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

They Changed the World: Edison-Tesla-BellThey Changed the World: Edison-Tesla-Bell
Written by: Lewis Helfand
Illustrated by: Naresh Kumar
Publisher: Campfire
Format: Softcover, 10 x 6.5, 96 pages, Full Color, $12.99
ISBN: 978-9-38074-187-1

Review
Honestly, biographies are sometimes not my first choice of reading material. Since I was a child I simply felt like they were just too overloaded with facts, figures, dates, names, situations, conflicts, meetings, coincidences, disagreements, and the list goes on. In short, I felt overwhelmed by biographies.

That is NOT the case with Campfire's new biographical graphic novel entitled They Changed the World: Edison, Tesla, Bell. Admittedly, I opened the first page thinking, Um. Ok. I haven't reviewed a biography in awhile. I guess so. Also admittedly, I was completely wrong in my forethoughts about this specific biography. I loved it! And I learned so much information about Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and Nikola Tesla that I never, ever learned in school, or, for that matter, any other biography about them. From one page to the next page this graphic novel does not read like a traditional biography. It reads more like a novella about each individual and his amazing determination and courage to pursue the greatest inventions of his day. And each of those days were pretty much shared, for all three men grew up, matured and invented during the very same time period in history. While Edison saw Bell and Tesla as competitors out to steal his brilliant ideas, Bell and Tesla were more concerned with simply improving everyday life with their ideas. In other words, being from a state Edison once called home my schema was to see him as an American icon; after learning more about the man, however, I can now only respect his contributions.  

Hmmm . . . I guess you'll just have to read this well-written and thoughtfully illustrated graphic novel to form your own opinions on each of these fascinating men because I guarantee you'll not only be engaged, but also surprised.

Elements of Story

Plot: The lives and inventions of Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and Nikola Tesla

Key Characters: Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Nikola Tesla

Themes: Individuality, Family, Dedication, Ideas and Inventions, Perseverance


Recommended Common Core Standards

Key Ideas and Details
1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

2. Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

3. Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
Lesson Plan

Directions: Below students will find an information bank. Below the information bank students will next find a three-column list with each inventor's name above one of the columns.  

As students read this graphic novel ask them to locate the details found in the information bank and place each of those details under the correct inventor to which it belongs. 

Helped with a flour mill invention as a child

Worked on a train as teenager

Was a perfectionist piano player

2 of his brothers died of tuberculosis

Jumped off a barn trying to fly as a child

His father hid candles to try to stop him from reading at nighttime

His mother had significant hearing loss

Saved a young boy's life as a teenager (from getting hit by a train)

As a child asked too many questions and his teachers thought him unintelligent

So smart his teachers thought he was cheating

Attended the Chicago World Fair

Greatly intrigued by Niagra Falls

Invented electric vote recorder

His daughter often brought him a bagged lunch while he worked

Contracted Cholera and was bedridden for nine months

Invented the first early motion picture camera

Worked on and invented the safe use of alternating electric currents

Taught deaf children and married a deaf woman

Invented electric light bulb

Invented the telephone

 

Thomas Edison

Alexander Graham Bell

Nikola Tesla

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Amulet Book Six: Escape from LucienAmulet Book Six: Escape from Lucien
Written by: Kazu Kibuishi
Illustrated by: Kazu Kibuishi
Publisher: Graphix
Format: Softcover, 6 x 9, 256 pages, Full Color, $12.99
ISBN: 978-0-54543-315-0

Review

First things first: Kazu Kibuishi's Amulet series is ten times better than Harry Potter. It belongs in every school, every home, and most certainly deserves its own theme park.

If you regularly read this column you are probably accustomed to my writing style; I try to write honestly about my own take on each graphic novel. I also try to write with both kids and educators (including parents) at the forefront of my mind. This month is no exception.  

As I write this review for Amulet 6 I am sitting in a little cafe inside of Universal Studios in Orlando, FL with my family. Sure I've had a great day. Picture this: since my significant other cannot ride roller coasters and things of that nature it's my job to be the Peter Pan adult with the kids. Total win for me, right? The kids and I have a special time together, and it's full of an enormous amount of thrilling fun.  

This afternoon, however, my significant other is taking her turn with the kids in the kiddie play land (she can handle Curious George's ball pit, especially when it comes to waving from outside the ropes). "Why?" you may ask.

On the car ride to Universal I was fortunate enough to have an advanced copy of Amulet 6 to read. As much as I too wanted to actually be in the ball pit and wave back at her I couldn't put off writing this review any longer. Even while at one of the most exciting places on the planet I couldn't wait one second longer to tell Diamond BookShelf readers about the page-turning, brilliant writing and illustrations found within the pages of Kazu Kibuishi's new Amulet Book Six: Escape from Lucien.  

For new readers: If you have yet to have the pleasure of reading Kibuishi's Amulet series you can easily start with book six, for every single graphic novel in the series is so well done it not only tells an ongoing, epic tale, but also stands alone.

For Kibuishi's legions of fans: Book six is completely worth the wait! If you're like me you've been licking your chops just to get your hands on a copy.  Well, wait no longer and feel free to raise your anticipation needle into the red, and all the way off the charts. If there were a title for the area off the charts for best graphic novel ever it would be titled: "Wickedly Awesome." This is where Book 6: Escape from Lucien would find its home, perhaps even breaking the whole machine down as it tries to move further past the "Wickedly Awesome" label.  You be the judge. Feel free to email me and share your thoughts. I can't wait to hear what you think: k.monnin@unf.edu.

Ok, Dr. Monnin, please tell us something about the story. Sorry, I'm just so excited. And, trust me, I'm not only at Universal Studios sharing this with you. I'm also ignoring my 2-page to-do list of writing gigs. Really, it's that good . . .

A mature master of her powers, Emily is a trusted leader of loyal Elves, citizens from every single city and place she and her family have visited throughout the series, including Ceilis and Lucien. Younger brother Navin, however, is still in flight school and despite the rumor that he is a young prodigy in the making he himself struggles to believe the rumors. According to Navin his poor flight school test proved him right. The rumors are wrong.  

Or are they? Taking center stage in book six Navin’s epic journey receives more attention than his sister's. With the Elf King looming and ready to destroy anyone who stands against him, including a character he secretly finds out is a traitor, Navin plays perhaps the most critical role in saving everyone, both above and below ground. Will he prove up to the task? Or will he fail, just like he did his school exams?

With new characters entering the story, like my two favorites "Riva" and "General Pil," readers only have a month to wait, for this graphic novel gem releases on August 26th. If I were you I would pre-order my copy even before reading the rest of this review and lesson plan.

Elements of Story

Plot: The Elf King secretly knows that one of his moles is actually a traitor. He's pretty mad about that. And, as a result, he's ready to take over everyone and every place he can find. Stonekeeper Emily must stand as a trusted leader and representative of all people.  Emily's younger brother Navin, however, must prove himself. Can he be the key catalyst to save everyone from the Elf King's destructive and evil plans?

Characters: Emily, Navin, Emily and Navin's Mom, Max, Elf King, Logi, Aly, the Shadows, Balax, Miskit, Riva, Father Charles, Vigo, Captain Tristan, Leon, Luger, Trellis, Rico, The Voice(s), Doctor Weston, Layra, Enzo, Robert Joseph, Trisha Spring, Kronos, Silas, Sybrian, General Pil, Patrick

Settings: Lucien, The Void, Royal House of Elves, Lucien, the abyss below Lucien, Valcor, Luna Moth

Themes: Leadership, Good and Evil, Heroes and Villains, Friendship, Loyalty, Growth and Maturity

Literary Pairing Suggestions: Jeff Smith's Bone series, J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, C.S. Lewis' Narnia series


Recommended Common Core Standards*

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
7. Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually

*Even though this is a Language Arts, Reading Common Core Standard for grades 6 – 12, Amulet 6 can be read in lower grades as well. In that case, I still recommend that educators focus on the integration of knowledge and ideas in this graphic novel, especially in terms of characterization and what students read in text and see in images.


Lesson Plan:

Directions: Amulet 6 is loaded with diverse characters that make critical decisions regarding good and evil, heroes and villains. For that reason, this lesson plan will offer students a list of key characters to focus on.  Underneath each character's name students will also find the four themes just mentioned: good, evil, hero, and villain.  

As students read the graphic novel they should pay particular attention to each of these key characters. Each time they read about one of these characters they need to decide whether the character is demonstrating good, evil, hero, and/or villain tendencies. Next to however they feel the character is behaving students should list the page number and reason (BOTH TEXTUALLY AND/OR VISUALLY) why or how the character is acting good or evil, or like a hero or a villain.  


CHARACTERS AND THEMES:
INTEGRATING TEXT AND IMAGES WHILE READING A GRAPHIC NOVEL


Emily
➢ GOOD:


➢ EVIL:


➢ HERO:


➢ VILLAIN:


NAVIN
➢ GOOD:


➢ EVIL:


➢ HERO:


➢ VILLAIN:


MAX GRIFFIN
➢ GOOD:


➢ EVIL:


➢ HERO:


➢ VILLAIN:


ELF KING
➢ GOOD:


➢ EVIL:


➢ HERO:


➢ VILLAIN:


ALY
➢ GOOD:


➢ EVIL:


➢ HERO:


➢ VILLAIN:



RIVA
➢ GOOD:


➢ EVIL:


➢ HERO:


➢ VILLAIN:


ROBERT JOSEPH
➢ GOOD:


➢ EVIL:


➢ HERO:


➢ VILLAIN:


THE SHADOWS
➢ GOOD:


➢ EVIL:


➢ HERO:


➢ VILLAIN:


SILAS
➢ GOOD:


➢ EVIL:


➢ HERO:


➢ VILLAIN:


VIGO
➢ GOOD:


➢ EVIL:


➢ HERO:


➢ VILLAIN:


GENERAL PIL
➢ GOOD:


➢ EVIL:


➢ HERO:


➢ VILLAIN:



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 (2013); Teaching New Literacies in Elementary Language Arts ( in press, 2014).  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 two wiener dogs, Sam and Max.