Katie's Korner: Graphic Novel Reviews for Schools and Libraries

Mighty JackStone Cold: The Stone Man Mysteries, Book One
Written by Jane Yolen & Adam Stemple
Illustrated by Orion Zangara

Publisher: Graphic Universe
Format: Softcover, 8.8 by 6.6, 80 pages, Black & White, $8.99
ISBN: 978-1512411553


Set in the historical time frame of 1930s Scotland, a young boy named Craig McGowan is about to jump off the rooftop of a church.  Despite his attempts, however, he doesn't succeed.  He finds salvation when a stationary and stone gargoyle-like beast named Silex rescues him, sparing his life only to enlist him as a pseudo-foot-soldier to do some very serious and dark-hearted detective oriented groundwork. 

And that dark footwork involves? 

Craig is going to help Silex investigate, in the hopes of solving, a series of murders that have plagued Edinburg, Scotland. 

With the help of Father Harris, Craig sets out to solve these murderous serial killer tragedies with no help from the authorities (who mysteriously seem to be of no help). 

Yet off Craig and Father Harris go anyways . . . onto the streets of Edinburg to catch a serial killer loose and on the run.  

English Language Arts Elements of Story

Plot: A young man named Craig is saved from a church rooftop and fatal jump when a stone beast-like gargoyle named Silex begins talking and enlists him to solve a series of mysterious murders in 1930s Edinburg, Scotland.

Major Characters: Craig McGowan, Selix, Father Harris, Lord Angus McFearsome (Earl of Stockbridge), Mr. Bowles, Father Kirkland, the Police, the informative street children, street merchants, Prospero, Bruiser, Mrs. Mac, Janie Douglas, Detective Ben Bones, King George, Benny McDonald, Alison Campbell, Charlie Stuart, St. Silas, God

Major Settings: Church, Streets of Edinburg, Scotland, Lord McFearsome’s home, St. Brides, Grassmarket

Themes: Mystery and Investigation, Second Chances, Unexpected Relationships and Connections, Clues and Evidence, Truth and Lies, Politics and Freedom, Faith and Weapons, Bravery


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. 

Lesson Idea for Young Adult Readers

Directions: Stone Cold: The Stoneman Mysteries is brilliantly riddled with clues about the Stoneman’s quest to solve the case of a serial killer on the loose in 1930s Edinburg, Scotland.  For that reason, this lesson plan requires students to read the graphic novel and look for clues as they go along. 

Directions for Graphic Organizers:

To begin, ask students to take notes of clues they notice as they read.  Second, ask student to work in small groups to identify 4 - 5 MAJOR clues to the mystery.  As they do so students should decide (amongst themselves) on a title for each of their 4 - 5 MAJOR clues and record those titles on the case file images below (on the tab for each case file clue-folder).  Inside of the case file image students should:

  • List the page number(s) where they found their clue
  • Discuss the clue in detail
  • Explain its significance
  • Finally, link that clue to other case file clues they identify out of their 4 - 5 chosen options*


* Since this is a graphic novel students should be encouraged to both draw and / or write on their case file folders. 






Bessie Stringfield: Tales of the Talented TenthBessie Stringfield: Tales of the Talented Tenth 
Created by Joel Christian Gill
Fulcrum Publishing
Format: Softcover, 8 x 10, 158 Full Color, $23.95
ISBN: 978-1938486944



Even if I were not a Floridian (and a Miami Dolphin fan . . . lol) I would highly promote and strongly suggest that readers pick up and absorb the amazing work being put forth by the graphic novel series about the Talented Tenth.  Published by Fulcrum, the series focuses on various tales about extremely courageous and talented African Americans, each of whom leaves a unique historical and impressive footprint sure to capture the attention of readers of all ages.

In this particular graphic novel in the Talented Tenth series, Bessie Stringfield takes center stage.  A pioneering woman with a motorcycle talent all her own, she bravely road through the years when Jim Crow disgustingly reigned throughout the South.  In doing so, Stringfield paves the way not only for women motorcyclists, but also for all cyclists.  To learn more about her courageous journey, and to enjoy this graphic novel as much as I did, I refuse to share more.  But I do guarantee that Stringfield’s story will inspire all readers.  Just wait and see!  This woman was one cool-cat! 

For extra incentive, which you don't need because this graphic novel is intoxicating, I want to share a moment in the text that stopped me dead in my tracks when I read it.  Abandoned in a dank hotel by her father in a new country and a new city, immediately following her mother’s death, an extremely young Bessie begins her unique, individual journey with this quotation . . .

“I was there for a long time; it must have been a few days.  I slept during most of it, because I was scared and hungry.  Then one day, a commotion woke me up.”


English Language Arts Elements of Story

 Bessie Stringfield is a pioneering motorcyclist paving the way for future cyclists and pioneers of any sport or passion of their choice.  Riding her way through the Jim Crow South during the 1930s and 1940s, two to three decades prior to the Civil Right movements very beginnings, Stringfield literally paves a historical path that many both now and in the future will continue to follow and build upon.

Major Characters: 
Bessie Stringfield, Bessie’s parents, mean hotel owner, Bessie’s adopted guardian, Bessie’s six husbands (especially the one who gave her “The Negro Motorist Green Book”), Ku Klux Klan, Carnival Ringmaster, Captain Jack, the Civilian Motorcycle Couriers for the Military, Iron Horse Motorcycle Club

Major Settings: Jamaica, Boston, MA, ship to America from Jamaica, being on the road in the United States and Canada, Stone Mountain, Carnival, Opa-Locka Florida, movie theatre, beach, Europe, parades, Miami Florida

Themes: Racism and Equal Rights, Abandonment and Change, Faith and Religion, Identity, Gender Equity, Adventure, Travel, Loss-Recovery-Freedom


Reading Recommendations
Using the Common Core Standards for Early and Young Adult Readers

Craft and Structure:
Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text. 
* The number(s) referenced above corresponds to the number used by the Common Core Standards (www.commoncore.org)

Lesson Idea for Young Adult Readers

Please use the following elements of story table to highlight the key ideas and details from Bessie Stringfield: Tales of the Talented Tenth, True Adventures of Amazing African Americans with your students.  

To begin, ask students to choose one of the primary themes listed above.  Next, ask students to choose 5 of the most significant examples of that theme in regards to characters, settings, and plot.


As students identify each example ask them to explain their choice and list the page number, describe the images, and paraphrase the words.






















































After students complete the table ask them to write an objective summary of the story, using both images and texts from the graphic novel and their table as reference points.  


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.