book? And the dia­logue nature of the sto­ry?

I recent­ly fin­ished David Wies­ner and Don­na Jo Napoli’s Fish Girl. The open­ing is bewil­der­ing. What is going on? I find this sat­is­fy­ing.

When I fin­ished, I turned imme­di­ate­ly to re-read it, to fig­ure out where I first fig­ured it out. What were the clues? Were they visu­al or ver­bal or a com­bi­na­tion of both? I’m not going to tell you, of course. That’s your read­ing jour­ney. But I was par­tic­u­lar­ly fond of the way in which Fish Girl (dare I say it?) unwinds.

As a long time fan­ta­sy read­er, I’m famil­iar with sto­ries in this seg­ment of the genre. (I’m try­ing not to reveal too much so I’m pur­pose­ful­ly not nam­ing that seg­ment.) 

About the  book, David Wies­ner writes, “I tried sev­er­al times to devel­op a pic­ture book around these com­po­nents (draw­ings of char­ac­ters, scenes, and set­tings to go with an image of a house filled with water where fish are swim­ming) but the house full of fish turned out to be a com­plex image, sug­gest­ing sto­ries too long and involved for the pic­ture book for­mat. The log­i­cal next step was to see it as a graph­ic nov­el.”

Many of the peo­ple who don’t care for graph­ic nov­els love pic­ture books. Per­haps under­stand­ing graph­ic nov­els as a pic­ture book for telling longer, more com­plex sto­ries will help them appre­ci­ate this form more?

In Fish Girl, the water­col­or-paint­ed frames are clear and visu­al­ly beau­ti­ful. The char­ac­ters are well-delin­eat­ed. The dia­logue is involv­ing. The mys­ter­ies lead the way. Why does this girl, who lives with fish and an octo­pus inside of a house filled with water, named Ocean Won­ders, seem to be a pris­on­er? Why can’t she leave? Why does Nep­tune set so many rules? Are sto­ries the true rea­son that Fish Girl stays in her prison?

Wiesner’s paint­ings pro­vide focus in an involv­ing way through­out the book. The ocean is brood­ing, beau­ti­ful, and beck­on­ing. Fish Girl is lone­ly, a lone­li­ness every read­er will rec­og­nize. The expres­sions of lone­li­ness, bewil­der­ment, friend­ship, and long­ing are beguil­ing. When I con­sid­er how long it would take me to draw and paint just one of these frames and then look at how many frames are employed to tell this sto­ry, I could well imag­ine that David Wies­ner has been work­ing on this book for five years. I won­der what the truth of that is? 

It’s a book that many read­ers, young and old, will enjoy. I believe it would be a good read-aloud if all lis­ten­ers can see the book and help turn the pages. Fish Girl is high­ly rec­om­mend­ed. And I will keep look­ing for graph­ic nov­els that will con­vert even their most reluc­tant read­ers!

Fish Girl
David Wies­ner and Don­na Jo Napoli
Clar­i­on Books, March 7, 2017
(I read an Advanced Reader’s Copy.)
ISBN 978−0−544−81512−4 $25 hard­cov­er
ISBN 978−0−547−48393−1 $18 paper­back

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Middle Kingdom: Denver, Colorado

The books that most delight mid­dle school and junior high read­ers often strad­dle a “Mid­dle King­dom” rang­ing from upper mid­dle grade to YA. Each month, Bookol­o­gy colum­nist Lisa Bullard will vis­it the Mid­dle King­dom by view­ing it through the eyes of a teacher or librar­i­an. Bookol­o­gy is delight­ed to cel­e­brate the work of these edu­ca­tors who have built vital book encamp­ments in the tran­si­tion­al ter­ri­to­ry of ear­ly ado­les­cence.

This month we’re vis­it­ing Den­ver Acad­e­my in Den­ver, Col­orado, where Lisa talks with librar­i­an Jolene Gutiér­rez.

Lisa: What are three to five things our blog read­ers should know about your com­mu­ni­ty, school, or library/media cen­ter?

Jolene GutierrezJolene: I’m the librar­i­an at Den­ver Acad­e­my, a school for diverse learn­ers from ele­men­tary through high school.

  • Our school is locat­ed on 22 acres and we use the cam­pus as a learn­ing tool, from study­ing wildlife in our small pond to work­ing out math prob­lems in chalk on our side­walks.
  • Our cam­pus start­ed as a tuber­cu­lo­sis hos­pi­tal in the ear­ly 1900s, so we have some beau­ti­ful his­toric build­ings, includ­ing the Chapel where my main library is housed (I also run a small High School Media Cen­ter in anoth­er build­ing). The Chapel is 90 years old this year and is des­ig­nat­ed as an his­toric land­mark in the city of Den­ver. We’re work­ing on a grant appli­ca­tion that will help us to pre­serve and restore cer­tain parts of the build­ing, includ­ing the cop­per cupo­la and the zinc-camed win­dows. I’ve done a lot of research over the past few years and have pulled that infor­ma­tion togeth­er into a web­site that my stu­dents use to cre­ate pre­sen­ta­tions and tours of the Chapel for their par­ents.

Denver Academy Chapel

  • Our school is com­prised of diverse learn­ers, which can mean lots of things. Some of our stu­dents are diag­nosed with things like dyslex­ia or ADHD, and some have no diag­noses but do bet­ter with small­er class sizes. Either way, many of our stu­dents have strug­gled before com­ing to Den­ver Acad­e­my, and I think that their strug­gles and some of the pain they’ve expe­ri­enced make them some of the most com­pas­sion­ate, respect­ful kids I’ve ever met. There’s very lit­tle bul­ly­ing on our cam­pus because most of the stu­dents know the pain of being bul­lied or feel­ing “less than,” and they don’t want oth­ers to feel that way.
  • Our stu­dents are some of the most cre­ative peo­ple I’ve ever met. All of our stu­dents are bril­liant, and that bril­liance includes phe­nom­e­nal artists, gift­ed musi­cians, cre­ative writ­ers, and won­der­ful actors. Many of our alum­ni have gone on to make a liv­ing as actors, sculp­tors, and musi­cians.
  • Some peo­ple say our library and oth­er parts of our cam­pus are haunt­ed. A group of our teach­ers lead a “Haunt­ed Den­ver” class each year, and the ambiance of our Chapel library cou­pled with those ghost tales have inspired many stu­dent movies and sto­ries.

Denver Academy

Lisa: What recent changes or new ele­ments are affect­ing the work you do with stu­dents?

Jolene: I start­ed work­ing in my library over 20 years ago when we weren’t auto­mat­ed and I was writ­ing out over­due notices by hand. The tech­no­log­i­cal changes in the last 20 years have trans­formed both the way I man­age my library and the skills my stu­dents need to have when they grad­u­ate from our school. I do my best to keep up with teach­ing them what they need to know today as well as giv­ing them the crit­i­cal think­ing skills they’ll need in the future (because I have no idea where we’ll be in anoth­er 20 years)!

Lisa: What five books (or series) are checked out most often by your mid­dle school stu­dents?

Jolene: Dystopi­an fic­tion (espe­cial­ly that which has been made into movies like The Hunger Games, The Maze Run­ner, and The 5th Wave) has been very pop­u­lar this year, as have books by authors who’ve vis­it­ed our school recent­ly, includ­ing Avi’s Old Wolf and Bob­bie Pyron’s books Lucky Strike and The Dogs of Win­ter. And I know that’s six books, but I became a librar­i­an because I like words bet­ter than num­bers.

Denver Academy is reading

Lisa: What book(s) do you per­son­al­ly love to place into mid­dle school stu­dents’ hands?

Jolene: No spe­cif­ic titles; just the right book for each kid, includ­ing books that stu­dents love because they make the task of read­ing a lit­tle eas­i­er to tack­le:

  • Graph­ic nov­els are great for kids who have a tough time visu­al­iz­ing as they read because the pic­tures are pre-sup­plied. I also sug­gest graph­ic nov­els for the stu­dents who always ask for the nov­el­iza­tions of movies or books that movies are based on—these stu­dents may have issues with visu­al­iz­ing and pic­tur­ing things and might want to read about some­thing that they’ve seen visu­al­ly, like a movie. Movies are Cliff­s­Notes for kids who strug­gle with visu­al­iza­tion, and they often want to read some­thing they’ve already seen because they now have the images that go with the sto­ry.
  • Choose Your Own Adven­ture and sim­i­lar books are won­der­ful for reluc­tant read­ers because they get to feel like they’re cheat­ing at read­ing (so are graph­ic nov­els and non­fic­tion books with lots of pho­tos). Now that there are so many CYOA-ish book series out there, stu­dents can find both non­fic­tion and fic­tion books, and when I show stu­dents that they can skip around and not real­ly read the entire book, they get real­ly excit­ed and a lot of them actu­al­ly end up read­ing most of the book because they try to get a pos­i­tive end­ing to their sto­ry.
  • Series books give anx­ious stu­dents the answer to “What do I read next?” and help them to grow as a read­er as they work their way through each book in the series.
  • Audio books and/or large print books allow stu­dents who strug­gle with print oth­er options for access­ing books. If stu­dents have a learn­ing dif­fer­ence, they can work on grow­ing their read­ing and com­pre­hen­sion skills in a less intim­i­dat­ing man­ner with these resources.

Lisa: If you had a new staffer start­ing tomor­row, what piece of advice would you be sure to give them?

Jolene: Some of our stu­dents don’t love books or read­ing, and that’s okay. We’re here to help them at least learn to like libraries and trust librar­i­ans. Teach­ing stu­dents to access libraries teach­es them a life skill. And once stu­dents begin to trust you, they may become more open to explor­ing books with you. There’s noth­ing more ful­fill­ing than find­ing the right book for a reluc­tant read­er. Often­times, there is that one mag­i­cal book that will unlock the world of read­ing for kids, and that is one of the most reward­ing parts of being a librar­i­an. If you can find that per­fect book, you can help change a life for­ev­er.

Denver Academy

Lisa: What do you want your stu­dents to remem­ber about your library in ten years?

Jolene: I want them to remem­ber the mag­ic of this space and the fun we’ve had here! I hope our library teach­es stu­dents the joy of learn­ing and books. I want our library to pro­vide some warm fuzzy mem­o­ries for stu­dents once they’re grown, and I hope my stu­dents’ good mem­o­ries of their library will cause them to be life­long library users.

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From the Editor

by Mar­sha Qua­ley

ph_catI made my pro­fes­sion­al entrance into the world of children’s books in the ear­ly 1990s when the first of my YA nov­els was pub­lished. One thing that has changed dras­ti­cal­ly since then is the increased media cov­er­age; YA lit is an espe­cial­ly big show right now. While you still run across some ves­ti­gial arti­cles of the “Should Adults Read Children’s Books” nature, gone are the days when a children’s book author would be dis­missed out of hand as not being a real writer, espe­cial­ly by writ­ers of lit­er­ary fic­tion and poet­ry.

My response—most often deliv­ered to unap­pre­cia­tive but patient cats but a few times when face to face with those writers—was always, “Well, where do you think your read­ers come from? Do you think read­ers don’t exist until they dis­cov­er your writ­ing?” #snap!

Okay… #sad­snap. 

Shadow HeroAnoth­er thing that has changed is the preva­lence of graph­ic nov­els in the class­room, libraries, and pub­lish­ers’ cat­a­logues. For the sec­ond time in its short his­to­ry Bookology’s Book­storm™ book is a graph­ic nov­el: Gene Luen Yang and Son­ny Liew’s The Shad­ow Hero.

I’ve had the good for­tune of work­ing with Gene in a writ­ing pro­gram for adults. He is a nat­ur­al, bril­liant teacher. I’ve observed die-hard nov­el­ists and poets emerge from one of his Writ­ing a Graph­ic Nov­el work­shops excit­ed about this new sto­ry­telling form.

Of course it’s not real­ly new, just new to us here in the main­stream US book world. Wouldn’t you love to go back in a time machine to a library con­fer­ence in the 1940s or 50s and tell every­one about comics in the class­room? Can’t you just see the white gloves fly­ing up to smoth­er gasps or cov­er ears?

Lat­er this month we will have inter­views with both Gene and Son­ny. Today we’re rolling out the Book­storm™ and a cou­ple of relat­ed features—storm cells, you might call them (and yes, it’s pour­ing as I write this.) We also have a thought­ful Knock Knock essay by author Lynne Jonell: “Jus­tice in Anoth­er World.” Skin­ny Dip inter­views and our reg­u­lar columns will of course appear through­out this week and weeks to come.

Enjoy—and thank you for stop­ping by.

 

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Bookstorm: The Shadow Hero

Bookstorm-Shadow-Hero-Diagram-655px

In this Bookstorm™:

Shadow HeroShadow Hero

writ­ten by Gene Luen Yang
illus­trat­ed by Son­ny Liew
First Sec­ond, 2014

As we become a cul­ture adapt­ed to screens, visu­als, and mov­ing pic­tures, we grow more accus­tomed to the sto­ry­telling form of the graph­ic nov­el. For some, their com­fort with this com­bi­na­tion of visu­als and text telling a sto­ry sat­is­fies a crav­ing to “see” the sto­ry while they’re read­ing. For oth­ers, the lack of descrip­tive detail and mea­sured, lin­ear momen­tum through the sto­ry feels like a bar­ri­er to under­stand­ing. With the vari­ety of graph­ic nov­els avail­able and the inven­tive ways in which they’re assem­bled, we encour­age you to keep try­ing. Find a sto­ry that intrigues you and per­se­vere … we believe you’ll grow accus­tomed to this form. In time, you’ll add graph­ic nov­els to the depth of offer­ings you eager­ly rec­om­mend to stu­dents, patrons, and friends.

We select­ed Shad­ow Hero for our fea­tured book this month because the super­hero has been present in comics since the ear­ly 1900s and cur­rent films and tele­vi­sion have reawak­ened an inter­est among chil­dren that we believe can eas­i­ly trans­port them into read­ing. Yang and Liew have giv­en a back sto­ry to a super­hero, The Green Tur­tle, orig­i­nal­ly cre­at­ed by tal­ent­ed com­ic book artist (and fine artist) Chu Fook Hing in the 1940s. There’s plen­ty of action, humor, mys­tery, and sus­pense in this new book … all the right ingre­di­ents for the best read­ing.

In each Book­storm™, we offer a bib­li­og­ra­phy of books that have close ties to the the fea­tured book. For Shad­ow Hero, you’ll find books for a vari­ety of tastes, inter­ests, and read­ing abil­i­ties. Shad­ow Hero will be com­fort­ably read by ages 10 through adult. We’ve includ­ed pic­ture books, nov­els, and non­fic­tion for the pletho­ra of pur­pos­es you might have.

Graph­ic Nov­els About Super­heroes. With the pop­u­lar­i­ty of The Avengers and X-Men, Iron Man and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., there are a num­ber of graph­ic nov­els about super­heroes avail­able for dif­fer­ent ages. Some have mature con­tent. Many are acces­si­ble for younger read­ers. Whether or not they’re wear­ing capes, super­heroes are appeal­ing because of the pos­si­bil­i­ties.

Graph­ic Nov­els About Mythol­o­gy. The Green Tur­tle is a part of Chi­nese mythol­o­gy. We hear a lot about Greek and Roman mythol­o­gy, but there are com­pelling myths around the world. Graph­ic nov­els make those tra­di­tions and sto­ries avail­able to read­ers who might have trou­ble with straight text.

Fic­tion about Super­heroes. Longer texts, with­out illus­tra­tions, often hold as much attrac­tion for com­ic book read­ers if the sto­ries are engag­ing. And there are pic­ture books that are just right for the read­ers who are too young for graph­ic nov­els but have the inter­est.

Com­ic Books, Non­fic­tion. Whether it’s learn­ing how two boys came to invent Super­man, the super­hero from Kryp­ton, or exam­in­ing info­graph­ics and sta­tis­tics, or lis­ten­ing to a pod­cast with Gene Luen Yang on pub­lic radio about his inspi­ra­tion, The Green Tur­tle, there’s a lot of research and learn­ing to be done with super­heroes.

Draw­ing. For those kinet­ic and visu­al learn­ers, telling a sto­ry through draw­ing, pop­u­lat­ing a page with char­ac­ter­i­za­tion and set­ting and voice is a way to use com­ic book art for devel­op­ing writ­ing skills.

Chi­nese His­to­ry. There are many, many books, some of them quite schol­ar­ly, about Chi­nese his­to­ry. We’ve select­ed just two, both of which are also visu­al his­to­ries.

Chi­nese Art. Chi­na is such a large coun­try, with a civ­i­liza­tion that is thou­sands of years old, that these books orga­nize the infor­ma­tion in order to present the diver­si­ty of arts in a way that makes sense.

Chi­nese Immi­gra­tion. There are fine books about the immi­gra­tion of Chi­nese and Asian Pacif­ic peo­ple to Amer­i­ca, the Gold­en Moun­tain. We’ve select­ed a few, from pic­ture books to nov­els to mem­oir. 

Chi­nese Food. Read­ers learn a great deal about dif­fer­ent cul­tures from the food they eat, their tra­di­tions for prepar­ing food, and the ways they share it with their com­mu­ni­ty. We’ve found cook­books for both learn­ing and eat­ing, for adults and for chil­dren.

Chi­nese Geog­ra­phy. It always helps to have a good map to rein­force the visu­al knowl­edge of a coun­try. You’ll find sug­ges­tions for maps, down­loads, pho­tos, and facts about this large coun­try in Asia.

Tech­niques for using each book:

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Graphic Novels: A source of inspiration and mentor texts

by Mau­r­na Rome

Slacker illustrationFlash­back to the first week of school … we were pass­ing the micro­phone around our large cir­cle of 29 third-graders. It was easy to see that many stu­dents were shy and ner­vous, but one young man was appar­ent­ly look­ing for some shock val­ue. He began with “My name is Michael” then non­cha­lant­ly added, ”I’m a slack­er.” Huh? Most of the class mum­bled and mur­mured about that intro. Many were obvi­ous­ly not famil­iar with this unique adjec­tive.

I made note of the kid’s atti­tude and advanced vocab­u­lary, and put him at the top of my list for a one-to-one read­ing con­fer­ence. A few days lat­er, I dis­cov­ered that Michael devours books, has excel­lent com­pre­hen­sion and is actu­al­ly a very moti­vat­ed read­er. He became quite ani­mat­ed when telling me all about Greg, the main char­ac­ter from Diary of a Wimpy Kid (who no doubt was Michael’s cur­rent role mod­el). In the weeks to come, my clas­sic under-achiev­er proud­ly and often pro­claimed to his peers how much he enjoyed being lazy. I was deter­mined to help Michael find a new iden­ti­ty by fig­ur­ing out how to tap into his obvi­ous love of read­ing.

cover imageThanks to an insight­ful book called Of Pri­ma­ry Impor­tance by Anne Marie Corgill (Sten­house, 2008), I am com­mit­ted to immers­ing my stu­dents in authen­tic lit­er­a­cy learn­ing. Pub­lish­ing “real” hard cov­er books in my 1st grade class­room proved to be a suc­cess­ful strat­e­gy. How­ev­er, now that I was begin­ning my first year in a 3rd grade class­room, I knew I need­ed to change things up a bit. Find­ing the best men­tor texts and sim­ply get­ting kids to want to read vora­cious­ly was the first order of busi­ness.

I quick­ly learned that this group of 8- and 9-year-olds could be reeled in by read­ing graph­ic nov­els. Since our class­room inven­to­ry of graph­ic nov­els main­ly con­sist­ed of Squish, Bone, and Lunch Lady, I did some research and over the next few months added more titles to our class­room library. Baby Mouse, Zita the Space­girl, Card­board, Knights of the Lunch Table, The Light­en­ing Thief, and Sea of Mon­sters (graph­ic nov­el ver­sions) became all the rage. Library check­out of high demand titles has includ­ed Amulet, Smile, Sis­ters, and all of the titles from our class­room col­lec­tion, since they are lim­it­ed in num­ber.

cover imageI’ve learned that a pow­er­ful approach to moti­vat­ing kids to read is to be selec­tive when sug­gest­ing a new book to stu­dents. Some­times, I share whole-class “book talks” but, more often, I pull a stu­dent aside and con­fide that I thought of him (or her) the minute I turned the first page. I am sin­cere when I say that I am inter­est­ed in his opin­ion, and would real­ly appre­ci­ate hear­ing if he would rec­om­mend the book after read­ing it. Kids care much more about what their peers are say­ing or think­ing, so it makes sense to drum up busi­ness for spe­cif­ic book titles in this way.

Giv­ing kids access to what they want to read and find­ing ample time for inde­pen­dent read­ing dur­ing the school day (usu­al­ly 30–40 min­utes dai­ly) was just the first half of my strat­e­gy to con­vert my smug slack­er and inspire the rest of the class as well. The dis­cov­ery of blank com­ic books on the Bare Books web­site ($15 for 25 books, just 60 cents each); was the gold­en tick­et. Offer­ing choice and no judg­ment (or at least very lit­tle) about what kids are read­ing com­bined with encour­age­ment to explore their own inter­ests in writ­ing, became the per­fect com­bi­na­tion.

Kids were eager to cre­ate their own ver­sion of graph­ic nov­els and soon, our class­room library grew to include such inter­est­ing titles as The Day Lady Lib­er­ty Came to Life and Bacon Man and Pig Guy, both of which became series, each with 5 vol­umes! The adven­tures con­tin­ued with a line-up of Pigeon titles; Don’t Let the Pigeon Ride a Uni­corn and Don’t Let the Pigeon Play Five Nights at Freddy’s along with a fun and frol­ick­ing set of books enti­tled Par­ty in the USA!

Here is one of the graph­ic nov­els cre­at­ed in the class, Bacon Man and Pig Guy, by Ian Clark.
Click on the four-head­ed arrow sym­bol to view in full screen mode.

No flip­book found!

 

Stu­dents in my class are encour­aged to use lit­er­a­cy choice time to con­tin­ue read­ing or writ­ing inde­pen­dent­ly, with a part­ner or a col­lab­o­ra­tive group. This type of peer mod­el­ing and men­tor­ing has led to an explo­sion of self-pub­lished graph­ic nov­els and short sto­ries in 3MR. Kids actu­al­ly cheer when I announce that we will have time to write in both the morn­ing and after­noon. They are “pub­lish­ing” their own graph­ic nov­el series, ask­ing each oth­er to write reviews of their books and they are wait­ing patient­ly for their turn to read a classmate’s lat­est offer­ing. Best of all, they are sign­ing up in droves to do a “Book Share” on Fri­days, a new addi­tion to our “Book Talk, Book Shop, Book Swap” Fri­day activ­i­ties (see my pre­vi­ous arti­cle on that top­ic!).  

cover imageFast for­ward to the end of Decem­ber. Stu­dents were once again intro­duc­ing them­selves, this time to a vis­i­tor in our class­room. How­ev­er, when it was time for my “slack­er” to take cen­ter stage, he offered this: “Hi, my name is Michael and I’m a car­toon­ist.” My heart did som­er­saults! To real­ly seal the deal, this same stu­dent recent­ly approached me with a delight­ful idea. Tak­ing the lead from our “Card­board L.I.T. Club” – an after­school book club designed to Link Imag­i­na­tion Text, he pro­posed a “Car­toon­ing L.I.F.T. Club”, adding “F” for FUN to the acronym! This one-time slack­er had actu­al­ly jot­ted down all the infor­ma­tion need­ed for the invi­ta­tion­al fly­er, com­plete with a catchy expla­na­tion about the club’s pur­pose, a sched­ule, and con­test ideas. Despite the crazi­ness of the last few weeks of the school year, how could I say no? 20 aspir­ing “Car­toon­ing L.I.F.T. Club” mem­bers will be div­ing into our newest men­tor text, Adven­tures in Car­toon­ing, for three after-school ses­sions in May.

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Bookstorm: Lowriders in Space

Bookstorm: Lowriders in Space

In this Bookstorm™:

Lowriders in SpaceLowriders in Space

writ­ten by Cathy Camper
illus­trat­ed by Raul the Third
pub­lished by Chron­i­cle Books, 2014

Lupe Impala, El Cha­vo Flap­jack, and Elirio Malar­ia love work­ing with cars. You name it, they can fix it. But the team’s favorite cars of all are lowriders—cars that hip and hop, dip and drop, go low and slow, baji­to y suavecito. The stars align when a con­test for the best car around offers a prize of a trunk­ful of cash—just what the team needs to open their own shop! ¡Ay chi­huahua! What will it take to trans­form a junker into the best car in the uni­verse? Strik­ing, unpar­al­leled art from debut illus­tra­tor Raul the Third recalls ball­point-pen-and-Sharpie desk-drawn doo­dles, while the sto­ry is sketched with Span­ish, inked with sci­ence facts, and col­ored with true friend­ship. With a glos­sary at the back to pro­vide def­i­n­i­tions for Span­ish and sci­ence terms, this delight­ful book will edu­cate and enter­tain in equal mea­sure.”

In each Book­storm™, we offer a bib­li­og­ra­phy of books that have close ties to the the fea­tured book, Lowrid­ers in Space. You’ll find books for a vari­ety of tastes, inter­ests, and read­ing abil­i­ties.

Car Mechan­ics. An assort­ment of books offer­ing details and info­graph­ics about how cars work and how to build a car, suit­able from pri­ma­ry to mid­dle school.

Draw­ing Cars. A lot of learn­ing takes place when you draw a car. A read­er thinks deeply about how the car works, how the parts inter-relate, and you are tempt­ed to look up the details to ver­i­fy that you’re get­ting it right.  

Graph­ic Nov­els. There’s a rich his­to­ry of space explo­ration and sci­ence fic­tion in graph­ic nov­els. We include a few stel­lar (ahem) exam­ples that are sure to intrigue your read­ers. 

Lowrid­ers. The lowrid­er cul­ture and the artis­tic, mechan­i­cal­ly-inven­tive cars are an intrin­sic part of life in some parts of the US. You’ll find web­sites and books that explain more.  

Nov­els. Sci­ence fic­tion for young read­ers isn’t plen­ti­ful, but there are excel­lent books in this genre. Our rec­om­men­da­tions include a clas­sic and sev­er­al new books. 

Out­er Space. For some read­ers, the facts about out­er space are para­mount. Books with an overview, stick­er books, up-to-date books about what we cur­rent­ly under­stand … these will inter­est those truth-seek­ers.

Pic­ture Books. Cars and stars are favorite sub­jects for pic­ture book authors and illus­tra­tors. You’ll want to dis­cuss some of these in your class­room and offer sug­ges­tions for oth­ers as books for inde­pen­dent read­ing.

Sci­ence. Study­ing the skies is a life­time of work for many sci­en­tists, and their fields of endeav­or are broad and touch upon oth­er areas of sci­ence. Their dis­cov­er­ies change lives. From books look­ing at the con­stel­la­tions to those answer­ing sci­ence ques­tions, we rec­om­mend a few gems to get you think­ing.

Women Chang­ing the World. Dolores Huer­ta, Sonia Sotomay­or, Rad Amer­i­can Women A-Z … Lupe Impala is inspi­ra­tional. She will nat­u­ral­ly lead to ques­tions about oth­er women who have set their sites on the stars.

Tech­niques for using each book:

Downloadables


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Return of Zita the Spacegirl

The Return of Zita the Spacegirl

Ben Hatke can’t con­ceive of, write, and draw these sto­ries fast enough for me—and a host of oth­er fans. Just released, this book fol­lows Zita the Space­girl (2010) and Leg­ends of Zita the Space­girl (2012). Doing the math, I know I won’t be read­ing the next install­ment until 2016. Whah­hh. I’ve read so many sto­ries […]

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My New Hero

I am a fan of super­hero comics. After read­ing about talk­ing ducks, pre­co­cious teens at Riverdale High, and an equal­ly pre­co­cious rich kid, I want­ed some­thing with a real sto­ry, not a sit­u­a­tion. I wasn’t allowed to buy com­ic books, so I had to rely on the kind­ness of cousins. What­ev­er I could scrounge up […]

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A matter of character

I enjoy so many types of books, mar­veling that a writer or com­ic artist or archi­tect or jour­nal­ist or cook or explor­er thought long and stud­ied hard and wrote and revised and gave count­less hours to the cre­ation of their book. After all, how do you count the hours a book’s author spends dream­ing, observ­ing, […]

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