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

Dream of the Butterfly Vol. 1: Rabbits on the Moon
Published by: Lion Forge
Written by: Richard Marazano
Illustrated by: Luo Yin
Format: Softcover, 7 x 9, Color, 112 pages, $12.99
ISBN9781941302392
Ages: 9-12

Review 

This graphic novel touched a unique chord for me.  I’ve read thousands of graphic novels and have a short list of those that took me by surprise.  Dream of the Butterfly is now on that list.

If someone asked me to summarize this hypnotizingly engaging graphic novel in one line I would say: If you like stories about young adult female heroines who are truly heroic and yet still uniquely human than you’ll love this graphic novel. 

When Tutu suddenly finds herself mysteriously lost and transported to a foreign world of anthropomorphic talking animals she finds herself accused of what they see as the most heinous crime of all: Being a little girl! 

From the animals’ perspectives everything about Tutu is wrong.  First, she’s a little girl.  Second, she speaks when not spoken to.  Third, she doesn’t know her place.  Repeatedly using the phrase “Comrade” in what can only be seen as a commentary on some of the pro and con political issues that surround both communism and democracy, the animals don’t understand her.  And they don’t want her there. 

But not all of them.  Some of the animals understand her situation and are willing to risk it all, for reasons that are heroically unique to them as well.  But figuring out this world does come with a price, and Tutu must decide if she and her new friends wants to pay that price.

Elements of Story

Plot: Tutu is a strong, yet self-doubting strong female heroine who finds herself transported to a mysterious world full of talking animals, and it is up to her (and some new animal friends) to figure out what she’s willing and not willing to do to get back home. 

Major Characters: Butterfly, Tutu, Teacher, Rabbits, Thief, Judge, Cat, The Flying Bandit, Orphanage Chicken Attendant, Mr. Panda

Major Settings: Mountain, School, Snowstorm, Valley, Town, Court, Vehicle, Orphanage, Factory, Bus, Streets, Ferry

Themes: Coming of Age as a Girl, Fear, Homesickness, Manners, Politics, Equality

Lesson Plan Recommendation Using the

Common Core Standards (CCS) for Young Adults

Key Ideas and Details:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.8.3
Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.

Directions for Lesson Plan

The decisions in this graphic novel are key, both for Tutu and the anthropomorphic animals she meets in the new and mysterious world she finds herself stuck in.  For that reason, teachers can ask students to choose one of two options in order to both read the graphic novel and meet the standard for reading key ideas and details in literature that emphasize decision-making and a propulsion of plot-based action in the story.

  • Identify 5 key decisions Tutu must make throughout the story in order to progress the story and its plot.  Trace Tutu’s evolution on a timeline that marks each decision point (5) and the reasons why she makes each of the selected 5 decisions.  Be sure to write at least 2-3 sentences explaining each decision and note the page number for evidence and future discussion.

Students can keep this timeline by drawing a straight line across a blank sheet of paper and marking 5 slots for the 5 identified decisions they will briefly label on the top of the timeline and describe in sentences below the timeline.

  • Identify 5 key decisions Tutu must make throughout the story in order to progress the story and its plot.  Draw the evolution of Tutu’s features as she makes each of your selected decisions (appearance, clothing, accessories, and thought/dialogue balloons changes and or growth).  Be sure to draw an arrow away from each key feature that directly relates to one of Tutu’s decisions and briefly label and explain it in a sentence or two.  Be sure to note page numbers for your choices as well.

Cici's Journal: The Adventures of a Writer-in-Training
Published by: First Second
Written by: Joris Chamblain
Afterword: Aurélie Neyret
Format: Hardcover, 160 pages, Color, $17.99
ISBN: 9781626722484
Ages: 8-12

Review

When a young girl learns that her journal is more for looking inward rather than outward she truly discovers what family and friends are truly all about. 

Teamed up with her friends Lena and Erica, Cici is inspired to start following some intriguing and mysterious people in order to figure out their secrets.  Although her journalistic efforts originally have simple and good intentions to help better understand the world and its people, Cici and her friends quickly discover that someone else’s secrets can often reveal your own deepest, darkest secrets as well. 

But Cici is just a little bit more inquisitive than her two friends when she chooses to mislead not only them, but also her family and go ahead and follow an older woman from a bus to a public library, all the while writing details in her journal.  But Cici and her inquisitive journal follow the older lady at their own peril.  At the end of the day, Cici must really reflect on how her own choices and journal have led her to figuring out more of an inner puzzle than an outward puzzle. 

Elements of Story

Plot: Cici’s journal is supposed to solve mysteries for people she observes.  Her journal, however, discovers something much more personal for Cici than for others.

Major Characters: Cici, Cici’s mom, Lena, Erica, Mrs. Flores, Michael Langer (Mr. Mysterious”), librarian, Elisabeth Ronsin, Hector Bertelon

Major Settings: Cici’s Home, Woods, Tree House, Petrified Zoo in Woods, the Café, Public Library, Old “History and Geography” Room in the Library, Mrs. Flores’ House

Themes: Coming of Age, Family, Friendship, Adventure, Imagination 

Lesson Plan Recommendation Using the

Common Core Standards (CCS) for Young Adults

Common Core Standard(s)

Reading Literature for Craft and Structure /CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.8.6
Analyze how differences in the points of view of the characters and the audience or reader (e.g., created through the use of dramatic irony) create such effects as suspense or humor.

Writing Text Types and Purposes / CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.1.B
Support claim(s) with logical reasoning and relevant evidence, using accurate, credible sources and demonstrating an understanding of the topic or text.

Directions for Lesson Plan

Since this graphic novel easily emphasizes both reading and writing because of Cici’s journalistic emphasis teachers can ask students to keep their own journal while reading; by keeping a journal students will be meeting both a reading and a writing standard (listed above). 

To begin, teachers, librarians, and/or parents can ask students to get out several sheets of paper (or a notebook) and a writing utensil.  Students can meet the reading and the writing standard by completing the following 3 steps:

  1. First, teachers can divide the graphic novel into 4-5 sections (to be read over 4-5 days) and tab each section for each student.
  2. Either in or out of class assign students to read one section per day.
  3. At the end of each section students need to write their own journal responses to the following reading questions focused on identifying, developing and comprehending various characters’ points of views: “Which 2-3 characters have strong points of view in the story?  What does each character believe?  How do you know (cite page numbers, quotations, or paraphrases)?”

 

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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.