Knights of the Lunch Table: The Battling Bands, by Frank Cammuso
Published by Graphix
Calling all teachers, librarians, students, and parents! Have you been looking for a graphic novel that can capture any reader's attention and admiration? If so, I've got a graphic novel recommendation for you.
Thoughtfully written and eye-poppingly-illustrated, Frank Cammuso's third installment of his Knights of the Lunch Table series is an all around "win" for readers of all ages. Just like its two predecessors, this third installment in the series (Knights of the Lunch Table: The Battling Bands) respectfully re-envisions the Arthurian Legend not only for early and middle level readers, but also for their parents, teachers, and librarians.
Not the most talented—or even the most knowledgeable—musicians Artie and a few of his friends enter the school talent show, and a Battle of the Bands ensues. But how can Artie and his friends win the Camelot Middle School Battle of the Bands with absolutely no training and no talent? There is only one way. With rumors of a fabled "Singing Sword" hidden somewhere in the school and able to grant them the powers to be rockstars, Artie and his friends set out on a quest full of lessons about friendship, loyalty, legend, and trust.
English Language Arts Elements of Story
Plot: Artie and his friend have no musical talent or training. Yet they have entered the school talent show, where a Battle of the Bands ensues. Their only hope . . . a fabled "Singing Sword" hidden somewhere in the school.
Setting: Artie's home and school
Major Characters: Artie, Wayne, Percy, Artie's mom, Artie's sister (Morgan), Melody, Joe, Mrs. Dagger, Ms. Harper, Mr. Merlyn, the lunch ladies, Gwen, Lance, Miss Flunke, Mr. Fisher, Davy and the Druids
Themes: Friendship, Loyalty, Trust, Legend, Growing Up and/or Coming of Age
Traditional and Contemporary Literary Pairing Suggestions: Any King Arthur legend, Kevin Crossley-Holland's Arthur Trilogy, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton, The Odyssey by Homer, The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor, The Giver by Lois Lowry, J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter Series
Teaching Recommendations For Middle School Readers
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.
Suggested Guided Reading Lesson Plan
Before Reading: Divide the room into five stations and place a poster at each station; for visual enrichment it may be helpful to assign a specific color to each station. Assign each station a theme: Friendship, Loyalty, Trust, Legend, Growing Up and/or Coming of Age.
Before students begin reading, ask them to pick a station, and, in their new groups, brainstorm a definition for their theme. Ask students to write those brainstorming ideas on the back of the poster. When they are done, students should share their definitions with the rest of the class.
During Reading: With predetermined stopping points in mind have students read in their groups. At each stopping point ask the student groups to take notes about their theme, and its presence in Cammuso's Knights of the Lunch Table: The Battling Bands. With both written words and visual images students can keep track of their notes on the front of the poster.
After Reading: When students are done reading ask them to rank their poster notes. What events or situations were most important? And why? Again, on their posters, ask students to use both written words and visuals to explain their choices.
Finally, assign students the following activity: "As a group, decide upon the most important situation and/or event and compose a short reenactment of that situation/event. Feel free to draw visuals on the board in order to help set the stage for your reenactment."
One group at a time students can present their reenactments to the class. Following each reenactment engage the class in discussion: "Given their theme, why do you think this group choose to reenact __specific situation and/or event__." The presenting group should also feel encouraged to respond and further explain their decisions.
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.