Little Fish

Little FishLittle Fish
Written and Illustrated by: Ramsey Beyer
Publisher:Zest Books
Format: Hardcover, 5.5 x 8, 272 pages, Black and White, $15.99
ISBN: 978-1-93697-618-8


I was so completely reluctant to read this graphic novel memoir.


The back cover page just made it sound too good to be true. The last sentence especially got me onboard and excited: "Little Fish perfectly captures that time in a young person's life when the past feels abandoned, the future seems totally open, and every day is a revelation."

Wow! It's only once in awhile you get to read a book so moving and passionate. And you know what? Little Fish and its back cover absolutely delivers. Educators better prepare themselves too. From the beginning to the ending (from her life in Paw Paw, Michigan, to Baltimore, and ultimately to her current life in Philly) Beyer's graphic memoir offers numerous shout-outs to all of you excellent educators out there, a rare credit I am proud to point out.

Raised in the farm town of Paw Paw, Michigan Beyer longs for city life. Encouraged and supported by amazing parents and teachers she fulfills her dream to move to the city at 18, and the lucky city of choice . . . Baltimore, Maryland!

Educators, parents, librarians, and students will all delight in going on journeys with Ramsey, both literally and figuratively on her many, many enticing life events and thoughtful, reflective lists.

English Language Arts Elements of Story

Plots: A graphic memoir, Little Fish focuses on creator Ramsey Beyer's ever-evolving journey from a small town girl from Michigan who glorified city life in her imagination to a big city 28-year old now living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Major Characters: Ramsey, hometown Michigan friends, Mom, Dad, two sisters, two brothers, Merry, Katie, Frances, Ryan, Olivia, Katya, Nathalie, Cory, Daniel, Joey, Ben Hackett, Jenn, Dominic, Taylor, Walter

Settings: Paw Paw, Michigan; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Baltimore, Maryland

Themes: past-present-future, relationships, mystery, investigation, lists, journaling, autobiography

Reading Recommendations Using the Common Core Standards For Young Adult Readers

Craft and Structure

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.

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

Lesson Idea for Young Adult Readers:


Readers of this graphic novel need to pay close attention to craft and structure.

First, readers need to be able to identify when the narrator is making a list and when she is moving the plot along.

In the below two columns give five examples of both the narrator's lists (and page numbers) and plot development points (and page numbers). Write a brief sentence or outline a few bullet points to support your choices. 

5 Lists (and page #s)

 5 Plot Developments (and page #s)




































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.