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The Shadow Hero Companion Booktalks

A 12-pack to get you start­ed on the Book­storm™ Books …

bk_100_5Minute5‑Minute Mar­vel Sto­ries, by Dis­ney Book Group, Mar­vel Press, 2012. Ages 3 and up.

  • Per­fect read-aloud length for younger fans
  • Nice intro­duc­tion for new­com­ers to Spi­der­man, Iron­man, the Hulk, the Avengers, the X‑Men, Cap­tain Amer­i­ca
  • Oth­er than a few swing­ing fists, lit­tle vio­lence

bk_100_BoysSteelBoys of Steel: the Cre­ators of Super­man, by Marc Tyler Noble­man, illus­trat­ed by Ross Mac­don­ald, Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Read­ers, 2008. Ages 8 and up.

  • How two high school out­siders cre­at­ed the most famous super hero
  • Pic­ture book for­mat but text and illus­tra­tions will appeal to inde­pen­dent read­ers
  • Back mat­ter includes the sto­ry of the writer and artist’s super strug­gle to be acknowl­edged and com­pen­sat­ed ful­ly for their cre­ation

bk_100_BrothersBroth­ers, by Yin, illus­tra­tions by Chris Soent­pi­et, Philomel, 2006. Ages 8 and up.

  • The sto­ry of Ming, a Chi­nese immi­grant who arrives in San Fran­cis­co’s Chi­na­town in the 1800s
  • A friend­ships sto­ry devel­ops when Ming defies an old­er brother’s orders and ven­tures past the Chi­na­town bor­der
  • Beau­ti­ful, detailed wide-spread water col­or illus­tra­tions on every page 

bk_100_CompleteGuideCom­plete Guide to Fig­ure Draw­ing for Comics and Graph­ic Nov­els, by Dan Cooney, Barron’s Edu­ca­tion­al Series, 2012. Ages 10 and up.

  • Every page has mul­ti­ple tips and exam­ples with very read­able text and clear illus­tra­tions.
  • Empha­sizes clas­sic com­ic book action pos­es and char­ac­ter
  • Back mat­ter includes advice on sub­mit­ting port­fo­lios and a glos­sary 

bk_100_DragonwingsDrag­onwings, by Lau­rence Yep, Harper­Collins, 1977.

  • In the ear­ly 20th Cen­tu­ry, a young boy trav­els from Chi­na to Amer­i­ca to meet a father he doesn’t know.
  • Part of the Gold­en Moun­tain series con­sist­ing of 10 books
  • New­bery Hon­or book 


bk_100_FoiledFoiled by Jane Yolen, illus­tra­tions by Mike Cav­al­laro, First Sec­ond, 2011. Ages 8 and up.

  • Aliera’s ordi­nary life changes when she meets a new guy, acquires a new sword (she’s into fenc­ing) and one day heads to Grand Cen­tral Sta­tion
  • Man­ga-style illus­tra­tions alter­nate between two-tone (ordi­nary world) and full col­or (the fan­tas­tic), occa­sion­al­ly merg­ing
  • Details of fenc­ing skills and equip­ment pro­vide unusu­al back­ground and good char­ac­ter devel­op­ment

bk_100_MarvelWayHow to Draw Comics the Mar­vel Way, by Stan Lee and John Busce­ma, Touch­stone, 1984. Ages 8 and up.

  • Author Stan Lee is the cre­ator of many comics leg­ends, Busce­ma is the illus­tra­tor of many cur­rent comics
  • Many exam­ples begin with stick fig­ures and devel­op step by step — per­fect for novice and expe­ri­enced illus­tra­tor
  • Includes glos­sary

bk_100_LittleWhiteLit­tle White Duck: a Child­hood in Chi­na, by Na Liu and Andres Vera Mar­tinez, illus­tra­tions by Andrés Vera Martínez. Graph­ic Uni­verse, 2012. Ages 8 and up.

  • Graph­ic mem­oir about Na Liu’s child­hood in 1970s Chi­na; wife/husband col­lab­o­ra­tion
  • Divid­ed into 8 short sto­ries
  • Includes glos­sary of Chi­nese words and at-a-glance time­line of Chi­nese his­to­ry

bk_100_PowerlessPow­er­less, by Matthew Cody, Knopf, 2009. Ages 8 and up.

  • Daniel is the new kid in a town — and the only one his age with­out a super­pow­er
  • A Sher­lock Holmes fan, Daniel decides to unearth the mys­tery behind the super­pow­ers his new friends have — and why they dis­ap­pear at age 13
  • First in series of three

bk_SharkKing_extendedShark King by R. Kikuo John­son, TOON Books, 2013. Ages 4 to 8. Asian Pacif­ic ALA’s Lit­er­ary Award.

  • Child-friend­ly ver­sion of a Hawai­ian myth
  • Clean lay­out — no sen­so­ry over­load from text or illus­tra­tions
  • Includes dis­cus­sion mate­r­i­al for teach­ers and par­ents


bk_100ABCSuper­Hero ABC, writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Bob McLeod, Harper­Collins, 2008. Ages 3 and up.

  • An alpha­bet book, not a primer on super­heroes, with com­ic-like illus­tra­tions
  • Humor­ous orig­i­nal heroes and hero­ines, such as Bub­ble­man and Fire­fly
  • Good prompt for indi­vid­ual or group super­hero writ­ing or draw­ing project

bk_Zita100Zita the Space­girl, by Ben Hatke, First Sec­ond, 2011. Ages 8 and up.

  • Graph­ic nov­el with a Wiz­ard of Oz sto­ry­line: young girl is trans­port­ed to a strange world
  • Though Zita is try­ing to save an abduct­ed friend, and though the plan­et is about to be destroyed, the text and art are more about fun than fear
  • How many weird crea­tures can you find?



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.


Lowriders in Space Companion Booktalks


To get you start­ed on the Book­storm™ books …

13 Planets13 Plan­ets: The Lat­est View of the Solar Sys­tem, by David A. Aguilar. Nation­al Geo­graph­ic Children’s Books, 2011.  Grades 2 – 6

  • Report mate­r­i­al galore, beau­ti­ful­ly orga­nized
  • Illus­trat­ed with a com­bi­na­tion of pho­tographs and dig­i­tal art
  • Includes sev­er­al hands-on activ­i­ties

Car Science coverCar Sci­ence: an Under-the-Hood, Behind-the-Dash Look at How Cars Work, by Richard Ham­mond, DK Books, 2008. Grades 3 and up

  • Key physics con­cepts as they relate to how cars run
  • DK’s sig­na­ture explod­ed dia­grams, cut­aways, and high-inter­est visu­als
  • Mate­r­i­al is divid­ed into intrigu­ing sec­tions: Pow­er, Speed, Han­dling, and Tech­nol­o­gy

Chato's Kitchen coverChato’s Kitchen, by Gary Soto, illus­tra­tions by Susan Gue­vara, Pen­guin, 1997. Preschool through Grade 3.

  • Mouse fam­i­ly vs Cha­to, a very cool cat
  • Good sto­ry for “pre­dic­tion”
  • Span­ish and Eng­lish vocab­u­lary

Draw 50 Cars coverDraw 50 Cars, Trucks, and Motor­cy­cles: The Step-by-Step Way to Draw Drag­sters, Vin­tage Cars, Dune Bug­gies, Mini Chop­pers, and Much More, by Lee J. Ames, Wat­son-Gup­till, 2012.  Grade 1 through Adult.

  • From a Dis­ney stu­dios artist
  • Vari­ety of draw­ing projects suit­able for range of expe­ri­ence
  • Step-by-step” is real­ly lay­er-by-lay­er, show­ing how a draw­ing is “built”

Girls Think of Everything coverGirls Think of Every­thing: Sto­ries of Inge­nious Inven­tions by Women, by Cather­ine Thimmesh, illus­trat­ed by Melis­sa Sweet, Houghton Mif­flin Har­court, 2002. Grades 3 and up.

  • Sib­ert-win­ning author, Calde­cott-win­ning artist
  • Inven­tions from exot­ic to famil­iar
  • Inven­tors and inven­tions going back to 3000 BC

If I Built a CarIf I Built a Car, by Chris Van Dusen. Dut­ton Books for Young Read­ers, 2005.  Pri­ma­ry grades.

  • 2006 E.B. White Read Aloud Award
  • Clas­sic Van Dusen illus­tra­tions: bold col­ors, car­toon-style (look for hid­den ref­er­ences to a few oth­er Van Dusen books)
  • Great dis­cus­sion starter for all ages: What kind of car would YOU design?

Mr. Mendoza's Paintbrush coverMr. Mendoza’s Paint­brush, by Luis Alber­to Urrea, illus­trat­ed by Christo­pher Car­di­nale, Cin­co Pun­tos Press, 2010. Grades 7 and up.

  • Graph­ic nov­el about a graf­fi­ti artist and Mex­i­can vil­lage life, with some mag­ic real­ism
  • Nar­ra­tive is a non-lin­ear rem­i­nis­cence — bold flash­es of sto­ry to match the art
  • Rich­ly-col­ored wood­block-style art

My Little Car coverMy Lit­tle Car, by Gary Soto, illus­trat­ed by Pam Paparone, Put­nam, 2006. Preschool and pri­ma­ry grades.

  • Child-grand­par­ent sto­ry
  • Eng­lish and Span­ish vocab­u­lary
  • Just how do you make a car dance?

NicoVisitsNico Vis­its the Moon, by Hon­o­rio Rob­le­do, Cin­co Pun­tos Press, 2001. Preschool and pri­ma­ry grades.

  • Vivid, imag­i­na­tive, art
  • Crawl­ing baby, bal­loons, the moon — each page turn deliv­ers a fan­ta­sy sur­prise
  • Bilin­gual in Span­ish and Eng­lish

Norther Lights coverNorth­ern Lights: The Sci­ence, Myth, and Won­der of the Auro­ra Bore­alis, by George Bryson, pho­tographs by Calvin Hall and Daryl Ped­er­son, Sasquatch Books, 2001. Grades 3 and up for look­ing at the pho­tographs, grades 5 and up for the sci­ence.

  • Beau­ti­ful pho­tographs that can be looked at again and again
  • Dis­cuss­es the many myths and leg­ends inspired by the lights
  • Con­cise expla­na­tion of geo­physics behind the phe­nom­e­non

Remind coverRemind, by Jason Brubak­er, Cof­fee Table Comics, 2011. Grades 5 and up.

  • Graph­ic nov­el with a great cast: Son­ja, a young woman who is a mechan­i­cal genius; Vict­uals, her cat that may have received the brain of an exiled lizard man; an under­wa­ter colony of lizard peo­ple
  • Won­der­ful array of mechan­i­cal inven­tions (Dis­cuss: what kind of giz­mos would you like to invent?)
  • Crisp, unclut­tered illus­tra­tions — at times suit­ably creepy

Shark King CoverShark King, by R. Kikuo Johnon, TOON Books, 2012. Grades 1 and up.

  • Child-friend­ly ver­sion of a Hawai­ian myth
  • Clean, high­ly read­able lay­out — no sen­so­ry over­load from text or illus­tra­tions
  • Includes dis­cus­sion mate­r­i­al for teach­ers and par­ents


Zita coverZita the Space­girl, by Ben Hatke, First Sec­ond, 2010.  Grades 3 and up.

  • Graph­ic nov­el with a Wiz­ard of Oz sto­ry­line: young girl is trans­port­ed to a strange world
  • Though Zita is try­ing to save an abduct­ed friend, and though the plan­et is about to be destroyed, the text and art are more about fun than fear
  • How many weird crea­tures can you find?



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 “in my life and time,” pre­dict­ed the out­come of tele­vi­sion and movie plots with reg­u­lar­i­ty, that it’s a remark­able plea­sure when I don’t know what’s com­ing next.… more
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