The Adventures of Digger and Friends
By Jack Briglio and Diego Jourdan
Publisher: IDW Publishing
So I've spent the last couple of hours writing around what I'm about to just write. I admit it. "I've never been interested in the sport of NASCAR." Until now.
The Adventures of Digger and Friends was so fun-to-read and so engaging I found myself doing all of the things I hope my students do when they read about something new: I laughed out loud, I predicted what might happen next, and I wanted to learn more. Even when it was over!
A clear setup for a series, Digger is actually a familiar character to many NASCAR fans, for he is, in fact, the Fox Sports' NASCAR mascot! But now, brought to life in graphic novel format, he and his friends have the opportunity to become classroom-friendly characters that can reach an entirely new audience outside of the NASCAR fan base.
Curiously smart and witty gophers, Digger and his friends plan to watch each and every race from the grassy green center of the track, no matter what Lumpy the police-badger has to say about it. Digger and his friends are more-than-enthusiastic NASCAR fans, for they are so thrilled by the sport they stage their own competitive races and adventures in its honor. From the fan-based stories about NASCAR itself to the staged and competitive races, Digger and his friends will most likely capture the heart and attention of librarians, teachers, and students alike.
So, at this point, I have to admit it: "Thanks to Digger and his friends I am now a fan of NASCAR."
English Language Arts Elements of Story
Plot: a collection of stories that focus on Fox Sports' NASCAR mascot Digger and his friends.
Setting: the grassy green center of the NASCAR track, their underground homes, and the immediate surroundings outside of the NASCAR track.
Major Characters: Digger, Lumpy, Grandpa, robots, Annie, Butch, Henry, Sammy, Theo, Groundhog
Themes: Friendship, Family, Adventure, Sports
Literary Pairing Suggestions: Is There Really a Human Race? by Jamie Lee Curtis, Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, The Dog that Stole Football Plays by Matt Christopher, The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg, Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey, The Berenstain Bears and the Trouble with Friends by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Some Teaching Recommendations For Early Reader Teachers and Librarians
Suggested Alignment to the IRA /NCTE Standard(s):*
- standard #s correspond to the numbers used by IRA/NCTE
1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
2. Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.
3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate and appreciate texts.
5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
Recommended Grade Levels: 2nd through 4th
Suggested Guided Reading Lesson Plan:
(Fountas & Pinnell, 1996)
Lesson Plan for 2nd thru 4th Grade Readers
Before students read Digger and Friends, ask them to leaf through the text for a few minutes and write down at least two or three predictions.
When students are finished, ask them to share their ideas with the class.
Keep a list of their predictions on the board.
IRA/NCTE standard alignment: 1, 2, and 3.
One of the most engaging aspects of this graphic novel is its ability to teach students about the sport of NASCAR.
As students read this early reader graphic novel ask them to keep a running list of character names, and, next to those names, the ideas those characters teach them about NASCAR; these ideas can be expressed with images or with words.
It is recommended that teachers write the characters’ names on the board and on a student handout:
The robots –
Because this graphic novel is formatted into chapters, students should be encouraged to add details as they move through each chapter.
IRA/NCTE standard alignment: 1, 2, and 3.
When students are done reading, engage them in a reflective discussion on what they learned about the sport of NASCAR.
Then, ask students to write (with images and/or with words) a detailed summary of what they feel are the three major, and most significant, ideas they learned about NASCAR.
After they finish these written or drawn summaries, ask each student to share his or her ideas with the class.
IRA/NCTE standard alignment: 1, 2, 3, and 5.
Katie Monnin, PhD, is an assistant professor of literacy at the University of North Florida and author of Teaching Graphic Novels: Practical Strategies for the Secondary ELA Classroom (2010) from Maupin House. To learn more about Teaching Graphic Novels or Katie Monnin, please go to this link: http://www.maupinhouse.com/monnin.php.