Adventures in Cartooning Activity Book

Adventures in Cartooning Activity BookAdventures in Cartooning Activity Book
Written and illustrated by: James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, and Alexis Frederick Frost
Publisher: First Second
Format: Softcover, 10 x 7.5, 80 pages, Black and White, $7.99
ISBN: 978-1-59643-598-8
Lesson plan by Dr. Katie Monnin

On a dull rainy day, the kind of day some of us may associate with Dr. Seuss' Thing 1 and Thing 2, a young Knight-in-training is bored out of his mind. But just when his boredom seems to be getting the best of him, a Magical Elf shows up to create some fun with comics.  But these aren't any kind of comics! The Magical Elf's Knight-in-training wants to know how to create cool monsters, awesome action sequences, cool character faces, moving motion lines, and engaging backgrounds. 

Along with the young Knight-in-training, readers of all ages will learn how to turn a boring, rainy day – in fact, any day! – into a creative comic-writing experience. For teachers and librarians, this means that Adventures in Cartooning: Activity Book is not just another book to recommend to students. Adventures in Cartooning: Activity Book is a book teachers and librarians will enjoy reading on their own, and, then, after seeing how well it aligns to the IRA/NCTE standards for creative writing, teaching to students.

From the movement of the reader’s eye to the importance of panels, backgrounds, and balloons, Adventures in Cartooning: Activity Book presents teachers, librarians and students a top-notch crash course in the power of comic storytelling. 

English Language Arts Elements of Story

Plot: On a rainy and boring day, a young Knight-in-training complains about having nothing to do. But when a Magical Elf appears and offers him a chance for adventure and excitement, the Knight-in-training learns how to create his own comic stories. 

Setting: The Knight-in-training's home, and, with their imaginations soaring, the various places the Magical Elf, Knight, and reader want to go!

Characters: Along with all the characters the reader and young Knight can think of, The Magical Elf, young Knight-in-training, and Edward the horse

Themes: Writing, Creativity, Adventure, Excitement, Taking Chances, and Trying Something New

Pairing Suggestions: Scott McCloud's Making Comics, Dr. James Bucky Carter's Building Literacy Connections with Graphic Novels, When Commas Meet Kryptonite by Dr. Michael Bitz, Teaching Graphic Novels by Dr. Katie Monnin, Drawing Words and Writing Pictures by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden

Some Teaching Recommendations For Middle School & High School English Language Arts

Suggested Alignment to the IRA /NCTE Standard(s):*

- standard #s correspond to the numbers used by IRA/NCTE

5.  Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.

11.  Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.

12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Suggested Guided Writing Lesson Plan:


In order to teach this guided writing lesson plan, teachers will need the following materials:

-scratch paper

-writing utensils

-a class set of Adventures in Cartooning: Activity Book is recommended but not necessary

It would be ideal for each student to have a copy. But whether or not each student has a copy, this guided writing lesson can be taught.

Right before the mini-lesson, students should be divided into small groups. These groups can be organized randomly or by ability levels.

·Mini-Lesson Modeling and Writing:

As a class, read pages 2 – 9 of Adventures in Cartooning: Activity Book. When you reach page 7, show students an example of a monster that you have drawn. Then, ask students to draw monsters either in their own copies of the book or on their own paper. When students are done drawing ask for volunteers to share their monster drawings with the rest of the class.

Next, the class can read pages 8 and 9 together. Once again modeling, show students your own drawing of a Knight jumping over a hole. Then, either in their own Adventures in Cartooning: Activity Book or on their own paper, ask students to draw their own Knight jumping over a hole. 


As students draw their own Knights jumping over holes, the teacher should walk around them room and consult with each group, asking to see examples and offering advice. 


When students are done drawing, ask them to share their drawings.

NOTE: All of the activities in Adventures in Cartooning: Activity Book can be taught using this basic guided writing lesson plan. 

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.