Ages 9+ | Cici's Journal: The Adventures of a Writer-in-Training (First Second)

Cici's Journal: The Adventures of a Writer-in-Training
Publisher: First Second
Written by: Joris Chamblain
Illustrated by: Aurélie Neyret
Format: Hardcover, 160 pages, $17.99
ISBN: 9781626722484
Ages 8+


When a young girl learns that her journal is more for looking inward rather than outward she truly discovers what family and friends are truly all about. 

Teamed up with her friends Lena and Erica, Cici is inspired to start following some intriguing and mysterious people in order to figure out their secrets.  Although her journalistic efforts originally have simple and good intentions to help better understand the world and its people, Cici and her friends quickly discover that someone else’s secrets can often reveal your own deepest, darkest secrets as well. 

But Cici is just a little bit more inquisitive than her two friends when she chooses to mislead not only them, but also her family and go ahead and follow an older woman from a bus to a public library, all the while writing details in her journal.  But Cici and her inquisitive journal follow the older lady at their own peril.  At the end of the day, Cici must really reflect on how her own choices and journal have led her to figuring out more of an inner puzzle than an outward puzzle.

Language Arts Elements of Story

Plot: Cici’s journal is supposed to solve mysteries for people she observes.  Her journal, however, discovers something much more personal for Cici than for others.

Major Characters: Cici, Cici’s mom, Lena, Erica, Mrs. Flores, Michael Langer (Mr. Mysterious”), librarian, Elisabeth Ronsin, Hector Bertelon

Major Settings: Cici’s Home, Woods, Tree House, Petrified Zoo in Woods, the Café, Public Library, Old “History and Geography” Room in the Library, Mrs. Flores’ House

Themes: Coming of Age, Family, Friendship, Adventure, Imagination

Lesson Plan Recommendations Using the Common Core Standards for Young Adult Readers

Common Core Standard(s)

Reading Literature for Craft and Structure /CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.8.6
Analyze how differences in the points of view of the characters and the audience or reader (e.g., created through the use of dramatic irony) create such effects as suspense or humor.

Writing Text Types and Purposes / CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.1.B
Support claim(s) with logical reasoning and relevant evidence, using accurate, credible sources and demonstrating an understanding of the topic or text.

Lesson Idea for Young Adult Readers

Directions: Since this graphic novel easily emphasizes both reading and writing because of Cici’s journalistic emphasis teachers can ask students to keep their own journal while reading; by keeping a journal students will be meeting both a reading and a writing standard (listed above). 

To begin, teachers, librarians, and/or parents can ask students to get out several sheets of paper (or a notebook) and a writing utensil.  Students can meet the reading and the writing standard by completing the following 3 steps:

  1. First, teachers can divide the graphic novel into 4-5 sections (to be read over 4-5 days) and tab each section for each student.
  2. Either in or out of class assign students to read one section per day.

At the end of each section students need to write their own journal responses to the following reading questions focused on identifying, developing and comprehending various characters’ points of views:

Which 2-3 characters have strong points of view in the story? 

What does each character believe? 

How do you know (cite page numbers, quotations, or paraphrases)?



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 (2014); Teaching New Literacies in Elementary Language Arts (2015). 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 three wiener dogs, Samantha, Max, and Alex Morgan Monnin.