Written and Illustrated by: Ryan Fisher
Publisher: White Rabbit Comics
Format: Hardcover/Softcover, 10.75 x 6.875/10.25 x 6.75, 200 pages, Full Color, $34.99/$24.99
Once in awhile I come across a graphic novel that seems to draw me towards it. At this year's Denver Comic Con I was simply browsing through the aisles of the con when I felt a strong urge to look to my left. There, sitting on a table with its author and illustrator Ryan Fisher, was one of the most beautiful graphic novel covers I've ever seen. Intense yet innocent. Adventurous yet hesitant. The cover of Torchlight Lullaby drew me over to Fisher's table, who very generously allowed me to leaf through its pages and read a bit of the story. While Fisher allowed me to look over his debut graphic novel I absolutely knew I wanted to review it and write an educator's lesson plan for it as well.
So if your interests are peaked, here's a snapshot of what to expect (and what I would HIGHLY recommend you read) in Torchlight Lullaby...
Imagine this: If you introduce C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe's wardrobed gateway between two worlds with any mythical story of your choice, and then add a dash of Kazu Kibiushi's Amulet series (particularly focusing on his young, yet forced to face her fears and grow from those experiences heroine) you'll have a pretty solid idea about what to expect in Torchlight Lullaby.
With lullaby's introducing each chapter, readers get to know Ella and her stuffed animal mouse "Winchell." A stuffed animal in our world, Winchell is a fully rounded and alive character in Ella's dreamworld, and as Ella's dreamworld starts to take over her waking world Ella must face her fears and decide who she really is and wants to be.
English Language Arts Elements of Story
Plot(s): A young girl named Ella enters a dreamworld, which seems just fine, but when that dreamworld starts invading her waking world Ella must face her greatest fears.
Major Characters: Ella, Ella's mom and dad, Winchell, Vitava, Buzzard, Wilderbeast
Major Settings: The Forest of Golem, the snowy world, the cave, bus stop, school / Cecilia’s Elementary, the dreamworld verse the waking world
Major Themes: Identity, Other Worlds, Trust and Bravery, Safety and Fear, Lullabies, Personification, Dreams and Reality
Reading/Literacy Recommendations For Young Adult Readers in Language Arts Grades 4 - 8
All standards dealing with "Craft and Structure" relate to teaching the following lesson plan with Torchlight Lullaby.
Present students with a handout that lists each chapter and its full, written-out, lullaby.
After reviewing that handout with students ask them to pick one chapter and its lullaby. After making their selection, next give students a blank piece of paper and tell them to rewrite that lullaby in the middle of the paper.
Explain how critical each lullaby is to the craft and structure (what happens and when it happens) during the story.
Finally, ask students to identify key visual and/or textual moments that best exemplify how that lullaby plays out in the story, best exemplifies when and what happens. Once identified students should rewrite or redraw those "when" and "what" moments around the lullaby, drawing arrows from each "when" and "what" to its literal worded connection in the lullaby.
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 (2014); Teaching New Literacies in Elementary Language Arts (2015). 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 three wiener dogs, Samantha, Max, and Alex Morgan Monnin.