Adventure Time Volume 1

Adventure Time Vol. 1Adventure Time Volume 1
Written by: Ryan North
Illustrated by:
Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb
Publisher: BOOM! Studios/kaboom!
Format: 328 pages, Full Color, HC: 8 x 11, $34.99; SC: 7 x 10, $14.99
ISBN: HC: 978-1-60886-324-2; SC: 978-1-60886-280-1

One of the most vivid memories I have of the secretly-unique-and-can't-believe-I-was-ever-experiences about being a San Diego Comic Con Eisner Award judge this year centers around Adventure Time. But that's not where the story starts when you talk about Adventure Time . . .

A few years ago I saw a commercial for this new show on Cartoon Network called Adventure Time and thought, "Um, what? That looks totally ridiculous!" Since I adore cartoons and kids, however, I figured I should give it a fair shot and set up a DVR recording. Thinking "FAIL!" all the way, I was shocked to discover that the first episode was nothing less than: One of the best cartoons to ever grace my television screen!  And I take my TV viewing seriously, living alone in a three bedroom condo with three televisions (one of which is close to 90 inches)! To this day, the DVR is still set to record every single episode. I don't want to miss a thing, and I only watch it on the 90 incher.  

Hypothetical visual, which I hope to do in person someday. Picture me bowing humbly and apologizing to Cartoon Network (and creator Pendelton Ward) for my totally WRONG prediction, for Adventure Time is more than brilliant, more than a phenomenon. Move over all-you-cartoon-classics because we just broke new ground; or, at least, Ward and Cartoon Network have.

Sophisticated storytelling complete with critical thinking skills call on viewers of Adventure Time to reflect, connect, and analyze every single element of story we deem critical to traditional print-text literature. The characters, plots, settings, rising action, climax, falling action, themes, symbols, and overall craft of storytelling surpass every 21st century novel I have read. In other words, Harry Potter and The Hunger Pains do not measure up when compared to Adventure Time (in my now humble opinion). So, if you haven't already, I invite you to meet Finn the human and Jake the dog in Adventure Time. Their adventures and their friendship are fun, silly, and educational. Yes, educational! Jake and Finn play with words and inferences in every single episode, making for an exceptional teaching resource in today’s classrooms: phonemic awareness, phonics, puns, fluency, poetry, creative writing, idioms and much more.  

In this particular graphic novel Finn and Jake are sucked into this scary dude's - "The Lich's" - magical bag.  No worries though. Finn the human and Jake the dog are always up for adventure. After all, they practice being heroes every day. On their hero-list of things to do in this graphic novel:
• Escape The Lich's magical bag,
• Save the land of Ooo,
• Rescue all the other kingdoms,
• Protect their friends,
• And rescue the people in every single kingdom overtaken by The Lich.

In a normal review I might ask: "Are Finn and Jake heroic enough to face this adventure and battle The Lich?"

But this is not a normal show. And deserves more respect. Instead, I ask: "Are you heroic enough to join Finn and Jake on their adventure? Can you - or any other contemporary or classic cartoon - hold a candle to all of their heroic awesomeness?"

English Language Arts Elements of Story

Plot: The Lich has stolen every kingdom in the land and put them in his magical bag - NEVER to let them escape. The Lich's plan doesn't matter to Finn and Jake though.  They are the most amazing self-proclaimed heroes EVER! Absolutely sure they can battle The Lich and win Finn and Jake are up for the challenge.   

Setting: Land of Ooo, The Lich's magical bag

Major Characters: Finn, Jake, Princess Bubblegum, Marceline the Vampire Queen, The Lich, BMO, Ice King, Earl of Lemongrab, Desert Princess

Themes: Individualism and Teamwork, Myth and Legend, Relationships, Friendships, Adventure, Heroism

Traditional and Contemporary Literary Pairing Suggestions: S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders, Mark Twain's Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, Pendelton Ward's Marceline and the Scream Queens comic book series, Gene Luen Yang's Avatar the Last Airbender, Matt Groening's The Simpsons comic books, Jeff Smith's Bone series, J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, Alexis E. Farjado's Kid Beowulf series, Landry Q. Walker and Eric Jones' Supergirl, Lewis Carroll's Alice in Adventures in Wonderland

Some Teaching Recommendations For Young and Tween Readers

Suggested Alignment to the Common Core Standards:*
*Standard numbers correspond to the literal common core standards numbers, www.commoncorestandards.com

Key Ideas and Details
1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
2. Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

Reading Lesson Plan for Adventure Time: Volume 1

Directions: The key ideas and details from Adventure Time are extremely critical to the series, for they continue to influence later issues and ongoing plots between characters. As a result, I recommend two reading strategies that emphasize how the timeline of events highlight central ideas and themes from Adventure Time.

To begin, ask students to keep track of each major event in the story by making small vertical lines - in chronological order - on the horizontal timeline graphic organizer found below. Be sure to tell students that they need to write a brief description for each vertical mark/event they choose.

Below the timeline students will also find two categories. These categories are: Central Ideas and Themes. For each timeline marking students need to draw an arrow to one or both of those categories, and, in doing so, also provide a more detailed rationale as to why that event was either a central idea or a theme (perhaps even both).  Students should feel free to draw or write their responses.

Adventure Time Timeline and Activity



Central Ideas










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.