Written by:
MK Reed
Illustrated by:
Jonathan Hill
First Second
Format: Softcover, 6 x 9, 208 pages, Black and White, $14.99

English Language Arts Elements of Story

Plot: Neil and Danny have a favorite book series, The Adventures of Apathea Ravenchilde. But this series does indeed contain elements of mysticism and magic. When Danny's mom realizes just what her son has been reading, she immediately storms down to the public library to demand the book be taken off the shelves. When the local librarian, Charlotte, defends the book Danny's mom is furious and embarks on a crusade to save the children of Americus.

Setting: The city of Americus, OK; Danny house; Neil's house; the high school; the local library; city hall

Major Characters: Neil, Danny, Charlotte, Carol (Danny's mom), concerned parents and community members, Nancy (Neil's mom), Apathea, Devin, Lang, Amber, Emily, the Town Council, Jael

Themes: Faith, Community, Duty, Coming of Age, Good and Evil, Censorship

Traditional Literature Pairing Suggestions: Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huck Finn and/or The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Chaim Potok's The Chosen, J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, JK Rowling's Harry Potter series, Ray Bradbuary's Farenheit 451

Some Teaching Recommendations For Middle School & High School Readers

Suggested Alignment to the IRA /NCTE Standard(s):*

- standard #s correspond to the numbers used by IRA/NCTE

1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.

2. Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.

3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate and appreciate texts.

4. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.

Suggested Guided Writing Lesson Plan for Middle School or High School Teachers and Librarians:

• Plan

In order to plan for this guided writing lesson plan, teachers and librarians will need to have the following handout ready for students. This handout, entitled "Know-Wonder-Learn-Debate-Thumbs Up-Thumbs Down", will help facilitate a debating process about the key themes found in Americus.





Thumbs Up

Thumbs Down






















Coming of Age






Good and Evil













• Mini-Lesson

Give students the "Know-Wonder-Learn-Thumbs Up-Thumbs Down" handout. At the top of the handout review and discuss the directions, which read:

"Step 1: Before you read, fill out the Know and Wonder categories for each theme.

Step 2: As you read, record what you are learning about each theme.

Step 3: When you finish reading, decide how you feel about each theme. Which group of citizens are more convincing? Do you give Neil and Charlotte a thumbs up or a thumbs down on each theme? Or do you give Danny's mom and the other concerned citizens a thumbs up on that theme? Accordingly, in each column, write down the name of the characters who you either feel "thumbs up" (ultimately convinced you) or "thumbs down" (ultimately did not convince you) about.

• Read and Write

Ask students to read Americus and fill out their handout accordingly

• Conference

As students read and record their thoughts, move around the room and consult with students in small groups. What are they thinking? Why?

• Share

When the class has finished recording their thoughts ask them to discuss each theme one by one. Why did they give each theme and group of characters either a thumbs up or a thumbs down?

Katie Monnin, PhD, is an assistant professor of literacy at the University of North Florida and author of Teaching Graphic Novels: Practical Strategies for the Secondary ELA Classroom (2010) from Maupin House. To learn more about Teaching Graphic Novels or Katie Monnin, please go to this link: http://www.maupinhouse.com/monnin.php.