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

Published by: JY
Written by: Svetlana Chmakova
Illustrated by: Svetlana Chmakova

ISBN: 9780316363235
Ages: 9+


In middle school, my best friend and I bullied another girl.  I remember writing the note we put in her locker that made her cry.  I remember watching the other kids laugh.  I remember not laughing.  I remember the principal.  I remember my parents’ faces.  It was the first thing I really ever got in trouble for.  Horrified at how easy it was to hurt someone else’s feelings, I swore I would always stand up to anyone (like myself at the time thirty years ago) who was acting like a bully. 

Chmakova’s Crush reminds me of just how important stories about bullying are for middle grade students, their teachers, and their families.  A good reminder for adults that bullying sometimes has its roots in middle school, Crush offers educators and students a chance to stop and reflect on what bullying is and why it really shouldn’t happen at any age. 

A character that appears in Chmakova’s earlier graphic novels, Jorge, is a solid presence both physically and mentally.  Able to hang out well with the jocks and the misfits, Jorge fits in with ease at Berrybrook Middle School.  Well, with one or two exceptions in Chmakova’s latest story.  Every time a certain girl named Jazmine comes around Jorge feels baffled and at a clear loss for words.  When the two begin to text after a party, Jorge gets bullied by some of his peers.  Hacking into his social media accounts, Jorge’s best friend and some other students violate Jorge’s privacy.  A violation of identity, privacy, and social relationships, Jorge is stunned by how far the other boys will go to humiliate him.  And on top of that, does Jazmine even really like him?  Will Jorge have enough willpower in the face of so much stress to even ask her?

A real-life lesson about bullying and personal identity, Crush asks readers to think about what it feels like to be confident one day and then, after being bullied, what it feels like to recover one’s sense of self and move forward without the downward tug of bullying’s emotional impact.

Elements of Story

Plot: Jorge usually keeps to himself.  Most people don’t bother him.  He’ll stand up for the little guy whenever he can. When he realizes he’s crushing on a girl and one of his best friends chooses another friend over him, Jorge’s world starts to change and everything starts to become unfamiliar.  In Crush, Jorge must not only confront changes in his friendships, but also in his feelings for a certain girl named Jazmine.

Major Characters: Jorge Ruiz, Olivia Hoffman, Garrett, Jazmine Duong, James, Marcus, Mrs. Ferris, Zeke, Coach Rashad, Brooke Benson

Major Settings: Berrybrook Middle School (drama room, cafeteria, hallways, gym, bleachers), Garrett’s house

Themes: Bullying and its Impacts, Friendship, Crushes

Lesson Plan Recommendation Using the Common Core Standards (CCS) for Young Adults

Common Core Standard(s)

Craft and Structure / CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.7.6
Analyze how an author develops and contrasts the points of view of different characters or narrators in a text.

Directions for Lesson Plan

Because each chapter (or course) centers on a specific patron(s) and his or her food order(s), students can use a series of 

The “Slippery Slope to Bullying Tracking Sheet” will help teachers and students keep track of how bullies impact their targets’ lives in Crush

In order to analyze how Chmakova develops the point of view of the main character who is being bullied (Jorge), students can first track the incidents at the beginning of the story that cause Jorge to start feeling awkward (minimum of 2 early incidents).

Next, students can track how Jorge feels as the incidents continue and become more deliberate and negative (minimum of 2 middle of story incidents). 

Finally, students can keep track of the moments in the story where Jorge starts to realize he is being bullied and the impact that has on his feelings about himself and his friends (minimum of 2 ending story incidents). 

INCIDENT: What happened to make Jorge feel discomfort? CHARACTERS: Who did what?   EVIDENCE: What textual/visual evidence is there to support Jorge's feelings? Pages 
















INCIDENT: What happened to make Jorge feel discomfort? CHARACTERS: Who did what?   EVIDENCE: What textual/visual evidence is there to support Jorge's feelings? Pages 
















INCIDENT: What happened to make Jorge feel discomfort? CHARACTERS: Who did what? EVIDENCE: What textual/visual evidence is there to support Jorge's feelings? Pages


















V for Vendetta
Published by: Vertigo
Written by: Alan Moore
Illustrated by: David Lloyd
ISBN: 9781401208417
Ages: 16+


After a devastating war, England has become a totalitarian state focused on informing citizens of the balance between right and wrong through a fascist dictator who refers to himself and his means of media literacy communication to the country as the voice of Fate.  The voice of Fate controls England’s communications through puppeteer men stationed in offices titled after the five senses of human perception: the Nose, the Ear, the Mouth, the Finger, and the Eyes.  The Leader’s / voice of Fate’s conceived and desired reality for post war England is shared through these men, and the citizens of England are penned in between their new realities and those of the past.

While England’s new fascist government feels like it has total control, V enters and disrupts that perception quite literally.  In response to the country’s loss of communal and individual freedoms, V meticulously plans a series of random bombings and scare tactics aimed at key government locations and key government officials.  V terrorizes the new fascist government from an underground and abandoned train station that has fallen off the government’s eagle eye view of its citizens.  With cameras rolling and recording twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty-five days a year even the top government officials own bedrooms are being watched by the Leader. 

Mysteriously teamed up with a young woman named Evey who is entangled in her own perceptions of life in the newly fascist England and the consequences that have come from the war, V’s experiences in a resettlement camp, and the experiments that were conducted on him while he was there, fuel his vendetta against the new government.  Using their own means of communication and control against them, V and Evey choose to relay their message back to the government and its public through violent methods hoping the ends can justify the means. 

Elements of Story

Plot: V aims to use England’s newly fascist government control against itself in order to remind and restore the public’s personal freedoms.

Major Characters: Evey Hammond, V, Adam Susan (the Leader), Mr. Conrad Heyer (the Eye), Helen Heyer (Conrad’s wife), Mr. Etheridge (the Ears), Mr. Eric Finch (the Nose), Mr. Derek Almond (the Finger), Rosemary Almond (Derek’s wire), Roger Dascombe (the M), Lewis Prothero (the Voice of Fate), Mr. Bishop, Dominic Stone, Goddard, Reverend Anthony Lilliman, Dennis, Norm, Bunny Etheridge, Brian, Delia Surridge, Peter Creedy, Gordon, Robert, Alistair (Ally) Harper, Rose, Valerie.

Major Settings: London, Westminster Bridge, Jordan Tower, The Shadow Gallery, Larkhill Resettlement Camp, New Scotland Yard, the Houses of Parliament, the Old Bailey, Westminster Abbey, Knightsbridge, Plaistow, Kitty Kay Keller, Gordon’s home, Evey’s old home, The Ear

Themes: Media Literacy, Alternate history, Totalitarianism, Ends versus Means, Gender, Fascism and Anarchy, Arts and Sciences

Lesson Plan Recommendation Using the Common Core Standards (CCS) for Young Adults

Common Core Standard(s), Key Ideas and Details:

Analyze how an author's choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact.

Directions for Lesson Plan

Below is a graphic organizer that tracks the Books and the Chapters that frame the story in V for Vendetta.  Thematically named, each Book and its corresponding Chapters set the stage for V’s ever-revealing vendetta-based plot. 

With V as the conductor of information, ask students to analyze V’s (or Moore and Lloyd’s) structural delivery within each Book and Chapter by Chapter, thus outlining V’s entire vendetta from beginning to end in the story. 

Download graphic organizer lesson plan HERE.



Dr. Katie Monnin is the Director of Education at Pop Culture Classroom in Denver, Colorado.  She has written dozens of articles, curricula, reviews, lesson plans, and 8 books about teaching graphic novels, animation, video games, social media and other pop culture topics in the classroom.