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

A Piggy's Tale: The Adventures of a 3-Legged Super-Pup! 
Published by: Bohemian Press
Format: 7 x 10, Color, 96 pages, $14.99


I proudly start this review with the following statement: I met Piggy in person. Without a plan to walk into New York City Comic Con this past October I had three hours before my first panel and figured I’d look around to see if I could find any new gem-graphic novels I might want to ask Diamond if I could review. My first find was my best find: Piggy.

A 3-legged super-pup for sure, Piggy immediately stole my heart.

We even took a photo together. I mean, what comic con geek and devoted dog lover doesn’t want her picture taken with a rescued three-legged dog turned graphic novel superhero?  Here we are with one of Piggy’s graphic novel creators: 

So, what’s Piggy’s story?  After hurting his leg in Latin America and having it amputated, Piggy moved to the United States to find out that his loss was really his gain. Or better said, our gain!

In his debut graphic novel Piggy finds out just exactly what his gain has been. He has superpowers!  In fact, his superpowers and super attitude are so strong he finds himself the protector of all animals in New York City. Paired up with a young girl who has a unique knack for talking to animals Piggy’s adventures are inspiring for any aged reader.

In fact, Piggy’s story is so powerfully moving he has a real-life superhero job as well. Traveling the country and making personal visits, Piggy reaches out to people with diverse needs and inspires them to live the life of their own, unique superhero dreams.

If you want to learn more about Piggy, his superhero graphic novel adventures, and his real-life superhero job (or shall I say pleasure?) of visiting and inspiring people with unique needs around the world you can go to: http://www.piggytale.com.

Elements of Story

Plot: After an accident takes his leg, Piggy discovers he has super powers. Using his newfound ability to sense others’ suffering and fly Piggy and two unlikely friends band together to save other animals in trouble, eventually leading them to the most evil man in town.

Major Characters: Piggy, Porcum (Porcilis) Nobilis, Simon, Melanie, Dr. Huntington, Magee, Faydra

Major Settings: Streets of New York City, Piggy’s home, Ocean, Dr. Huntington’s lab

Themes: Empathy, Adventure, Friendship, Good versus Evil

Lesson Plan Recommendations Using the Common Core Standards

for Middle and High School Readers

Common Core Standard(s) 

Reading: Key Ideas and Details

Analyze the impact of the author's choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).

Writing: Text Types and Purposes:

Use words, phrases, and clauses as well as varied syntax to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships between claim(s) and reasons, between reasons and evidence, and between claim(s) and counterclaims.

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

* A Common Core Standard for High School is used because A Piggy’s Tale is appropriate for both high school and middle school (both of which are covered in the standard above)

Directions for Lesson Idea for Middle School and/or High School Readers 

Directions: The following graphic organizer can be used to follow the pinpoint development of Piggy’s perspective and identity as a superhero throughout his debut graphic novel. Students can use each of the balloons and circular spaces to:

  1. First, identify the best quotes (balloons) and images (circular spaces) that support Piggy and his identity as a superhero in the story (with a limit of 5 quotations and 5 images).
  2. Second, summarize the main ideas gathered from Piggy’s quotations and images by writing a review of Piggy’s debut graphic novel for future readers.
For a copy of the graphic organizer that accompanies this lesson plan, click here.

Encyclopedia of Black Comics
Published by: Fulcrum Publishing
Written by: Sheena C. Howard
Afterword: Christopher Priest
Foreword: Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Format: 6 x 8, 280 pages, $23.95
ISBN: 9781682751015


With the publication the Encyclopedia of Black Comics Eisner award-winning creator Sheena C. Howard brings the world one of the best comic book resources of the past few decades! 

Honoring a diverse array of black contributions to the field of comics the Encyclopedia of Black Comics welcomingly schools its readers on how various publishers, writers, artists, letterers, inkers, editors, historians and more have influenced the overall world of black comics. 

For me, it’s the best reference for black comics on the market.  Ever. 

As a scholar of comics and graphic novels this work suggests not only a much-needed scholarly addition to the resources available for 21st century readers who wish to learn more about the diversity that has not always been evident in comics, but also a culturally and timely literary addition to the current cultural rhetoric on politics and social justice in a democratic United States that needs to better understand the contributions of diverse people to the arts.

With an Afterword by well-known and acclaimed comics creator Christopher Priest and a Foreword by Henry Louis Gates Jr. the balance between a literary nod and a scholarly nod is perfectly pitched and, in my opinion, destined to make a grand impact on both comic readership and studies.  

Lesson Plan Recommendations Using the Common Core Standards

for Middle and High School Readers

Reading: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to address a question or solve a problem.

Writing: Text Types and Purposes

Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

Introduce precise, knowledgeable claim(s), establish the significance of the claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that logically sequences claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.

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

* A Common Core Standard for High School is used because the Encyclopedia of Black Comics is an appropriate resource for both high school and middle school readers (both of which are covered in the standard above).  

Lesson Idea for Middle School and/or High School Readers

Directions: Because the informational text standard stresses answering a question to solve a problem the guiding inquiry for students in this lesson is as follows:

“After conducting some research on black comics and referencing the Encyclopedia of Black Comics, in what ways does the Encyclopedia of Black Comics enhance your understanding of the contributions of black comics?”

To answer this question students must work through two steps.

  1. Conduct some initial or ongoing research on black comics.

  2. To meet the writing standard listed above as well, ask students to next read the Foreword, Afterword, and consult at least 3 entries in the Encyclopedia of Black Comics.  After doing so, students can answer the guiding inquiry in a five-paragraph essay.


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.