A Matter Of Life

A Matter of LifeA Matter of Life
Written by:
Jeffrey Brown
Illustrated by: Jeffrey Brown
Publisher: IDW Publishing/Top Shelf Productions
Format: Hardcover, 5.25 x 8, 96 pages, Full Color, $14.95
ISBN: 978-1-60309-266-1

Bottom line: The title of this graphic novel is perfect. It's A Matter of Life.  

Growing up at the same time as Jeffrey I too dreamt of becoming a writer or an artist. I too loved Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, and I was certainly in awe of my dad's awesomeness. I wanted to grow up and be just as awesome.  

On a self-reflective note, I do know Jeffrey from a few interviews and reviews I have written about his other books; but I have never met him in person.  Reading A Matter of Life made me not only want to meet him even more so in person, but also inspired me to reflect on my own life journey and now grownup epiphanies about all my father had taught me about life.

A Matter of Life is so well written and so well illustrated every reader who comes to it is bound to reflect on his or her life. In many ways it reminded me of reading Dr. Seuss' Oh, the Places You'll Go, but this time in graphic novel format and for an older, more mature audience.

Brown's spiritual and personally reflective journey in A Matter of Life invites readers to take two reading journeys, one based in Jeffrey's matter of fact, mesmerizing own life story, and another that naturally lifts itself up off the page to invite the reader to take his or her own personally reflective journey.  

Unique and inspiring in its ability to gently and authentically offer the reader two separate but equal reading journeys I would recommend that every teacher, librarian, and/or parent of a young adult or teenager take a look at – and share – this soon to be legendary graphic novel memoir.  

English Language Arts Elements of Story

Plots: What is life all about? When you come from a very spiritual family life can be very uplifting and full of passionate beliefs. Sometimes, however, as you grow older those beliefs come under scrutiny. Jeffrey Brown's A Matter of Life examines his own spiritual journey as influenced primarily by both his father and his son.  

Characters: Jeffrey, Jeffrey's family, Jeffrey's Sunday school class, Jeffrey's classmates, Jeffrey's wife, Oscar, friends of the family

Settings: Michigan, camp, church, family home as a child and his home as an adult

Themes: Family, Growing Up and Maturation, Relationships, Passion, Reflection and Realization

Reading Recommendations Using the Common Core Standards For Young Adult and Teenage Readers

Key Ideas and Details*
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3 Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.

* The number referenced above corresponds to the number used by the Common Core Standards (www.commoncore.org)

Lesson Idea for Young Adult and Teenage Readers:

Directions: Since this graphic novel is an autobiographical memoir its author, Jeffrey Brown, is a very complex character, especially since we follow him from childhood, to adulthood, and early parenthood. Well-written autobiographical memoirs also portray the other characters and all of their complexities as well. In the graphic organizer below (one is example is setup for you, Jeffrey Brown himself) choose 4 more characters (5 total).

In the second column following the character's names, list details about each character's life. In the third column, list your own reflective thoughts on how you think this character develops throughout the course of Brown's graphic novel memoir.
























































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.