Friday, February 29, 2008


ADAPTATIONS BY: (see below)
ILLUSTRATORS: (see below)
PUBLISHER: Eureka Productions
GENRE: Traditional Literature

FORMAT: Trade paperback
PAGES: 144
COLOR: Black and white
ISBN-10: 0-9787919-2-4
ISBN-13: 978-0-9787919-2-6

Eureka Productions presents a series of Mark Twain stories in graphic format. Edited by Tom Pomplun, these stories are a fantastic way to explore and experience traditional literature. This edition is revised with 38 new pages and offers nine different stories from the great American writer:

Advice to Little Girls
Illustrated by Lisa K. Weber

Tom Sawyer Abroad
Adapted by Tom Pomplun and illustrated by George Sellas

The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County
Adapted and illustrated by Kevin Atkinson

A Dog’s Tale
Adapted and illustrated by Lance Tooks

Advice to Little Girls
Illustrated by Florence Cestac, Kirsten Ulve, Shary Flenniken, Toni Pawlowsky, Mary Fleener, Annie Owens and Lesley Reppeteaux.

The Facts Concerning the Recent Carnival of Crime in Connecticut
Adapted by Antonella Caputo and illustrated by Nick Miller
A Curious Pleasure Excursion
Adapted and illustrated by William L. Brown

Is he Living or Is He Dead?
Adapted and illustrated by Simon Gane

The Mysterious Stranger
Adapted and illustrated by Rick Geary

THE MYSTERIOUS STRANGER was great tale, heretofore unread by me, in which Twain shows his insight into the human condition. Writes Twain: “Only man inflicts pain for the pleasure of inflicting it, inspired by that moral sense of his.” This tale would surely be controversial for some students as it questions the human understanding of God and religion, but it is important to study as many great thinkers have asked the same questions. Not all of the stories are controversial.

As always, Twain has a snarky sense of humor and an uncanny ability to string words together. THE FACTS CONCERNING THE RECENT CARNIVAL OF CRIME IN CONNECTICUT was a fine example of his funny bone. A man, who happens to be illustrated to look like Twain, discovers that his conscience not only takes form, but can be destroyed. After that, the man is free to indulge his inner beast.

“I am a man without conscience! I could throttle you and never feel a pang! Fly! I killed thirty-eight persons during the first two weeks … I swindled a widow, and some orphans out of their last cow … I have also committed scores of crimes, and I have enjoyed my work. In conclusion, I wish to advertise that medical colleges would do well to examine the contents of my cellar … because I wish to clear out my stock and get ready for the Spring trade….” The clever part was the sign in his yard: “SALE!! Human bodies. Assorted tramps etc. Suitable for scientific research. Everything must go!!!”

His more famous story, THE CELEBRATED JUMPING FROG OF CALAVERAS COUNTY was another example of Twain’s wit and is kin to his novels, HUCK FINN and TOM SAWYER.


My Rating: Ages 12 and older
Publisher’s Rating: Ages 12 and older

While fine for sixth graders, Twain’s works are better suited for the high school student.

Twain’s wit and wisdom is the perfect thing for the thinking and questioning classroom. Twain’s stories work on many levels, which allows for a diverse reading audience. There are heavy implications in his writing, yet the stories are not bound solely through the philosopher’s lens. This is, in my opinion, the best of the GRAPHIC CLASSICS yet.

There are several other titles in the series including: Bram Stoker, Robert Louis Stevenson, O. Henry, Rafael Sabatini, Edgar Allen Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, H. P. Lovecraft, Jack London, and Ambrose Bierce.

Eureka Productions is releasing a series of tales for FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 08. It will showcase the works of Poe, Lord Dunsany, Conan Doyle, and Mary Shelley. Be sure to pick up the free volume and check out the series. You will want more.

Highly Recommended
Twain is, in my opinion, the greatest American writer and his storytelling prowess is beautifully adapted with this series. What better piece of traditional literature to have in graphic novel format? If any piece of comic literature is suited for the high school literature class, this is it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


DC, Dark Horse and Marvel make up the comics this week – two titles specifically designed for young children and one for those a tad older. A friend of The Graphic Classroom pointed us to a really interesting, over-sized graphic novel adaptation of a piece of traditional children's literature. You will just have to wait for the details until I get my copy.

If you missed it, be sure to check out the article published yesterday, where a man named Uncle O asks The Graphic Classroom to help him locate and purchase some comic literature as a birthday present for his 7-year-old nephew. We love it when people write it and ask questions.

On to the list for this week:

  1. Marvel Adventures: Iron Man #10
  2. Teen Titans Go! #52
  3. Usagi Yojimbo #108

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


A reader sent us an email this week. His email was reprinted with permission.

Where can I buy some of the comics you write about? I have a 7 year-old nephew who is so hyper he's on drugs twice a day. He is really bright but his mom (my sister) has a reading disability and I'd love to start leveraging some of your expertise to get the two of them some good reading material. His birthday is next week.

Uncle O

Dear Uncle O,

I’d be glad to help you out. Your nephew is not alone. Many children struggle to read. This can be very true for children who are “hyper” or possibly have ADHD. Comics can be a great way to help those young children develop good reading habits before their struggles turn into a disgust for reading.

You can buy comics and graphic novels from various places. We recommend that you find a local comic book store and develop a relationship with the staff members who are responsible for comic ordering. Comic book stores sell more than comics and not all staff members may be well versed in them. You may have to shop around until you find the right comic book store for you, one that will remember your needs and make frequent recommendations.

In my case, I am very reliant on my comic book guy. He makes recommendations for me (and his others customers) all the time. He knows our reading habits and helps us pick the right titles. He makes my comic buying experience great.

Diamond Comic Distributor’s offers a Comic Shop Locator service. However, the only comic shops listed are ones who pay an advertising fee. So there may very well be other shops in your area. My shop is one of the best but is not listed on the site.

You can also purchase comics and graphic novels from bricks-and-mortar and online bookstores. Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Borders all carry comic literature. Some have a section for graphic novels. Some have special graphic novel sections within the children’s literature section as well. Typically, the traditional, pamphlet-style comics are located, not near the graphic novels, but near the magazines and newspapers.

Uncle O asked for recommendations for his 7-year-old nephew. Following are a few titles that came to mind for young kids. Some of the titles have been reviewed by The Graphic Classroom, but others have not. Use your own judgment. Be sure to check back with us and let us know how it went.

  1. The Batman Strikes
  2. Franklin Richards: Boy Genious
  3. Lions, Tigers and Bears
  4. Marvel Adventures (any titles)
  5. Patrick the Wolf Boy
  6. Robot Dreams
  7. Tiny Titans (new title)
  8. Tiny Tyrant

We appreciate questions, comments and feedback from our readers. Please feel free to contact us. If you give your permission, we will also publish your questions or comments so that other readers can benefit as well. Thanks for sharing.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Mr. T, the mohawk muscleman of the 1980’s, makes his graphic novel debut aptly named “Mr. T.”

Says the T-Man: “There’s my long-time fans, but there’s also a new generation because of A-Team reruns, my cartoon show reruns, and the renewed interest in Rocky III following the recent sequel. That’s humbling, and this graphic novel is my method of reaching them all. I’m so proud of all my life’s work, but to see myself in this book feels extra special.”

The story centers around Mr. T as a bodyguard – the world’s greatest bodyguard – who must defend his clients against the evils of the world.

Author Christopher Bunting adds: “We’ve seen comebacks happen over and over again in the entertainment industry, whether it's John Travolta, the Spice Girls, or fictitious characters such as Indiana Jones or Rambo. Now it’s Mr. T’s time.”

Mr. T, Executive Editor of the title, adds: “I’ve always strived to be a good role model to children and adults alike. I can’t think of a better way to do that than by encouraging people to read! What would I say to anyone who doesn’t read my graphic novel? I pity the fool!”

Mr. T: Limited Advance Edition can be ordered direct from publisher Mohawk Media for the exclusive price of $39 including delivery. Alternatively, from April 2008, it will be available through bookstores worldwide, including online, by quoting its 13-digit ISBN: 9780955680403.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


Easter is coming and in anticipation, I have started to collect some books to stuff in my daughter’s basket instead of candy. She loves books and considers them a wonderful gift. She loves candy too, but she will get plenty of that at school. Some of what you see listed here is actually for her including: BETTY & VERONICA and DIARY OF A WIMPY KID. However, I will eventually take a look and report what I find in those books at THE GRAPHIC CLASSROOM. DIARY is actually a comic/prose hybrid and is well known in children’s literary circles. If it turns out to be good, I will want a copy for the classroom.

I’m sorry to see the WONDER GIRL series end. We need more female protagonists and my daughter really enjoyed this title. GREAT EXPECTATIONS was one of my favorite stories that I read in school. After we read it, we watched the movie, which really helped me to understand it. I was a struggling reader. So, I am excited about this book. I also stumbled upon PRIDE OF BAGHDAD, which looks very interesting.

For my birthday, my wife and daughter bought WONDER WOMAN: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE AMAZON PRINCESS. They were thinking of my classroom, of course, and how children who read comics may want to do some research on their favorite characters. What a great resource to have in a classroom.

Here is the list of comics that came into the classroom this week:
  1. Betty & Veronica
  2. Classics Illustrated: Great Expectations
  3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid
  4. Marvel Adventures: Avengers #21
  5. Pride of Baghdad
  6. Thor #4
  7. Wonder Girl #6 (of 6)
  8. Wonder Woman: The Ultimate Guide to the Amazon Princess
  9. Usagi Yojimbo #106, #109

Friday, February 22, 2008


PUBLISHER: Image Comics
GENRE: Fantasy

FORMAT: Trade paperback
COLOR: Black and white
ISBN-13: 978-1-58240-884-2

Glister Butterworth and her dad live in the ramshackle, and magical castle known as Chilblain Hall. When the village enters a competition and the Hall is frowned upon, the Hall takes umbrage. So the building pulls up roots, so to speak, and runs away.

Glister and her father find a new place to live – a nicer place – but it simply will not due. Draft free and quaint, it is not home. Fortunately for Glister, the ghost writer of the house sends her letters and eventually Glister persuades Chilblain Hall to return, but not before making some concessions.

This is a cute story about a girl and her eccentric life. The world around Glister is peculiar to say the least, but she is used to all things strange. It makes no difference to her, although the mail carrier is none too happy about the goings-on. Watson manages to put together a very British comic about a girl, her house, a troll and the world, and somehow it all makes sense and fits together well. GLISTER is amazingly quaint and low-key. There are no battles, no great journeys, no heroic archetypes, just a girl and her quiet life, but I like it that way.

Waston’s art is as quaint as his writing and is also representative of his meandering style. Color would have made the comic better.

Page 1

Page 2

Page 10

My Rating: All ages
Publisher’s Rating: All ages

Young kids will struggle with Glister because of the British language, but there is nothing offensive or problematic about Glister that would hinder it being available to children.

Besides the fact that it will take children some time to get used to the language, GLISTER is a study of a more slow-paced, meandering style of story telling than the traditional super hero comic. For those children who are looking for something a bit different, this may be just the thing. If a teacher were to teach about personification, then GLISTER would be great. Chilblain Hall definitely takes on human characteristics, but it does so without dialogue, which is interesting, but the Hall is still a character.

GLISTER Volumes 1 and 3 are also available.

GLISTER is different. It is not traditional fantasy. It’s not traditional in many ways, which is why I recommend it for the classroom. GLISTER fills a void that other comics leave wide open.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Issue #1

Issue #2

Issue #3

Issue #4

Issue #5

Issue #6

ORIGINAL AUTHOR: Robert Louis Stevenson
ADAPTED BY: Roy Thomas
PENCILS: Mario Gully
INKS: Pat Davidson
COLORS: Chris Sotomayor
PUBLISHER: Marvel Comics
GENRE: Traditional literature in comic format

PAGES: 32 pages each
COLOR: Full color

From the Marvel website:

Issue #1
In this first issue, a scurvy pirate named Billy Bones jealously guards a mysterious treasure chest, hiding it at the inn owned by the father of young Jim Hawkins. In pursuit of the chest is the most ruthless band of pirates ever to strap on a cutlass, and when Billy Bones dies, all that stands between the pirate crew and the coveted treasure is poor Jim! This is a classic tale that has thrilled generations of readers, taken in by the allure of the sea – as only Stevenson could present it!

Issue #2
With a treasure map in hand, young Jim Hawkins sets out to find buried treasure – as a cabin boy! But en route, Jim learns – to his horror – that the crew of the ship is comprised of former allies of Flint…the very man whose treasure they seek! And these brigands are planning to take the treasure – and murder anyone who gets in their way.

Issue #3
Realizing that he shares lodging on the ship Hispaniola with mutineers, young Jim Hawkins makes his escape to shore and plunges deep into the island. Elsewhere, the mutineers battle the loyal sailors to the death! When Jim rejoins his shipmates, the head of the mutineers, Long John Silver offers a ceasefire in exchange for the map showing where the buried treasure is located. And if Jim and company don’t accept, they may be marooned – or worse.

Issue #4
While the mutineers are ashore on Treasure Island, young Jim Hawkins climbs aboard the near-deserted ship, the Hispaniola … but there is one last mutineer who has stowed aboard the vessel and stalks Jim with a very long, very sharp knife.

Issue #5
Back on the island young Jim Hawkins is captured by the pirates who’ve taken over the stockade. Worse, Jim’s life may be worthless to them now that they have the map, which will take them directly to the treasure! It will take every resource the young man has to keep a cutlass from cutting him in two. It’s the penultimate chapter in this seafaring saga of skullduggery. Don’t miss it.

Issue #6
The seafaring saga comes to a stunning conclusion! Young Jim Hawkins is now a prisoner of the vicious pirates lead by the treacherous Long John Silver. Silver demands Hawkins take his scurvy crew to the treasure buried on the island or his life is forfeit! We bring a close to this great adventure that has thrilled generations of readers since its debut.


This is the first Marvel Illustrated title that I have read. It is seamless, clean and really engages the imagination. From my perspective, it did exactly what it is supposed to do, or what I think it is supposed to do: It makes me want to read the original text.

Obviously it is a condensed story, as it is told in only six issues. The Marvel version tells the tale quickly and focuses on the action. The details in the art are outstanding and the backdrop really creates a rich environment. Case in point: the wrinkles on the characters and the iconic pirate, rum song. Here are some samples of the interior art:

My Rating: Ages 13 and older
Publisher’s Recommended Age: T+ (Ages 13 and older)

Yes it is bloody and scary, but it is also interesting and is considerably better literature than most of the sanitized literature curriculum in many schools. This story could be read by those younger than 13, but the teacher needs to take care and be prepared to defend the decision, which I think could the right decision, depending on the classroom and the surrounding culture.

It goes without saying that this is a classic pirate tale. It swashes and buckles and bleeds. The characters drink and a good portion of the story takes place in a tavern.


The comic adaptation gave life to what kids, teens and some adults might see as a boring old “classic” and made it accessible and interesting. That is not to say that the interest should stop there, and I do not think that it does. For the struggling reader or those who find the traditional novel a chore, they can read the comic adaptation and make sense of the story, which makes reading the novel easier to understand and more entertaining. For many, the comic adaptation will demonstrate that the classics are not boring old texts that adults like and kids hate, but that old books are still relevant.

This is not the only classic title being adapted to comics by Marvel. Some are already available in hardback and new titles are being published:


TREASURE ISLAND is also available from Marvel’s new Digital Comics online subscription service.


Highly Recommended
This comic is done well and deserves a place in the school system. Kids will love reading it and I think it will help students approach classic novels with an open mind.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


For you new readers, an explanation: Every week I list the comics that came into the classroom. These titles are added to my queue of books that need to be reviewed. The list includes titles from mainstream and independent publishers. Of course, you are welcome to send suggestions of comics or graphic novels that you would like to see reviewed. I will try to acquire the titles if possible. You can access previous weeks by clicking on the label “In The Classroom This Week" located on the sidebar.

I have been anticipating TINY TITANS for some time. I am glad to see DC appeal to very young readers with this tiny superhero title. For the middle school and high school teachers, the manga-style Shakespeare book are written in original language and may prove a good way to get students into the classics.

I have recently added the MARVEL ADVENTURES: IRON MAN series to my collection. It seemed a smart move considering the live action movie adaptation is scheduled for release this May.

Here is the list of books that came into the classroom this week:
  1. The Batman Strikes #42
  2. Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #11
  3. Marvel Adventures: Iron Man #8
  4. Shakespeare’s Hamlet: The Manga Edition
  5. Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: The Manga Edition
  6. Shakespeare’s Macbeth: The Manga Edition
  7. Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet: The Manga Edition
  8. Tiny Titans

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I’m just thinking out loud here, but I am interested in hearing from teachers who use comic literature in their classroom. Be it superhero, mainstream or independent comics, I would like to know how you use comics and how your students respond.

Moreover, I would like to hear from the students themselves. I am very interested in publishing some essays by elementary, middle school or high school students about how comic literature has influenced and affected their lives, their reading habits, their enjoyment of reading, and their education.

I would also like to publish some examples of student work involving comic literature. It can take many forms, but here are just a few examples:

  • A student-created comic about photosynthesis or the lifecycle of a butterfly
  • A compare/contrast essay of a graphic adaptation of a book versus the original novel
  • Well developed argument about the ethics of Superman versus Batman
  • A review of a comic book or graphic novel using good writing techniques
  • An essay on the use of figurative language in comics (onomatopoeia, simile, alliteration)
  • A student-created piece of fictional comic literature

Perhaps, a technology-driven classroom could have an assignment where the students respond to one of my reviews, and they discuss what they liked or disliked about the title. More importantly, they defend their position using examples from that title and other stories they know.

If you are a teacher who uses comic literature in the classroom and you are interested in getting your students involved and possibly published, then please respond in the comments section or email me directly at It could be that THE GRAPHIC CLASSROOM hosts a comic literature competition for your classroom, grade, school, or state. The winning essay, comic or other project is published right here.

Monday, February 11, 2008


RELATED REVIEW AT TGC: Adventures of Rabbit and Bear Paws: The Sugar Bush

Little Spirit Bear has created a Teaching Tool called, "Adventures of Rabbit and Bear Paws volume1: Teacher Guide” to help teachers, librarians and media literacy specialists better understand native peoples and graphic novels. This 34 page CD-PDF highlights the educational material found the volume 1: The Sugar Bush.

What’s inside the teacher’s guide:
  • Using the art of Adventures of Rabbit and Bear Paws
  • Social Studies
  • History
  • Geography
  • Character education/traditional teachings
  • Native gifts to modern society
  • Activity sheets
  • Additional resources

Friday, February 8, 2008


PUBLISHER: First Second

FORMAT: Trade paperback
PAGES: 208
COLOR: Full color
ISBN-10: 1-59643-108-3
ISBN-13: 978-1-59643-108-9

Dog is excited. He is expecting a package in the mail and is giddy when the mail carrier finally delivers the goods. Dog opens it and begins assembling his mail-order robot and soon-to-be friend. They have good times, Dog and Robot, watching movies, reading books and hanging out. But when a trip to the beach leaves Robot rusting in the sand, Dog runs away. He does come back, mind you, but the beach is closed and he cannot get to his friend. Over the next year, Robot is rusted solid like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz, dreaming of what his life might have been. Dog gets lonely too, and he spends his time trying to fill the void with new friends. What becomes of the two? That is the story of ROBOT DREAMS.

With the exception of some onomatopoetic sound effects, Sara Varon knows how to tell a story without ever writing down a single word. The true nature of friendship is revealed in this sincere and unpretentious story of Dog and Robot. It is sad, but not heart wrenching; it is poignant yet delicate – beautiful in its simplicity. Friendship is the basis of all human contact. Without it, we are reduced to a primitive shell of misery, and this story explores the truths of friendship is its purest form. Varon does a good job showing the pains of friendship without overwhelming the reader. It is a good story and will serve children well.

I introduced comics to some inner-city children at an after-school tutoring program. They stood in line to read ROBOT DREAMS. It was amazingly popular with the second through fifth graders. They could not wait to read a wordless comic.

Using a soft color palette, Varon creates a tender world where Dog and Robot can live and feel and ultimately deal with life as it happens. While the art is simple, there is depth and feeling pushing through the story. The illustrations compliment the story well and are crafted with the intended audience in mind.

My Rating: All Ages
Publisher’s Rating: Younger readers

This is a well-crafted tale for young kids and it does not matter if they can read or not. It is a subject that all people care about: friendship.

ROBOT DREAMS is a good place to start when exploring the building blocks of story telling. The five elements of fiction (setting, characters, plot, theme and style) are all present and easy for kids to dissect and understand. Teachers could also pick up on and help students explore other elements such as how to discern between what really happens in a story and dream sequences. In this case, dream sequences have a squiggly, rounded border.

Of course students will want to explore the theme of the book, which is friendship. The friendship process can be an exciting and painful journey for children and adults. ROBOT DREAMS helps readers make sense of the progression that is friendship. In this story, there are those who find friends and those who have to create them. I know that kids can relate to that. This is a great edition to any classroom.

Highly Recommended
ROBOT DREAMS is nothing if not unique and expressive. It can be enjoyed by kids of all ages. First Second Books has a knack for finding comic creators who have a different story to tell and a distinct way to tell it.

I handed this book to my 7-year-old second grader and she sat down and devoured it, turning page after page until it was finished it. She liked how Dog and Robot became friends and how they each made new friends at the end of the book.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


My comic book guy, Stu, turned me toward Larry Gonick’s series of books. A CARTOON HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES is the first book that came into the classroom. You should check out the link and the other books in the series: chemistry, computers, the environment, genetics, physics, world history, modern history, sex, and statistics are all books in the series. They deserve a look.

Marvel is continuing with its Marvel Illustrated line. This week is MOBY DICK, which is meant for teens. As always, the Marvel Adventures line puts out great books for kids. TEEN TITAN: YEAR 1, on the other hand, is a DC line meant for teens. I have great hopes for this title.

Here is the list of titles that came into the classroom this week:

  1. A Cartoon History of the United States
  2. Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America
  3. Marvel Adventures: Hulk #2-7
  4. Marvel Adventures: Iron Man #1-2, 4-7, 9
  5. Marvel Illustrated: Moby Dick #1
  6. Teen Titans: Year 1 #2

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


A friend of mine from the Springfield, MO area left a comment, asking about books for Pre-K kids. Picture books make up the bulk of the Pre-K reading library, but a strong argument could be made that picture books are nothing more than emerging or early forms of comics.

With that said, there are some books out there – and some books coming out soon – that cater to the very young, say Kindergarten to third grade readers. However, I would not hesitate to try them out on some Pre-K kids and see how they respond. Thanks for asking. If you have questions for me, please send me an email at abikerbard at mac dot com or leave a comment.

Here is a taste of some comic literature for young readers:

This is a wordless comic that can be enjoyed by more than the very young. It is black and white, uses traditional comic frames, but the story is told through the actions and emotions of the characters. No need for any words besides the occasional onomatopoeia.

Toon Books
This publisher offers new titles to the market that start coming out in April. These sport more words, but not too many. This is made for the emerging reader.

Robot Dreams
This is another wordless comic. My second grader loved it and breezed through it, so I think it could be great for younger kids. It is a graphic novel and is probably too long for most Pre-K kids, but it is wonderful.

Sunday, February 3, 2008


AUTHOR: Jason M. Burns
COLORS: Ramon Espinoza
PUBLISHER: Viper Comics
GENRE: Superhero, horror, sci-fi

FORMAT: Trade paperback
COLOR: Full color
ISBN-10: 0-9793680-5-7
ISBN-13: 978-0-9793680-5-9

Four high school friends run their own newspaper, investigating the eerie things occurring in Sleepy Hollow. Ghosts, monsters and aliens are all around and these kids are determined to get to the bottom of it. At least one town official is dead-set against the kids exposing the town’s secrets and he will go to any length to stop them.

Suzanne and Thomas Watson, 15-year-old twins with a puzzle-piece shaped birthmark on their faces started the newspaper. They recruited sophomore, Grant Stewart, to be the photographer and Mathias Newcomb, the only one in middle school, as the art director. Each student has his or her own issues. The Watsons have family issues, while Grant has prosthetic arms and Mathias is overweight. What the kids do have in common, although they do not all know it, is that they all have some form of super powers.

A bit edgy, a bit naughty, a little bit irreverent: THE SLEEPY TRUTH has what it takes to draw kids in, while keeping parents and teachers wriggling in uncertainty. There is nothing controversial about THE SLEEPY TRUTH. No nudity, no swearing. Just typical kids who tease and talk the way kids do. Typical of teenage boys, they dare each other. In this case, they are daring one another to tape their newspaper to the gate of a spooky house.

Grant: Don’t be a pansy, man. Grow a pair and do it.
Mathias: If you’re such a tough guy, why don’t you walk up there and tape one to the gate?
Grant: I don’t have to. I have seniority.
Mathias: Take your seniority and stick it up your pie hole, Grant. You’re not talking me into doing it.

Grant also spends a lot of time making fun of Mathias’ weight, which may seem cruel. I don’t think it is intended to. The boys care for one another. Mathias, being a year younger, is earning his keep to hang with an older boy. I don’t think it is meant to be mean, but rather endearing between two kids who have physical conditions.

These are strong kids. They are artistic, outspoken and determined to write about the strange goings-on in their town, despite the fact that a town official is trying to silence, control and eventually kill them.

The story moves along very quickly, a little too quickly for my personal taste. I would have liked to see a bit more character development before the twins come to understand the truth about the monster in their lives. Regardless of the pace, so many of today’s kids struggle with absentee parents and this story broaches the subject full on. I hope to see that storyline flushed out in further installments.

From cover to cover, this book is highly stylized and very unique. The characters have a distinct quality about them. It is unlike anything I have ever seen and I appreciate the artistic style used. It is refreshing, although I would have preferred always seeing a mouth, lest the characters appear drawn upside down. It is a minor point. Every aspect of the art is considered and I really enjoy it. I especially love the fact that the front cover looks like the front page of a tabloid. Very clever.

Page 14

Page 18

My Rating: Ages 10 and older
Publisher’s Rating: Not rated
Comics in the Classroom: Ages 10 and older

The students are strong and deal with their troubles. They do not do anything, say anything or think anything that typical kids, even those in upper elementary, do not say, think or do. These are good characters and the book will be interesting to students, especially if they think it is controversial.

THE SLEEPY TRUTH is a bit edgy and it may invoke a kind of nervousness similar to the concerns raised with books like CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS. I am unconcerned.

A student-run newspaper, dead-beat Dads, ghost stories, First Amendment rights, and disability: all of these subjects are issues in the first volume of this book. That is a lot to digest, but somehow it is all worked in naturally, giving the teacher oodles of opportunities to use this book across the curriculum and to promote high ethics and standards. If kids think they are reading something that could get them into trouble, even when it is just fine, then they will be attracted to it. I suggest using that knowledge to your advantage to draw in those especially hard-to-reach students.

THE SLEEPY TRUTH also lends itself to the creation of a classroom or school newspaper. A teacher could also use the newspaper format as a way for students to demonstrate their knowledge of any particular subject.

THE SLEEPY TRUTH is a tad irreverent, chocked full of hard-hitting issues, and fun all at the same time.

Friday, February 1, 2008


We are honored to be in the news again, this time we were featured at Maine Coast Now. Writer Thomas Hanson, did a nice job portraying the use of comic literature in the classroom.