Thursday, November 29, 2007


Paul D. Storrie
INKS: Ron Randall
COLORS: Hi-Fi Colour Design
LETTERING: Bill Hauser
PUBLISHER: Graphic Universe (Lerner Publishing)
GENRE: Traditional Literature

FORMAT: Hardback
PAGES: 48 pages
COLOR: Full color
ISBN-10: 0-8225-6757-1
ISBN-13: 978-0-8225-6757-8

Warrior, hero and King: Beowulf was all three to the people known as the Geats. Beowulf, hearing of King Hrothgar’s troubles, comes to the King of the Danes to rid him of the monster, Grendel, who kills the humans in the mead hall every nightfall. He lays in wait for Grendel – minus his mail, sword and shield – and attacks the beast bare handed, tearing off his arm.

Grendel flees to his mother’s lair to die. In her rage, his monstrous mother comes to the mead hall to enact her revenge, kidnapping and killing one warrior. So Beowulf goes to the lair beneath the rancid waters and swims to her den. There he takes a sword of the giants and kills her, beheads the dead Grendel, then leaves.

Beowulf was rewarded for his great deeds and eventually became the King of the Geats. In his twilight years, a dragon sought revenge on the people because a servant stole a golden cup from the dragon’s hoard. So Beowulf donned his sword and, armed with a new shield specially designed to withstand the dragon’s fire, Beowulf went to destroy the beast.

On that battlefield, Beowulf declared war on the worm and there they fought. His fearful men retreated save one, but Beowulf was fatally wounded. After the dragon was destroyed, Beowulf gave his possessions and kingdom to Wigluf, his faithful warrior, and was then burned in a funeral pyre and his remains buried in a barrow for all to see. Such is the story of the great Beowulf.

This is the BEOWULF title to use for elementary children, plain and simple. It tells the tale of BEOWULF but does so in such a way that does not talk down to students and is still appropriate for them. I have read and reviewed other BEOWULF adaptations and this version stands as tall as the others. The only difference that I noticed is that in this version BEOWULF swims directly to the she-beast’s lair without incident or intervention.

The language is modern but still maintains a hint of antiquity in both vocabulary and grammatical structure – just enough to add flavor to the story but not derail young readers. The illustrations are artfully crafted to depict the story with very little bloodshed being shown, which is significantly different than some other versions. This reflects the intended audience of the book: students in public schools.

As is common with the Graphic Universe series, the colors are bright and vibrant. The illustrations are rendered in a realistic style, which is typical of American comics. There are details in both the foreground and background as well with the characters.

My Rating: Ages 9 and older
Publisher’s Rating: Ages 9-14
Publisher’s Reading Level: Grade 4
Publisher’s Interest Level: Grades 4-8

ATOS: 4.3
Lexile: Not rated at time of publication

To teach traditional literature in a classroom, one simply need open this graphic novel. Kids will be interested and engaged. In fact, many students will be eager to write their own action-adventure-fantasy stories after reading BEOWULF. There is so much a person could do with this text, including discussions on Scandinavian cultures and the influence of the culture on European (and American) culture. Certainly the hero mythology could be deeply explored using both traditional and modern heroes. Students could also come up with their own hero stories.

The good people from Lerner Publishing have included all kinds of goodies at the end of the book. They offer a glossary, pronunciation guide, information for further reading (text and Internet), and a brief description on the creation of this adaptation.

Other titles in the Graphic Myths and Legends series include:
  1. Amaterasu: Return of the Sun
  2. Arthur & Lancelot: The Fight for Camelot
  3. Atalanta: The Race Against Destiny
  4. Demeter & Persephone: Spring Held Hostage
  5. Hercules: The Twelve Labors
  6. Isis & Osiris: To the Ends of the Earth
  7. Jason: Quest for the Golden Fleece
  8. King Arthur: Excalibur Unsheathed
  9. Odysseus: Escaping Poseidon’s Curse
  10. Robin Hood: Outlaw of Sherwood Forest
  11. Sinbad: Sailing into Peril
  12. Theseus: Battling the Minotaur
  13. Thor & Loki: In the Land of Giants
  14. The Trojan Horse: The Fall of Troy
  15. Yu the Great: Conquering the Flood (reviewed by TGC)

Highly Recommended
I think this particular version of BEOWULF is the best choice for an elementary classroom. Depending on the school and the community, it may be the best choice for middle school as well. The story is accurate to the original text and is still very accessible to students and appropriate for the classroom.


You nonfiction lovers out there will be thrilled to see what has come into the classroom this week. Everything poured in: biography, history, science, minority culture, and pop culture. Interestingly enough along with these nonfiction books came two DVDs which coincide with two titles. They are so impressive that I have contacted Capstone Press about the intereactive CDs and have set up an interview. By the first week of January, expect a great story on how you can bring graphic novels and technology into your classroom in an exciting and engaging way.

If that was not enough, guess what else hit the shelves this week? Only a graphic anthology adaptation of my all time favorite writer, Mark Twain. I’m giddy with anticipation.

In other news, this is the last week for the Beowulf adaptations. This one is for elementary students. Next week we will explore some less heavy literature. Here’s the list of books for this week:

Graphic Classics: Mark Twain

Adventures in Sound with Max Axiom Super Scientist (Interactive CD)
The Explosive World of Volcanoes with Max Axiom Super Scientist
The Shocking World of Electricity with Max Axiom (Comic & CD)
Understanding Global Warming with Max Axiom Super Scientist

John F. Kennedy: American Visionary
Muhammad Ali: American Champion

1918 Flu Pandemic
The Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire

Isaac Newton and the Laws of Motion
The Z-Boys and Skateboarding

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

BEOWULF (Petrucha Version)

Stefen Petrucha
ILLUSTRATOR: Kody Chamberlain
COLORS: Scott A. Keating
LETTERER: Kel Nuttall
PUBLISHER: Harper Trophy
GENRE: Traditional Literature
FORMAT: Trade Paperback
PAGES: 96 pages
COLOR: Full color
ISBN-10: 0-06-134390-0
ISBN-13: 978-0-06-134390-2

This, the first epic poem ever written in English, tells the tale of the great warrior Beowulf, kinsman to King Hygelac, and his magnificent ascent to glory and eventual descent into honorable death. Beowulf sails across the sea to save King Hrothgar and his people from the terrible beast Grendel. Grendel, as all evil beasts were, is a descendent of the biblical character, Cain. He suffers at the sound of the men rejoicing in the King’s mead hall, giving thanks to God. Filled with hatred, Grendel ascends upon the great hall every evening to destroy any humans that dwell there.

Hearing of King Hrothgar’s horror, Beowulf and his men sail across the sea to rid the King of his thorn. Beowulf greets Grendel in the great hall sans his sword and shield prepared for glory and death. Beowulf does not attack. Rather, he holds fast and wears the beast down eventually snapping his arm off at the shoulder. Grendel retreated to his mother’s lair to die and Beowulf hung the arm on the hall entrance as a reminder of the deed done.

Word spread of Beowulf’s deeds and many rejoiced. King Hrothgar showered the warrior with gifts, but Grendel’s mother sought revenge and entered the hall and spilled more blood. So Beowulf followed Grendel to his mother’s lair beneath the waters of the moor, seeking death and glory. He nearly drowned in the dead pool, had it not been for Grendel’s mother. She saved him from the creatures of the deep so she could kill him herself. In her den Beowulf found a sword of the giants – one which no other mortal human would be able to wield – and with it he destroyed the mother. He took Grendel’s head and the hilt of the giant sword back as gifts to the King.

Because of his deeds, Beowulf is rewarded, and ruled his own land for many years until a great red dragon appeared. When a slave steals a golden cup from a dragon’s hoard, the beast takes retribution against the people burning everything in his path. So Beowulf, in his twilight years, donned his sword and shield to do battle once more. His warriors, in fear, ran from the red dragon, save one, Wiglaf, who stood with Beowulf. Together they destroyed the reptile, but in the process Beowulf was fatally wounded. Beowulf gave his weapons to Wiglaf, last of his kin then died. Beowulf was then honored in a burial pyre. After his death hard times fell on the Geats.

Petrucha’s adaptation is a modern retelling of this ancient, oral tale. The story is not poetic in nature, but it is no less engaging. In fact, this translation offers a lot in the way of important and interesting details. In this version we learn that Grendel is from a race descended from Cain, and therefore his is an accursed race.

“A creature nearby heard the rejoicing, the hard music, the word-songs proclaiming how rightly God had created the heavens and the Earth. Day after day, he suffered from the sound. For he was shunned by God, like his ancestor Cain who was banished for the murder of his brother and was left with only beasts for companions. From Cain all wicked offspring were born: giants, and elves, demons and monsters. And through them, GRENDEL.”

This book is written in modern English, which makes this story very accessible to readers, especially young readers, thus requiring less adult intervention. The art is also very modern in that it is created with hard, square lines and a significant amount of contrast. There is also a good balance of text and images. It took me a while to realize what is different about this comic as opposed to other comic works. Finally I realized that Petrucha never uses any onomatopoeia (bamb, pow, boom). The use of such terms is not problematic; in fact, it could be that not using these terms gives the graphic novel a certain seriousness that may not be possible when onomatopoetic sound effects are utilized. The decision to leave them out worked well for this particular title.

My Rating: Ages 10 and older
Publisher’s Rating: Ages 8-12

The vocabulary of this book is easier than other translations because of the modern English, but the blood factor is about the same. Ripping an arm off is ripping an arm off; no matter how you slice it, there will be blood. When recommending to someone younger than 12-years-old, I would use some discretion but not be overly timid. With teens, I would have no reservations at all.

It is the story of Beowulf so there is some fantasy, human-on-monster violence, but no more than is in THE HOBBIT or THE LORD OF THE RINGS.

So much could be done with a piece like this. A high school class could discuss the religious implications of the literature in relation to the time it was created. How did the literature affect later cultures and religious beliefs? Students could also discuss the different translations and the movie adaptation and compare and contrast those pieces. One could also study BEOWULF as a catalyst for the modern English mythology. How has BEOWULF influenced other pieces of literature, namely J.R.R. Tolkien’s world? Younger students could use BEOWULF as a way to help them develop their own mythologies. This is ripe for the “text-to…” discussions that teachers use.

Highly Recommended
BEOWULF is important to study as a piece of classic English literature. It is the first recorded epic poem written in English, albeit Old English. The great thing about this piece is that it is a modern retelling, which allows contemporary youngsters to connect with old literature, ultimately creating an appreciation for and placing a value on traditional literature in the minds of young readers.


Can you believe it? Another adaptation of BEOWULF came into the classroom this week. This one published by Lerner, is aimed at a younger crowd. Because of the movie tie-in it will be reviewed next week, which should conclude my series on Beowulf. I do not know of any other comic adaptations. The TREASURE ISLAND series concluded this month with issue number 6. I have not read any of the issues yet, but I hope they are good and appropriate for the classroom.

An interesting comic (THE CLOCKWORK GIRL) by Arcana Kids publishers also came out this week, selling for only 25 cents. The entire issue is available for free download here. This is listed as an all ages book and proves to be interesting. I received two titles from First Second Books. This publisher has put out some really cool titles so far, two of which can be read here and here.

Here are the titles that came in this week:
  1. Beowulf (Storrie)
  2. The Clockwork Girl #1
  3. Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius
  4. Laika
  5. Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #18
  6. Robot Dreams
  7. Treasure Island #6 (of 6)
  8. Legion of Super-Heroes in 31st Century #8

Friday, November 16, 2007

BEOWULF (Hinds Version)

ADAPTED BY: Gareth Hinds
PUBLISHER: Candlewick Press
GENRE: Traditional Literature

FORMAT: Hardcover
EDITION: Candlewick Press Edition
PAGES: 120 pages
COLOR: Full color
ISBN-13: 978-0-7636-3022-5

This ancient oral story tells the tale of the great warrior Beowulf, kinsman to King Hygelac, and his magnificent ascent to glory and eventual descent into honorable death. In chapter one, Beowulf sails across the sea to save King Hrothgar and his people from the terrible beast Grendel, who ascends upon the King’s great hall every eve to destroy any that dwell there.

Beowulf greets Grendel in the great hall sans his sword and shield – bare-chested – prepared for glory and death. Grendel tears Beowulf’s men apart, their spears and swords crumbling and breaking over his black hide. Beowulf meets beast and bloody battle ensues, ending with Grendel escaping with barely his life and missing a limb.

In chapter two, Beowulf follows Grendel to his mother’s lair beneath the waters of the moor, seeking the heads of both Grendel and his ghastly parent. In that den he picks up a great-sword and he destroys them both and takes Grendel’s head back to King Hrothgar, along with the ancient family sword.

Because of his deeds, Beowulf is rewarded and ruled his own land for many years until a great red dragon appeared. When a slave steals a cup from the dragon’s hoard, the beast takes retribution against the people, burning all in his path. So Beowulf, in his twilight years, dons his sword and shield to do battle once more. His warriors, in fear, run from the red dragon, save one who stands with Beowulf. Together they destroy the reptile, but in the process Beowulf is fatally wounded. After the battle, awaiting death, he takes solace in the fact that his old kinsman and warrior friends have all already passed and that his time, too, has come. Because of his deeds the people of Geatland built unto him a burial tower to honor their fallen hero-King. The dragon’s treasure is buried with him.

BEOWULF, the oldest English epic poem ever recorded, is a powerful story that has served as the basis for many stories, including J.R.R. Tolkien’s LORD OF THE RINGS. Following the three-part story arc, Hinds creates a beautifully illustrated work. This particular edition, in contrast to Hinds’ original self-published book, offers a more modern, but not too modern, accessible translation of the Old English manuscript that will appeal to a wide audience. The language is ornate and well crafted, yet still the message rings true, as is stated when Beowulf enters the hall of King Hrothgar:

“Hail to thee King Hrothgar! I am BEOWULF, kinsman to KING HYGELAC. Many deeds of note have I done in my life, and now the reports of the monster Grendel have brought me to your land. For strangers from over the sea have told us how this fair hall stands empty as soon as evening falls. ‘Twas my comrades who put the thought in my heart, for they had seen my valorous deeds, how I had conquered the foes of my country and brought the race of giants low, and slain monsters both on sea and on land. So now I am come, my lord King, to fight single-handed against this Grendel. More I have heard: that the monster dire, in his wrath, has no regard for weapons. Therefore, I shall carry neither sword nor shield nor coat of mail to this battle. With the grip of my hands only will I confront this enemy; struggling with him, life for life. But who shall live and who shall die, let it be as God shall will.”

Hinds does a magnificent job melding art and word into one comprehensive yet artistic piece of literature. Each chapter in the story is illustrated differently, creating a unique feel for each story arc. The story is bloody, with heads being severed and bodies being impaled and ripped apart. Yet, somehow Hines manages to keep the gruesomeness to a minimum.

The images speak volumes and add much to the written word. In fact, there are significant portions of the story that are told exclusively through illustration. This is especially true in the fight scenes and during the set-up for chapter three when we learn that a slave steals a cup from the dragon, sparking rage and bloodshed on the entire people. This particular episode in chapter three is a bit cumbersome as the reader is required to either have previous knowledge of the story or to then seek out other sources in order to interpret the story.

The lack of certain details is the only thing holding this book back. Readers will undoubtedly be interested in the fact that Grendel is not just a product of an “accursed race” but that he is actually a descendant of the biblical character, Cain, from whom all manner of earthly monster is born, according to this tale. The choice for leaving out the narrative during the introduction of the dragon and for leaving out the reference to Cain was deliberate on the part of Hinds, and while I understand the decision I think it takes away from the story. In the end, these are minor details when considering the whole of the book and the beauty of the storytelling.

My Rating: Ages 10 and older
Publisher’s Rating: No Rating

Rating this graphic novel has left me in something of a quandary. There is quite a discrepancy between the reading level and the interest level, in my opinion. The language is more suitable for a teen, yet the interest level is much lower. In the end, I have opted to rate this title starting at age 10, even though it does have some fantasy, human-on-monster violence. Ultimately, this is a title that should be recommended to children on an individual basis and open to all 12 and older.

This does have some fantasy, human-on-monster violence, including the severing of heads and limbs.

So much could be done with a piece like this. A high school class could discuss the religious implications of the literature in relation to the time it was created. How did the literature affect later cultures and religious beliefs? Students could also discuss the different translations and the movie adaptation and compare and contrast those pieces. One could also study BEOWULF as a catalyst for the modern English mythology. How has BEOWULF influenced other pieces of literature, namely J.R.R. Tolkien’s world? Younger students could use BEOWULF as a way to help them develop their own mythologies.

From the Author’s Note: “The exact date of the composition of BEOWULF is not known. It is an epic poem that was passed down orally from many generations before it was recorded. The first existing manuscript dates to around 1000 AD. The death of Hygelac, Beowulf’s lord, is recorded in 521 AD in the Frankish annals. The most probable date of BEOWULF’s composition, then, is thought to be around 700-850 AD. And yet it still resonates today, and indeed has much in common with our modern superhero stories.”

Hinds originally published BEOWULF as a three-comic series using an older translation by Francis Gummere. Then he collected the issues and republished as a paperback graphic novel. Candlewick Press then took Hinds’ book, used a more modern translation by AJ Church, and republished in both paperback and hardcover. Hinds original art remains intact in all editions and all of the editions are available on Hinds’ website.

Highly Recommended
Considering the implications of BEOWULF on modern literature and culture, this is an important piece to study. The graphic novel offers the reader an interesting look into the mythology and makes it accessible to a new group of young people. Hinds’ work is expressive and poetic and worthy for the classroom.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


What a week! I attended the book talk on Jewish graphic novel literature at the university on Wednesday night. We discussed the Pulitzer Prize winning graphic novel, MAUS, for an hour and a half; that was not nearly enough time. The book truly was a force to be reckoned with. I’m working on that review as well as the reviews for both BEOWULF adaptations all at the same time. I’m also reading the entire BONE series. There is some great stuff in the pipeline coming your way.

Here are the titles that came in this week:

  1. The Batman Strikes #39
  2. The Man in the Iron Mask #5 (of 6)
  3. The Mice Templar #2
  4. Marvel Encyclopedia: The Incredible Hulk
  5. Remembrance of Things Past: Part 3, Vol. 1
  6. Spider-Man: Legend of the Spider Clan #2-5 (of 5)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Eureka Productions is pleased to announce the publication of the revised second edition of the long-out-of-print GRAPHIC CLASSICS: MARK TWAIN, the eighth volume in the GRAPHIC CLASSICS series of comics adaptations of great literature.

This edition contains 38 pages of new material, including a never-done-before comics presentation of “Tom Sawyer Abroad,” Mark Twain’s little-known sequel to “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” with adaptation by Tom Pomplun and George Sellas. Returning from the first edition are “The Mysterious Stranger” by Rick Geary, “A Dog’s Tale” by Lance Tooks, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog” by Kevin Atkinson, and “The Carnival of Crime in Connecticut” by Antonella Caputo and Nick Miller. Also “Is He Living or Is He Dead?” “A Curious Pleasure Excursion,” and eight women artists interpret Mark Twain’s “Advice to Little Girls.” With a dramatic cover painting by George Sellas.

GRAPHIC CLASSICS: MARK TWAIN is available for schools and libraries from Diamond Distributors, Baker & Taylor, Ingram and other distributors, in bookstores, or direct from the publisher at

“Many of the stories contain some of Twain’s most cynical, acidic works of satire. Even the adaptation of the little-read “Tom Sawyer Abroad,” written from Huck Finn’s simple-but-secretly-sophisticated point of view, contains a number of digs at religion, science, and imperialism. George Sellas’ cartoony style is a nice match for what is also a rip-roaring adventure story... there’s a propulsive quality in both prose and art that leaves the reader breathless as they flip from page to page.”

— Rob Clough, SEQUART

Saturday, November 10, 2007


AUTHOR: Lewis Trondheim
ILLUSTRATOR: Fabrice Parme
PUBLISHER: First Second Books

FORMAT: Trade paperback
PAGES: 124 pages
COLOR: Full color
ISBN-10: 1-59643-094-X
ISBN-13: 978-1-59643-094-5

The First Second website summed this title up well: “Welcome to Portocristo; its clear skies, sandy beaches, bustling streets—and its spoiled rotten, six-year-old king. The little despot is grouchy, whiny, and demanding—everything you'd hate to find in a boy on a throne. But here in Portocristo, anything he says goes, no matter how bizarre or harebrained. Prepare for zaniness as young King Ethelbert transports himself back in time to meet a dinosaur, swaps his country's kids for Ethelbert robots, tests his bodyguard's mettle by putting a price on his own head, and shrinks the world down to his size.”

King Ethelbert is a snotty, spoiled little 6-year-old with a flair for the exciting. As king, he can do whatever he wishes putting the adults at his beck-and-call. Typical of youth, he is self-centered and unconcerned with the feelings of others. His biggest concern is competing for riches with his cousin-king from around the bend.

TINY TYRANT is about more than a spoiled child. We have a dandy little yarn about what life would be like if kids were in charge, really in charge. King Ethelbert gets the grown ups and put them into all kinds of predicaments; kids will eat it up with a spoon, and they will see Ethelbert for what he is – a spoiled rich kid. Still, it is great fun to pretend that they are Ethelbert and bossing all of us around.

The most distinctive aspect of Parme’s art is the fact that he uses frameless (or borderless) panels in his illustrations. Some will enjoy the free flowing movement this technique implores; others may be confused by it. The sequence of panels is virtually the same on ever page making the frames unnecessary. I found the technique refreshing and very pleasing to the eye.

Parme also uses different background colors for each chapter, something that I found worked quite well. Many children and adults will check to see how long a chapter is before reading it. The colors make that very easy to do.

I found the illustrations to be absolutely fantastic: clean, clear, precise, and most importantly, the art added more to the story than was found in the text alone.

My Rating: Ages 8 and older
Publisher’s Rating: All Ages
All Ages Reads: All Ages
Comics in the Classroom: Ages 8 and older

There is some mild wrestling-style, Looney Tunes violence, but nothing that the majority of parents would object to.

TINY TYRANT lends itself to companion reading. I think adults and kids can sit down together and read about the hysterical antics of Ethelbert and then talk about how he acts naughty. Described as an anti-hero, Ethelbert is our what-not-to-do role model. Kids understand; they get it. They will not have problems with understanding why they cannot act like Ethelbert. I think it would be a great discussion to talk about why his actions are misguided. What would happen if we acted like Ethelbert at school? What’s wrong with acting like him? Why shouldn’t we all act like Ethelbert. I see a journal entry, classroom blog post, class discussion, or essay in the future. Come to think of it, TINY TYRANT may be just the perfect book to read to students within the first week of school, when we teachers are talking about classroom rules and appropriate behaviors.

Highly Recommended
First Second keeps putting out interesting and unique graphic novels for children. Their stories are not the typical superhero fare, expanding the genre and giving readers choices of what to read. I love it and hope they keep it up. TINY TYRANT is great and lends itself to a great discussion on proper ethics and behaviors. It does so without preaching or lecturing to the students. For that very reason, this title gets a “Highly Recommended” from me.


This is the second week in a row that a graphic adaptation of BEOWULF has made its way into the classroom. As you are probably aware, a movie adaptation is also due out next week. Movie versions of literature (traditional or comic) should spark students into a deep compare/contrast discussion in a classroom. So I am working on those reviews, and maybe more, in the coming days.

Because my university is hosting a book talk on Jewish graphic novel literature, I am reading some of the pieces. MAUS came in this week and I finished both books. Look for this review in the near future.

Here are the titles that came in this week:
  1. Beowulf (Stefan Petrucha)
  2. Maus 1 & 2
  3. Spider-Man: Legend of the Spider Clan 1
  4. Usagi Yojimbo 102-105

Saturday, November 3, 2007


Recently, Rachel Hochberg wrote The Graphic Classroom for some advice. With her permission I reprinted her name and original email as some of you may also be of help. Here goes:

I'm a student in the Children's Lit MA program at Simmons College (in Mass), and I'm doing some research for an independent project on the relationship of graphic novels and other graphic works to theater/live performance. My idea was that since plays and graphic novels are both mostly dialogue or narration by a specific voice, that there should besome relationship between the two.

Apparently it's kind of a stretch; I haven't been able to find any actual graphic works that are about theater, though I have found some about other kinds of live performance, nor have I found any graphic adaptations of theater (as opposed to the multitudes of graphic adaptations of movies). I've been reading (and enjoying!) your blog for a while now, and as I get further into my research I plan to sift through your recommendations there to see if anything fits what I'm looking for, but I wondered if you know off the top of your head of any graphic works that relate to theater or to other kinds of performance.

I'm sure you're swamped with stuff to do, but anything that comes to your mind would be helpful.

Hey Rachel, thank you for the email and the nice comments. There are plenty of graphic adaptations of Shakespeare's works. (I directed her to many of those, which can be obtained from easily enough.) I just did a Google keyword search for "Romeo and Juliet comics and found several. I'm sure there are other adaptations by other writers. I am not familiar enough with plays to be able to search for them.

If you can help Rachel, then leave comments or email me ( and I will forward them to her.

Also, please do not hesitate to contact me with your questions. You can always leave comments or email me privately.


My university has a book discussion group about Jewish literature in graphic novel format. What a great idea. I can't believe I missed this. Thanks to Anne M. Baker, Archivist at the Missouri State University for alerting The Graphic Classroom. I love it when folks look out for me.

So here's the skinny from the MSU website:

Join us in the Curriculum Resource Center on the second floor of Meyer Library for a five-part reading and discussion series on the theme "Modern Marvels: Jewish Adventures in the Graphic Novel.”

The graphic novel is an exciting new form of storytelling. Here, five Jewish artists experiment with words and pictures to tell stories of childhood, war, and desire; to conjure up lost worlds, both real and imaginary; and to contemplate history, myth, and the individual psyche.

All programs will take place from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday evenings in the Curriculum Resource Center, Meyer Library on the Missouri State University campus.

  • Oct 10, 2007 - A Contract with God
  • Nov 14, 2007 - The Complete Maus: A Survivor’s Tale
  • Dec 12, 2007 - Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer
  • Feb 13, 2008 - The Quitter
  • Mar 12, 2008 - The Rabbi’s Cat

For further information, see the flier.

Interested readers are encouraged to register by contacting Cherri Jones at 417 836-4546 or

Ms. Mara Cohen Ioannides, Jewish scholar and Instructor of English at Missouri State University, will serve as discussion leader for the series. Refreshments will be served at each event. Parking passes will be included in each participant’s registration packet.

Let's Talk About It: Jewish Literature — Identity and Imagination, a reading and discussion series, has been made possible by a grant from Nextbook, the American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Local support for this program is provided by The Springfield-Greene County Public Library and Springfield Public Schools.

Friday, November 2, 2007


Carol and Matt Dembicki
PUBLISHER: Little Foot Publishing

FORMAT: Paperback
PAGES: 160 pages
COLOR: Black and White
ISBN-10: 0-978-92819-9
ISBN-13: 978-0-9789281-9-3

The organisms of the pond are tired of the snapping turtle, Mr. Big, and his reign at the top of the food chain. It is time something was done. So the fish et al. get together and plot his demise with the help of the crows. When an Asian snakehead fish is introduced into the new ecosystem, the community regrets its decision to have Mr. Big eradicated, but the crows see their chance to dominate and refuse to back out.

MR. BIG is an anthropomorphic fictional story about the complexity of the naturally self-contained ecosystem that is a pond. Neither didactic nor trite, the Dembicki’s take their understanding of science and delicately weave an interesting tale of revenge and death. MR. BIG is more akin to poetry than prose in that it relies on the illustrations to tell the story rather than the beautifully tight text.

Because of the heavy reliance on the illustrations, the story would have been stronger had the artists used color. The illustrations work very well most of the time, but there were a couple of places where the art was confusing and I argue that the use of color would have helped. After all, a pond is full of beauty and the Dembicki’s missed a chance to showcase all of that beauty by eliminating color.

My Rating: All Ages
All Ages Reads:
No Rating
Comics in the Classroom: Elementary/Middle School

This is an all ages read; it is appropriate for any elementary or middle school student who is studying ecosystems.

MR. BIG is science and this book is sure to peak the interest of the students in their quest to learn more about the delicate balance of life. In fact, this title could lead to some deep scientific inquiry for elementary students for several weeks.

My compadre Scott Tingley, over at Comics in the Classroom, has not only reviewed this book before, but he has posted some lesson plans as well. With his permission, I direct you to his lesson plans.

Highly Recommended

Finding science texts that are not heavy-handed is hard to do. This fact makes MR. BIG all the better when looking for exceptional texts for children. This book makes me want to know more about ecosystems. Science came alive with MR. BIG and I am excited to use this in my classroom.


What an assortment of graphic novels this week! There is traditional literature (the oldest poem written in English), a wordless graphic novel, a children’s book series turned graphic novel, a critically acclaimed graphic novel series, a guide on using comics, and more. This week there is so much reading for so many different people, genders, ages and interests.
  1. Beowulf
  2. Bone Vol. 1-6
  3. Breaking Up: A Fashion High Graphic Novel
  4. Goosebumps Vol. 1-3
  5. The Arrival
  6. The Baby Sitter’s Club Vol. 1-3
  7. Teen Titans Go! 48
  8. Queen Bee
  9. Using Graphic Novels with Children & Teens