Costume Quest: Invasion of the Candy Snatchers

Costume Quest: Invasion of the Candy SnatchersCostume Quest: Invasion of the Candy Snatchers
Written and Illustrated by: Zac Gorman
Publisher: Oni Press
Format: Hardcover, 9 x 13, 54 pages, Full Color, $24.99
ISBN: 978-1-62010-190-2

Tapped into our lively and ongoing wonder we never seem to grow out of each Halloween season, this early reader graphic novel once rethinks some traditional topics: Is Halloween a real holiday with REAL monsters? Is this holiday make believe, memorable merely by who has the best costume or the most candy? Or maybe it is simply all about the candy, period? What about the memories we make with friends and family?

With slight nods toward all of the traditional Halloween themes Gorman's early reader graphic novel Costume Quest pushes the adventurous themes that guide our adoration for this holiday one step further. What if, on top of all that thinking we do about costumes, candy, and our very best friends and family each October, we also had to decide whether or not to travel through magic portals between the human and monster worlds?

Welcome to the Grubbin monster world of Repugia where candy is scarce but magic portals aren't. Spurred on by a desire to be one of the cool-kids in Repugia, Klem convinces his friends that if they are the ones to travel into the human world and retrieve just a bit of human candy they will be catapulted to local town-hall-and-cool-kid status in Repugia; determined not to be a "dork," Klem argues, a Halloween booty from the human world is their best ticket to local stardom.

It's not that easy, though, for Klem and friends. They must not only successfully travel from Repugia into the human world, find the candy, and then get back to the monster world with candy in hand, but also successfully navigate the hurdles of being chased by Repugia's local bully Ophrion and his gang who want the candy just as badly.

Building upon everyone's already existing schema about the famous Halloween season, teachers, parents, librarians and friends will most surely enjoy reading this story with young readers. I mean, who doesn't want to add to the excitement of the Halloween season by thinking about yet another adventure and its potential to make this time of year more memorable?

"Is it even possible?" we may wonder.
"Yes! Absolutely!," answers Gorman's Costume Quest.

English Language Arts Elements of Story

Plots: Klem and his friends are not popular. But they are witty.

The monster world of Repugia is experiencing a candy shortage. And during the Halloween season! Yikes!

As far as Klem and his friends see it, there are two problems to be solved this holiday season:

1. Repugia is experiencing a candy shortage during the Halloween season, and
2. They are not very popular, often bullied by and picked on by Ophrion and his gang of popular monsters

As a result, Klem and friends devise a plan to transport themselves from the monster world of Repugia, into the human world, steal some human candy, and back again to the monster world and ultimately to popular, cool kid glory and fame. Not everyone sees their plan as positive and glorybound, however. Local bully Ophrion and his clique are determined to crash the party.

Major Characters: Klem, Ophrion, Sellie, Verena Snout, Brolo, Ben, Dilly

Major Settings: monster world, human world (Auburn Pines neighborhood, Repugia, Halloween parties

Major Themes: loyalty, friendship, allegiance, tradition, plans and outcomes, sharing, definitions of "fun", risk and adventure

Reading Recommendations Using the 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.
* The number(s) referenced above corresponds to the number used by the Common Core Standards (www.commoncore.org)

Guided Reading Lesson Idea for Young Adult Readers:

Before Reading Directions
Writing notes on the board, identify and discuss the key elements of story in this early reader graphic novel. You can do so by discussing each of the basic key elements of story in turn: plot(s), setting(s), and character(s).

During Reading Directions
As students read the text ask them to add, subtract, and/or reconsider their growing understanding of all of the elements of story.

In other words, and perhaps with a peer or two, students can simultaneously read and take notes, building upon the notes they took before reading. The goal is to have a documented "working map" of the reading and comprehension experience for each reader when finished reading.

After Reading Directions
When students are done reading the text ask them to think about how this story may or may not influence their own Halloween holiday plans. Students can be given 20 - 30 minutes to explain (being sure to reference back to the text) why their plans have or have not changed for this year's Halloween holiday.

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.