Ocean of Secrets
Written and Illustrated by Sophie-Chan
Format: Softcover, 5 x 7.5, 178 pages, $10.99
Full of secrets, an ocean of secrets in fact, this graphic novel is a poignant addition to any young adult classroom. Whether assigned to high school or middle school readers, Ocean of Secrets will surely intrigue young adult readers with its focus on the main character’s journey of self-discovery. Lia is both at peace and at war with herself. She seems to believe that her doomed lot as an orphan defines her. Maybe she’s right because it most certainly haunts her.
But what Lia doesn't know the reader does. This doomed lot story of a haunted orphan is at the beginning of the novel. With the book in hand, and only a few pages turned, the reader knows the story must go on. But to where? About what? Certainly, we can figure out to whom. Yet that’s the point, the to whom! With a Don Quixote flair for journeys of self-discovery, Lia is indeed an orphan who must figure out who she is.
When she is taken completely off guard by a raging storm off the Atlantic coast Lia finds herself whisked away into a surreal and mystical world of magic. Saved at sea by Albert and Moria and their magical ship Lia learns about three kingdoms and the perils that befell not only their lands, but also their people, like Albert and Moria. Can these three Kingdoms, their people, and her new friends Albert and Moria help Lia figure out who she is? Or is she destined to be haunted by her orphan-self forever?
Language Arts Elements of Story
Plot: Alone and orphaned Lia is searching for meaning in her life. On one particular day, a ruthless storm whisks her out into the Atlantic and she is saved by Moria and Albert, magical runaways from a far-off kingdom.
Major Characters: Captain Albert, Moria, Anemone, Lia, Nina, people of the 3 Kingdoms
Major Settings: Nova Scotia, Canada; Lia’s house; beach; boat; Lyronaz; the 3 Kingdoms, magic ship, ocean
Themes: Abandonment, Family, Rescue, Secrets and Mystery, Home, Magic, Identity
Lesson Plan Recommendations Using the Common Core Standards for Middle and/or High School Readers
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).**
** A Common Core Standard for High School is used because Ocean of Secrets is appropriate for both high school and middle school (both of which are covered in the standard above).
Lesson Idea for Middle and/or High School Readers
Directions: Because this graphic novel relies so heavily on the main character’s adventurous journey of self-discovery this lesson plan calls on students to demonstrate comprehension by outlining key ideas and details evident in the main character’s evolving identity throughout the story.
Educators can begin the lesson by giving students the Spiraled-Arrow-Journey (SAJ) visual organizer found below. The visual organizer is helpful to begin the lesson because students need to know what they are looking for while they read.
On their SAJ students should be able to:
Next to each “X” write a few sentences to explain the chosen development point and its significance to the story
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.