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

Suspended in Language: Niels Bohr’s Life, Discoveries, and the Century He Shaped
Written By Jim Ottaviani
Illustrated by Leland Purvis, Roger Langridge, Jay Holser, Steve Leialoha, Linda Medley, and Jeff Parker
Published by G.T. Labs
Format: 6 x 9 in, 320 pages, Black & White
ISBN: 9780978803728

Review 

Pretty much every important historical figure of the 20th century knew his name. Most of them met him in person, or at least tried to kidnap him so they could. He had five children, was idolized by Einstein, mentored numerous Noble Prize winners, won the Noble prize himself, and so so so much more.

It’s challenging to write a summative reflection (aka: an editorial review) on Suspended in Language: Niels Bohr’s Life, Discoveries, and the Century He Shaped. There’s just so much to say. By himself Niels Bohr is a story: his family, his early years, his marriage and children, his astonishing career and the famous Copenhagen institute that goes with it. The scientific history and evolution of our knowledge about the atom still continues to grow as a result of Bohr’s work. Like Newton before him, Bohr seismically impacted the scientific world.

Suspended in Language brings every single element - every single atom - of not only Bohr’s global impact to life, but also every single element of story and content that we teach in high school Language Arts, Social Studies, Math, and Science classrooms.

Language Arts Elements of Story 

Plot: Suspended in Language addresses the scientific life and impact of Niels Bohr during the 20th century.

Major Characters: Niels Bohr, Harald Bohr, Christian Bohr and Ellen Bohr, Jenny Bohr, Max Planck, Albert Einstein, Margrethe Norlund/Bohr, Hendrik Kramer, Professor Haber, Christian Bohr Jr., Hans Bohr, Erik Bohr, Aage Bohr, Ernest Bohr, Werner Heisneberg, Arnold Sommerfield, Wolfgang Pauli, Clinton Davisson, Charles Kinsman, George Thomson, J.J. Thomson, Erwin Schrodinger, Leon Rosenfeld, Lise Meitner, Hitler and/or the Nazis, the Americans, the Soviets, Winston Churchill, FDR

Major Settings: Bohr Family Home, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Greenland, England, Copenhagen Institute for Theoretical Physics, Niels Bohr’s Home, Professor Haber’s Cottage, Solvay Conference, Aeresboug, Washington state, New Mexico, Illinois, Tennessee, New York, Washington DC

Themes: Science, Math, Mentors and Mentees, Passion, Friendship and Competition, Collaboration and Independence, Social Studies & Politics, Dedication and Passion

 

Lesson Plan Recommendations Using the

Common Core Standards for High School Readers 

Key Ideas and Details Standard:

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 High School Readers

Directions: Because it is truly a cross-content area informational text Suspended in Language deserves a cross-content area lesson plan approach. For that reason, I recommend a different type of lesson plan formulation than I have in the past for this column.

To begin, I’ve listed a general, overarching Language Arts standard that can easily complement another standard(s) from another content area(s).

With a basis in key ideas and details from the standard in Language Arts to ground the lesson plan, all content area teachers need to meet in order to plan the lesson that will emerge. In other words, this month’s column is going to suggest a preplanning stage (rather than a typical lesson plan). In the preplanning stage a representative group of content area teachers need to meet in order to plan their own unique pedagogical steps or sequences for lesson plan design, especially because to teach the scope of this graphic novel’s story means that teachers and students must explore various content-based ideological frameworks.

When the content area team meets they need to:

  • Decide which of their own content area standards will work well the Language Arts standard
  • Design a coordinated reading schedule across content areas
  • Develop content area lesson plans that coordinate with all other content areas
  • Implement the reading schedule and lesson plans across content areas
  • Finally, the team needs to decide upon an assessment that would reflect the unique student population, an understanding of each content area standard, and a finalized project to reflect comprehension of Suspended in Language and its relevancy to each of the content areas.

Camp Midnight
Written By Steven T. Seagle
Illustrated by Jason Adam Katzenstein
Published by Image Comics
Format: 5.9 x 7.9 in, 248 pages, Color
ISBN: 9781632155559

Review

There are a few key words that best describe Camp Midnight. Creative. Creepy. Hilarious. For me, the combination of these three words mean I should absolutely, without a single doubt, not only read this graphic novel, but also plan on assigning it to my students.

Resisting her “step-monsters” insistence that she go to summer camp Skye is determined to prove that camp is not for her. In fact, she plans on purposely not fitting in. At least that’s the plan . . . . Brave and witty for a young adult, huh?

Not so much. Skye boards the wrong bus and is now much worse off than she originally masterminded. Much, much, much more worse off. She quickly learns that while traveling to a spooky place called Camp Midnight she will not be able to be an outsider among peers. She’ll be an outsider among full-fledged monsters, for who else would attend a camp called Camp Midnight? With one saving grace, however, Skye actually won't be alone. Lucky for her she is befriended by the only other two humans on the Camp Midnight bus.

Together they set off to deal with full-fledged monsters at a camp perfectly named to fit the themes and tone of this graphic novel: Camp Midnight.

Language Arts Elements of Story

Plot: Skye doesn't want to go to camp. But she ends up at a camp she never could’ve predicted she wouldn't like. Camp Midnight is inhabited by monsters. With only a few human friends to relate to will Skye be able to survive her camping experience with monsters?

Major Characters: Skye, Skye’s mom, the “Step-Monster”, Gayle, Dale, Griffin, Mia, ghost bus driver, Counselor Cobb, Medusa Cabin Girls, Rina, Abcynthia, Branwyn, Lachette, campers

Major Settings: Camp Midnight, Camp Midnight bus, Skye’s mom’s home, Skye’s father’s car, Skye’s father’s house, cabins, cafeteria, Mount Skull, Forrest

Themes: Alliances, Friendship, Camp, Tradition, Identity, Fear and Courage


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)

* A Common Core Standard for High School is used because Camp Midnight 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: Ask students to pair up and read Camp Midnight together. Next, have students take on the role of either Skye or Mia. Together, each pair needs to write an original script (similar to Reader’s Theatre) that highlights the two characters’ developments throughout the text, specifically emphasizing the character at the beginning, middle, and end of the story.

When students are done they can perform their scripts for the entire class or another class, perhaps even a lower grade level or “buddy” reading class.

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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.