Courtney Crumrin And The Night Things

Courtney Crumrin Vol. 1Courtney Crumrin Vol. 1: Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things
By: Ted Naifeh
Publisher: Oni Press
Format: Hardcover, 6 x 9, 144 pages, Full Color, $19.99
ISBN: 978-1-934964-77-4

Mysteriously-mesmerizing Courtney Crumrin Vol. 1: Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things, is a hard book to put down. Every page leaves you wanting more: What could possibly happen next? Can this get more creepy and likeable at the same time?

Not necessarily an orphan because she does indeed have parents, Courtney is a lone wolf in a very curious new setting. While her parents are busy charging up their credit cards and talking on their cell phones, the family is moving into Crumrin House. And if the local urban legend has it right, that's not a place you want to live. Still occupied by a little understood and therefore gossiped about creepy older uncle, rumor has it that there are night things lingering in the hallways and tucked into corners, and of course under the bed.

While her mom and dad do not seem to notice anything, especially the Night Things and even Courtney herself, her mysterious Uncle Aloysius is Courtney’s only friend. Shunned by the rich suburban kids of Hillsborough only her Uncle is willing to shed some light on this darkest of situations.  

English Language Arts Elements of Story

Plot: Courtney Crumrin's parents need to save money. Too busy to think of any practical ways to do so, for their cell phones seem superglued to their ears, a quick and easy solution ends up being a move to Crumrin House, where they can live rent free with the town's most mysterious resident, Uncle Aloysisus Crumrin.  

Setting: Crumrin House, Hillsborough, Radley Hall, Hillsborough Junior High, Goblin Town, the Dark Market, the woods, #1 Kensington Lane, Uncle Aloysius' chambers, Oulder Mansion

Major Characters: Courtney Crumrin, Mr. and Mrs. Crumrin, Uncle and Professor Aloysius Crumrin, Cathy, Jebediah Finch, Mayor Tate, Butterworm, Augustus Oulder, Alicia, Gareth Rosser, Gareth Rosser Junior

Themes: Fact and Fiction, Family, Individualism, Mystery, Bullying, Trust

Traditional and Contemporary Literary Pairing Suggestions: Jeff Smith's Bone series, S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders, Kazu Kibuishi's Amulet series, Louis Sachar's Holes, Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado's Giants Beware!, Doug TenNapel's Cardboard, Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Some Teaching Recommendations For Middle and High School Readers

Suggested Alignment to the Common Core Standards:*
*Standard numbers correspond to the literal common core standards numbers, www.commoncorestandards.com

Craft and Structure
4. Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
5. Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.
6. Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.

Lesson Idea for Fifth Grade Readers and Above:

Directions: Because this graphic novel is such a page-turner a carousel activity will prove to be very thought-provoking.  

For this carousel activity, there will be four categories: characters, settings, plot(s), and themes.
Located at various stations (such as the four corners of the room) teachers can post a large piece of paper or poster board that cites one of the four categories.  Teachers will also want to leave a few writing utensils at each poster board cite.

Before reading Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things, ask students to get into small groups. Ideally, there would be four group; for larger classes, however, teachers may have multiple groups at the same categorical poster board at a time.  

Once students are in small groups ask them to leaf through the pages and to make predictions about what they think might happen. Following this before reading meeting (about 15 minutes) ask the small groups to report to one of the four poster board categories. While at each station, and rotating counterclockwise, ask the groups to write down their predictions about each category. Students will visit all four poster boards, spending about 10 minutes at each station.

When finished ask students to return to their groups original location and, as a class, discuss the predictions now found on each poster board.

With all of these predictions in mind, students can then read the graphic novel (either in small groups or as individuals).  

When they are done reading the entire graphic novel ask them to return to their groups and once again complete the carousel process. This time, students will be able to discuss and write down what happened in the graphic novel verse their predictions. Finally, when students are finished, engage the class in another classroom discussion of what they wrote on each categorical poster board.

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.