Spera Volume 2

Spera Vol. 2Spera Volume 2
Written by: Josh Tierney
Individual chapters illustrated by: Giannis Milonogiannis, Kyla Vanderklugt, Afu Chan, and Timothy Weaver
Publisher: BOOM! Studios/Archaia Entertainment
Format: Hardcover, 7 x 11, 168 pages, Full Color, $24.95
ISBN: 978-1-93639-376-3

I've always believed that the best recommender of a good book is a student. Unlike us ("so-called adults"), when students open up a book and find it lacking they stop reading. Students don't force themselves to read something because feel obliged to do so. They have yet to enter the time in life when it seems like if you start something - no matter how bad it is - you must finish it. Students are genuine, raw readers looking for quality and not quantity.  

The day before I left to go San Diego, California to be an Eisner judge this year one of my students recommended that I read Spera. This particular student, we can call her "Mary" if you like (Mary, is that ok with you?) planted a seed-like recommendation that was about to become the brightest star of my Eisner judging experience.  

I recognized the title when I saw it in the judge's room in San Diego. "Hmmm... interesting," I thought. "That's either coincidental or a sign. I better read this." From the first page to the last, I felt like I accidentally found a secret, magical gem in an enchanted forest. With thousands of books to read in the judge's room, I couldn't put Spera down. It was the most impressive gem in a room full of precious treasures.  

Focused on the story of two princesses set out to redefine what it means (and should always have meant!) to be a strong and powerful leader, Princesses Pira and Lono will take readers on a unique journey that, in my estimation, will redefine the fairy tale genre for 21st century readers. Neither of them are passively waiting to be kissed by a prince, nor are they hoping for a glass slipper that might fit.  

These princesses are strong, bold, and courageous, and paired up with their two clever sidekicks (Yonder, a man who can morph into a wolf, and an intellectually curious cat named Chobo) they are about to take a new generation of readers on a journey not yet explored.

English Language Arts Elements of Story

Plot: Princesses Pira and Lono are the type of princesses the 21st century deserve. Independent and unique, the two princesses are head to the big city where they must confront strange laws, and even stranger men and monsters.  On top of that, they must join the city's prestigious Adventurers Guild. Will they earn access to the Guild?  And even if they are considered will the powerful Rale let them in?

Accompanied by their two companions and teammates Yonder, a fire spirit, and Chobo, a warrior cat, the two girls must prove to be more than just ordinary princesses.  They must be the 21st century princesses contemporary literature has been waiting to discover.

Setting: Kotequog

Major Characters: Princess Pira, Princess Lono, Yonder, Chobo, the members of the Adventurer's Guild, Rale

Themes: Individualism and Teamwork, Myth and Legend, Contemporary Storytelling and Traditional Storytelling, Acceptance and Rejection, Relationships

Traditional and Contemporary Literary Pairing Suggestions: Jeff Smith's Bone series, S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders, Kazu Kibuishi's Amulet series, any version of Cinderella, Snow White, and/or Sleeping Beauty, Grimm's Fairy Tales, Aesop's Fables, Jane Austen's Emma and/or Pride and Prejudice, Toni Morrison's Sula, Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, Kate Chopin's The Awakening

Some Teaching Recommendations For Middle School Readers

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

Text Types and Purposes*
2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

After Reading Writing Lesson Idea for Middle School Readers of Spera Volume II:
In order to assess whether or not students comprehend this story a writing lesson plan might be a good idea.  In the format of a timeline, ask students to work individually (for about 20 minutes), focusing on what they see as the ten most important and/or significant events in the story.

Students can use the below timeline to chronologically place each of their selected important events in the correct order.  Students should also provide short rationales for each of their timeline selections (two or three sentences per event).

When students finish their timeline ask them to review their choices and rationales and work through a TPS literacy strategy.

1. First students will review their own choices and Think about each of their selections and rationales.
2. Next, students can find a peer and take turns sharing their timeline selections and rationales (each student will have 10 minutes).
3. Finally, ask for volunteer peer groups to come to the front of the room and share their various timeline selections and rationales.  

Note: When students are done sharing, please encourage the class to ask questions and point out where they (and their timelines) agreed or disagreed with the timelines and rationales just discussed. This will help foster critical discussion and further comprehension of the story.


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.