Written and Illustrated by: Miss Lasko-Gross
Publisher: Z2 Comics
Format: Softcover, 6 x 8, 168 pages, Black and White, $19.99
"Art needs an audience."
- Henni, the Disruptor, page 139 -
"Not even on my radar! Total surprise! Diamond just sent it to me. It arrived like a gift and is a gift . . . . Henni is one of those books you wish everyone would read."
I've spent a week reflecting on that statement. And I still absolutely mean it. Yes, this surprise gift to the graphic novel world is INDEED that memorable. Like Pip, Ishmael, Elizabeth Bennet, Huck Finn, and Tom Sawyer, Henni is a uniquely unforgettable voice in a story everyone should read.
From page one onward the reader finds Henni's physical surroundings strict and luminous, for the village in which her family lives attempts to control and stifle what is clearly a courageous-curiousity who wants to think outside the box, or in this case, the village itself. Right after we meet Henni we are with her as she witnesses the brutal and violent quelling of her father's bravery to think outside the dogma (virtual box) of the village.
As a result, the reader's guiding question becomes: Will Henni be brave and courageous enough to stand up for what she believes? Like her father, whose ears were cut off right in front of his on-looking family, will Henni dare to dream? Or will Henni lovingly follow in the village and her own mother's footsteps?
Elements of Story
Plot: Constrained by the beliefs of her family's village, Henni witnesses the brutal quelling of her father's open-minded thoughts. The reader and Henni both wonder: Just how courageous are our true, inner spirits? Or, if the Templemen and villagers can "properly" educate her, will Henni be able to avoid her father's path and "poisoned mind?"
Characters: Henni Hogarthe, Henni's father (Hedrik), Henni’s mother, Teradice, Henni's sister, village guardians, the Templemen, Kora, Carry, the Butcher, the Butcher's son, the Kosters, the Terror Heads, G-d, Hilde, stoning party, Elder Higgeon, the Captain, Ashinga, Bebethe, Zameri, Seffer, elders, farmers, elders, merchants, toilers, the Disruptor, prisoners, the Disruptor's father
Settings: The village, Henni's home, the Temple, the forest and fields both in and out of the village, the first ring, ring of Death, forbidden lands, the Northern lands, the Meadow of Perfection, the Bottomless Well, Elder Higgeon's house, court, Disruptor's Lair
Themes: Fear and bravery, truth and honesty, listening verse thinking, family, dogma and freedom of thought, free will and fate/destiny, creationism, sight and blindness
Recommended Common Core Standards for Young Adult Readers
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.
3. Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
Directions: One of the most logical ways to breakdown and discuss the key ideas and details, and their development throughout Henni, is to ask readers to complete a Beginning-Middle-End graphic organizer with a KWL (Know-Wonder-Learn) graphic organizer.
What does Henni KNOW at the beginning of the story?
What does Henni WONDER at the beginning of the story?
What does Henni LEARN at the beginning of the story?
What does Henni KNOW during the middle of the story?
What does Henni WONDER about during the middle of the story?
What does Henni LEARN during the middle of the story?
What does Henni KNOW at the end of the story?
What does Henni LEARN at the end of the story?
What does Henni WONDER at the end of the story?
Dr. Katie Monnin is an Associate Professor of Literacy at the University of North Florida. Besides the joy that comes with reading comic books and graphic novels, Dr. Monnin enjoys a Peter Pan-ish life of researching and writing her own books about teaching comics, graphic novels, and cartoons: Teaching Graphic Novels (2010), Teaching Early Reader Comics and Graphic Novels (2011), Using Content-Area Graphic Texts for Learning (2012), Teaching Reading Comprehension with Graphic Texts (2013), and Get Animated! Teaching 21st Century Early Reader and Young Adult Cartoons in Language Arts (2013); Teaching New Literacies in Elementary Language Arts (in press, 2014). When she is not writing (or sitting around wondering how she ended up making an awesome career out of studying comics and graphic novels), Dr. Monnin spends her time with her two wiener dogs, Sam and Max.