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

One Week in the Library
Written by W. Maxwell Prince
Illustrated by John Amor
Publisher: Image Comics
Format: Softcover, 6.4 x 10, 96 pages, $9.99
ISBN9781534300224

Review 

“It’s usually very difficult to find a specific volume amid this latticework of convergences.  But there it is.  The book.  Once open, its pages begin to speak; they beg to be turned.”

What would you do if you were stuck in a library, for life? 

The main character in W. Maxwell Prince’s One Week in the Library is indeed stuck in a library.  Struggling to create a balance between the books he loves and the life he really leads, the Librarians’ reading habits conjure up many new and recognizable characters.  From characters in Alice in Wonderland to a man who is simply identified as “the man with the gouged eyes” this graphic novel is sure to introduce you to some interesting personalities and each of their own lost and longing searches for their place in the world of fiction.  Or so the Librarian first thinks.

While helping his literary character-friends the Librarian must also face himself and his own character.  Over the course of a week will his helpful nature benefit both his literary-friends, and, to his surprise, himself?

Told in both narrative, poetic verse, and prose this graphic novel is original and thought provoking.  Aimed at more mature high school readers and their educators, One Week in the Library is a refreshing reminder of the power of words to work together with images in order to tell a new fictional story in a much more visually-oriented 21st century climate.  

Language Arts Elements of Story 

Plot: Stuck in his library, a librarian’s day-to-day week is chronicled to the point of blending reality and fantasy in ways that question just how much fiction mirrors real life.

Major Characters: the Librarian, the man with the gouged eyes and his daughters, Freddy Flotsam, Belfry, Lonely Miss Marionette, Grim Reggie, the three little bears, Marigold, Gary, Gary’s Grandmother, Gary’s ghost, the flies, the bird, the spider, the farmer and his wife, Allen Castrovich, David Tumnus, Mr. Hadder, Mr. Pillar, Bob, Larry, Robots, Jesus, Book Man, W. Maxwell Prince

Major Settings: Library, the home of the man with the gouged eyes, Pleasure Island, docks, ocean, Marigold’s home, Gary’s home, Farmhouse, Office Building, Brooklyn

Themes: Fantasy, Reality, Reading and Learning, Life and Fiction, the Writing Process, Time, Reflection

* Before assigning, educators should consult this graphic novel for mature subject matter that may or may not be suitable for their student population.

 

Lesson Plan Recommendations Using the

Common Core Standards for High School Readers 

Key Ideas and Details Standard:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.11-12.2

Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; 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 High School Readers

Directions: The following Guided Reading activity calls on students to focus on themes.  There are three steps to Guided Reading: Before Reading, During Reading, and After Reading.

  1. Before Reading: Before students read have them select a theme.  You will most likely have to write each theme two or three times on a small piece of paper in order to make sure each student has a theme.  Ask students to blindly choose a theme from a container.  Next, tell them that their selected theme is their topic while reading this graphic novel.
  2. During Reading: While students read ask them to keep notes on how and when (two columns on a piece of paper if you would like to structure their process) they think their theme is most evident in the graphic novel. 
  3. After Reading: When they are done reading students need to write a two-three page reflection essay documenting how and when their theme appeared in the story.  If needed, this culminating activity can serve as an assessment tool.
     


Light
Written by Rob Cham
Illustrated by Rob Cham
Publisher: Magnetic Press
Format: Hardcover, 7.1 by 7.2, 108 pages, $19.99
ISBN9781942367277

 

Review

Light is the best silent graphic novel I have read.  Ever.  Poignant, thoughtful, and chalked full of all of the elements we teach in young adult Language Arts settings Light is one of my top choices for some upcoming awards this year. 

Without a single word, yet packed full of action and adventure, readers of Light will feel like a third adventurer alongside the graphic novel’s two main characters.  As they trek through forests, explore caves, and meet a host of villainous characters who guard the very items they seek to find, the two adventurers’ journey through a new, thoughtfully illustrated quest destined to appeal to readers of all-ages. 

Although short, this epic journey is never going to leave my thoughts.  Why?  It’s amazingly illustrated; in fact, the images are so capturing and picturesque Cham doesn't need to use words, for his illustrations are so perfect they pop off the page and generate all of the words you would ever need to fall into this story and recommend it to everyone you know.  With images alone, Cham has created another world and a new adventure that, I would predict, is going to catch the attention of new fans, the media, TV and film animators, and many, many more. 

Language Arts Elements of Story

Plot: Two adventurers set out on an epic silent graphic novel quest to find five magical gems.  On their journey they must first find and then defeat the guardian of each gem.  Traveling through treacherous caves and way-too-fast waterways, the two adventurers face and ultimately solve each obstacle with wit and creativity. 

Major Characters: the Light, the Dark, First Adventurer, Second Adventurer, Gem Guardian #1, Gem Guardian #2, Gem Guardian #3, Gem Guardian #4, Gem Guardian #5, Tall and Grey Characters

Major Settings: First Adventurer’s Home, Black and White Forrest, Color Forrest, Cave, Cave Water, Tree Stump, Mountains, Planet

Themes: Action and Adventure, Searching, Quests and Journeys, Problem-solving, Friendship


Lesson Plan Recommendations Using the Common Core Standards

for Middle and High School Readers

Key Ideas and Details:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.11-12.3

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).

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

Lesson Idea for Middle and High School Readers

 Directions: Because high school and middle school students have been traditionally conditioned to read with words this graphic novel’s use of images and/or art to tell the story is key to comprehension.  Educators can gauge comprehension by asking students to recreate the images that they feel best told the main ideas in this silent graphic novel. 

To begin, educators can ask students to take two pieces of paper and fold them in half.  Next, educators can ask students to fold the paper in half again.  After folding twice, the paper is now divided into eight blocks; in graphic novel terms, we can see these eight blocks as eight panels.  Each of Cham’s pages are graphic novel panels by definition, the space in which a piece of the story takes place. 

Limiting students to eight, ask students to work in small groups to identify what they think are the top 6 - 8 panels or pages that best tell the story.  After they identify their choices students will need to recreate those pages/panels and also be able to explain their choices to the entire class.  On the back of each of their pages/panels students need to write a two - three sentence explaining their choices, asking themselves: “Why did we identify this panel?  What is its major, overall significance to the story?”

Finally, the entire class can share their selections and rationales with each other.  

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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.