Thursday, October 29, 2009

ALL-ACTION CLASSICS: DRACULA



 
By Tracy Edmunds
Staff Writer


Original Author: Bram Stoker
Writer: Michael Mucci
Illustrator: Ben Caldwell
Colorist: Bill Halliar
Publisher: Sterling
Genre: Horror

Format: Softcover
Pages: 128
Color: Full color
ISBN-13: 978-1402731525


STORY SYNOPSIS
A graphic adaptation of the iconic novel by Bram Stoker featuring the familiar tale of Jonathan Harker’s strange journey to the castle of Count Dracula and the evil doings of the Count in England.


REVIEW
ALL-ACTION CLASSICS: DRACULA is a wonderful adaptation that will surely appeal to younger readers. I know many kids find the original novel daunting because of the archaic language, but through the use of the comic medium, where art and text share the storytelling, this classic literature becomes accessible to a wider audience. There’s nothing new or clever in Mucci and Caldwell’s use of the medium, which is a good thing in this case. The simple panel layouts,;clear, easy-to-follow text placement; and careful combination of pictures with words all work in service of the story and result in  an engrossing read.

The art is not as gothic and gloomy as many adaptations; it’s more colorful and, as the title suggests,  action-packed. It reads like an animated cartoon and I found myself marveling at Halliar’s colors – I have never thought of Dracula as a colorful story, but his reds and blues and purples and yellows are perfectly suited to the tale and help to turn up the volume of the story.

This is a character-driven story and Caldwell has created memorable visual representations of the classic Dracula characters. I particularly liked his dapper Dr. Seward, the Twain-esque American Quincy Morris, the deadly beautiful Brides, and Dracula himself, who looks nothing like Bela Lugosi. The violence and bloodshed are kept to a minimum visually, but of course, it’s a horror story, so sensitive readers may find it difficult.


AGE RECOMMENDATION
Tracy’s Rating: Ages 10 and up
Publisher’s rating: Ages 10 - 14


IN THE CLASSROOM
This is a great introduction to the original that will hook younger readers immediately. After reading this version, it would be great to read the original and then compare and contrast. Which parts of the novel did the writer of the All-Action version choose to include or omit and why? Where did the writer and illustrator allow the pictures to convey information in place of text? You could have students choose a single page or panel of this graphic novel and match it to the page or pages of text from which it was adapted. The novel is presented as a series of diary entries and letters. Students could discuss how the graphic adaptation varies from this format and how each version might affect the reader.


TRACY’S RECOMMENDATION
Highly Recommended 

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

IN THE CLASSROOM THIS WEEK & LAST

From the Editor

You are correct. I did miss my deadline last week, neglecting to publish so much as a “not this week” post. I was terribly sick last weekend and had little time for rest as our schedule was jam-packed. I offer my humblest of apologies.

To make up, I am posting early this week and adding an extra review. I can only hope all is forgotten.

Scary Day is almost upon us. Our annual horror fest is finished with this series of posts. We will get back to other genres next week. I hope you enjoyed fright fest with The Graphic Classroom, and please remember that the horror genre is very popular in school libraries.

Here is the list of titles that came into the Classroom this week (and last):


DUNGEON: MONSTRES VOL. 2 (THE DARK LORD)




By Chris Wilson
Editor-in-Geek



REVIEW 

Periodically, I run into a book that has a strange dichotomy being either questionable or unsuitable for the classroom on one hand, and at the same time diabolically enjoyable on the other. For me DUNGEON is one of those strange books. It has enough questionable material (cursing, violence, sorcery and sex or brief sexual situations) to make a classroom recommendation difficult if not painful.

DUNGEON, at least the volume I read, was one of those books that slowly punctured my side with its dragon claws, clasped onto my ribs and held tight. By the end of the book, I was sad to see the story end. In fact, I was eyeing the other volume sent to me (DUNGEON: ZENITH VOL. 3, BACK IN STYLE) and contemplating if I had the time to spare to read it, too. The large queue of books to review sitting on my shelf ultimately won out. Dang. I’ll come back to this book in a future review.

Fans of fantasy and parody will delight in the swashbuckling swordplay and sorcery, map hunting, world-saving, planet-exploding nature of the DUNGEON universe. But teachers must take care to ensure that DUNGEON is appropriate for their classroom, school and community. The cursing is pretty mild by today’s standards (butt, crap, hell, damn, damned, dammit, and the ever-clever damn crap).

On page 24 Nicole the cat tells Marvin that they are sleeping together and the jealous Zakutu, asks Marvin if her encounter with him was simply a one-night stand. On page 26, one panel depicts Marvin and Nicole in bed together. Of course, there is all manner of sorcery and magic to contend with. There is also some level of sword-stabbing and throat-opening violence. It’s mild, along with the cursing, but it is present. The mixture of violence, magic, brief sexual scenarios and light profanity make for a straight-from-the-oven loaf of hot controversy in many communities.

On the other hand, I can see some out-of-the-mainstream middle school and high school students latching onto DUNGEON and holding on for dear life, laughing and cheering their way through the entire series. Why not? DUNGEON is absurd and fantastic and an all around hoot while still offering a literary journey.

Teachers could make use of DUNGEON, especially to hook those fringe students with a clever wit and desire for serious action-adventure. The series is inspiring; it makes me want to write. How engaging would it be for students to read the series then write their own epic poem about one of the many characters in the DUNGEON mythos. A student-created poem about a character would link back to our canon and the classic poems of Homer and others. Using modern comics to connect to the classics – it doesn’t get any better than that.




CHRIS' RECOMMENDATIONS
My Suggested Age Recommendation: High School
My Overall Recommendation:
Highly Recommended with Strong Reservations


OTHER INFORMATION:

Authors: Joann Sfar and Louis Trondheim
Guest Illustrator (chapter 1): Andreas
Guest Illustrator (chapter 2): St├ęphane Blanquet
Publisher: NBM
Genre: Fantasy

Format: Softcover
Volume: 2
Pages: 96
Color: Color
ISBN-10: 1-56163-540-5
ISBN-13: 978-1-56163-540-5


There are numerous other titles in this series originally published in French. The DUNGEON books translated into English include:

Dungeon: Zenith Vol. 1 (Duck Heart)
Dungeon: Zenith Vol. 2 (The Barbarian Princess)
Dungeon: Zenith Vol. 3 (Back in Style)
Dungeon: Parade Vol. 1 (A Dungeon Too Many)
Dungeon: Parade Vol. 2 (Day of the Toads)
Dungeon: The Early Years Vol. 1 (The Night Shirt) nominated for an Eisner Award
Dungeon: Twilight Vol. 1 (Dragon Cemetery)
Dungeon: Twilight Vol. 2 (Armageddon)
Dungeon: Monstres Vol. 1 (The Crying Giant)

THE STAND







By Chris Wilson
Editor-in-Geek



Original Author: Stephen King
Adaptation: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Pencils & Inks: Mike Perkins
Colors: Laura Martin
Lettering: Chris Eliopoulos
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Genre: Horror

Format: Comic
Issues: Captain Trips #1-#5; American Nightmares #1-#4
Color: Full color


STORY SYNOPSIS
THE STAND is a heavy-duty apocalyptic story of a horrific, military-engineered airborne virus that gets released by mistake and infects 99.6 percent of the population. Death comes within four days or so and there is no treatment, no cure, no inoculations.

The government, with an iron fist and loaded gun, takes over all media outlets – newspaper, radio and television – working hard to cover, conceal and contain before widespread panic ensues. Facilities run by the military and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) get infected, too, leaving no scientists to engineer a cure even if there was such a possibility.

The few immune survivors set out on their individual paths to find safety and company and to make sense of the chaotic new world. All the while a stranger, the faceless malevolent beast Randall Flagg, is making his way through the carnage in preparation for his rebirth.


REVIEW
I knew going in that it would be hard, if not impossible, to recommend the comic adaptation of Stephen King’s THE STAND for elementary or secondary students. Something about it coming from King and the fact that it carries a parental advisory on the front of every issue indicated that my efforts might just be a bit futile as far as a  review was concerned.

That’s okay. I accepted that fact.

I didn’t read THE STAND for students as much as I read it for myself. I wanted to read it; I have been collecting the issues since September 2008 and for many people King is the supreme chancellor of horror fiction.

So I offer to you this strangle little review that is more for my own benefit, for my own desire to read, from my own beliefs of comic literature as the catalyst that creates life long readers. I hope you find it less of a review and more of an homage to the great art form that is comics.

THE STAND is apropos as many worldwide governments are fighting and preparing for the pandemic viral H1N1 flu, better known as the Swine Flu. The reality of that flu adds to the authenticity of the story and underscores the stomach-punched feeling of dread that occured as I read the Aguirre-Sacasa/Perkins/Martin comic adaptation.

It’s downright scary to think that King’s story (or parts of it at least) could come alive in the 21st century. The first two story arcs are focused on the real-life biohazard with little emphasis on the transcendental character of Flagg. While the paranormal aspect has barely begun, it is clear Flagg brings nothing but death with him.

How will the characters respond? What path will they choose? Most have weaknesses, some more than others and Flagg is certainly prepared to exploit those character flaws. This story will undoubtedly end in a day of reckoning between good and evil. But themes such as individual versus society, as well as redemption, destiny, and religion will appear.

THE STAND has proven to be a great October comic, something that made me uncomfortable and excited at the same time. This really hit home in THE STAND: CAPTAIN TRIPS #4 when I came to the two-page spread after the story. In it the writer gives us a list of several of the world’s great viral infections that have killed millions. Incidentally, this included the Spanish Flu of 1918, which I learned was a strain of the Influenza A subtype H1N1 virus. How about that for scary? What a perfect detail to add to this comic. Kudos to whoever thought that up. I had to use hand sanitizer after reading the epilogue.

I loved the book. I am excited to finish it out with SOUL SURVIVORS. However, I do offer this cautionary advice: Reading THE STAND right now may cause you to become a hypervigilant, OCD, germaphobe. Reader beware of the impact literature can have on one’s psyche.

I love it when literature affects me, especially if it can scare the beejeebers out of me. THE STAND has definitely done that and more thanks to outstanding writing and art.


CHRIS’ RECOMMENDATION:
Not Recommended for the Classroom
For what should be obvious reasons (strong language, bloody violence, grotesque situations) I would not recommend this comic for the elementary/secondary classroom. Now, the college classroom is another story. I would recommend it as a stand-alone reading or as a dual text reading (novel and comic), given the right classroom.

EEK & ACK VS THE WOLFMAN


 

 
By Chris Wilson
Editor-in-Geek



Author: Blake A. Hoena
Illustrator:
Steve Harpster
Publisher: Stone Arch Books
Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi

Format: Hardcover
Pages: 40
Color: Full color
ISBN-13: 978-1-4342-1189-7


STORY SYNOPSIS
Eek and Ack, the comedic extraterrestrial duo, fly to Earth in their washing machine-shaped ship for the sinister purposing of determining the best way to conquer the third rock from the sun.

It just so happens that they land at Lake Lobo, which we already know is home to at least one werewolf. Dressed as a space alien (duh) and a ballerina they head out incognito on … you guessed it … Halloween.

The discovery of candy is a nice treat, but the trick is that they also stumble onto a real-life werewolf. Narrowly escaping his cluthes – by the cotton of their space alien Underoos – Eek and Ack do their best to fix the situation. Once back on their home planet, they realize that the monster’s bite is worse than his howl.


REVIEW
EEK & ACK VS THE WOLFMAN is more comedy than horror with just enough monster goodness to tickle a child’s fancy but not enough to give anyone the slightest nightmare. I laughed throughout the book and constantly thought of the kids at my school and how they would really dig this book. The girls and the boys would laugh at the crazy antics of Eek and Ack. There’s an underpants scene, vomit, a washing machine space ship, and two goofy looking aliens. How could kids not love this book?

The pacing is right on with plenty of funny dialogue, great situations, and hysterical action. Of course we have a glossary, pronunciation guide, bios of the creators, discussion questions, writing prompts, further information on werewolves, and even a Fact Hound Internet site.


ART REVIEW
The dark purple page backgrounds and heavy inks on the panel’s frames make for a bit of a creepy crawly tone. The illustration of the characters is a hoot. The two together make for a nice Halloween combination that is just right for little ones.


AGE RECOMMENDATION
Chris’ Rating: Ages 7 and older
Publisher’s Reading Level: Grades 1-3
Publisher’s Interest Level: Grades 2-5

Guided Reading Level: J
Lexile: GN 500L
ATOS: 2.1
AR Quiz No.: 127551
Dewey: 741.5


IN THE CLASSROOM

The book provides some interesting discussion questions and writing prompts that kids would Think-Pair-Share about. It might be interesting to have the students create their own comic about two aliens invading Earth. What would happen? Could students make text-to-world connections in the writing to make it funny and appealing? Sounds like that might be asking them to consider their audience, too, which we know is a national standard for this age group.

 
CHRIS’ RECOMMENDATION:
Highly Recommendation

Saturday, October 17, 2009

USING FACEBOOK

As you know, I am the K-4 Technology Lab teacher at Mathews Elementary in Nixa, MO. I have a Facebook site for my tech lab/comic book club. I use it to connect with parents and students and just make information available. Feel free to become a fan using the widget in the sidebar.

It is a school-related page where students and their parents will post comments and read information. Therefore, I require elementary school-appropriate language at all times.

IN THE CLASSROOM THIS WEEK & LAST

From the Editor

The tales of October continue for another week. I hope you enjoy our annual trek down haunted lane. It just so happens that I was so busy last week, I didn’t post the comics that came into the Classroom last week. So you get a double dose this week.

And now, to the comics:

Adventure Comics #3
Batgirl #3
Free Realms #2 (of 12)
G-Man #3 (of 4)
The Incredibles: City of Incredibles #1
Iron Man: Armor Wars #3 (of 4)
Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #16
Muppet Robin Hood
The Shield: America’s 1st Patriotic Comic Book Hero (org. pub. 1940)
Super Friends #20
Super Hero Squad #2

CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED: THE RAVEN AND OTHER POEMS



By Chris Wilson
Editor-in-Geek

Original Author: Edgar Allen Poe
Illustrator: Gaham Wilson
Publisher: Papercutz

Genre: Poetry
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 56
Color: Full color
ISBN-10: 978-1-59707-140-6


REVIEW
Poe is a masterful poet of the macabre and a book of his for elementary children might seem a bit overreaching. However, Wilson’s illustrations are composed of bug-eyed, creepy cartoons infused with a calming pastel wash, making his art queasy yet palatable to the young reader. It really is a nice dichotomy between horror and heart, and tones down the intense emotions and imagery of Poe for a younger crowd.

Interestingly, what we have presented in THE RAVEN AND OTHER POEMS is not comic litrature in its true sense. It is merely an illustrated picture book of poems. Not that there is anything wrong with that. I would offer it to my daughter and consider using it to talk about the difference between comics and picture books.

Still, there is no sequential art. What we have is a series of poems each presented with an often singular picture depicting an entire scene, rather than an art-infused work in which the illustrations demonstrate some element of time and are just as important as the text. Despite that fact, I enjoyed the book. I simply wish it was more … comicy.


AGE RECOMMENDATION
Chris’ Rating: Ages 10 and older
Publisher’s Recommendation: Ages 10 and older


BE AWARE
Gaham Wilson, the illustrator, has created work for magazines including Playboy. The publishers chose to mention that tidbit twice in a book geared toward children – a fact that I find disheartening considering the target audience.


IN THE CLASSROOM
Poems are important additions to our rich literary history, yet so many elementary teachers stick to female-oriented, flower and rainbow poetry in their classrooms. This undoubtedly alienates boys right off the bat. There is so much more to poetry than unicorns, baby birds, love and lilies. I would go as far as to claim that while I adore Shel Silverstein, there are many other poets who write for children that we should focus on. As teachers, we should explore other poets, free verse, concrete poems, poems about basketball, dragons, monsters, pizza, pimples, muscles, cars, and heroes. We should even consider death and pain. Poe knows those last two quite well. As a teacher who uses comics on a weekly basis, I find concrete poems an especially interesting form of poetry that is closely related to comics.


CHRIS’ RECOMMENDATION:
Not Recommended
Had the publishers insisted on a comic adaptation of the book, rather than a picture book, I quite likely would have highly recommended the book. Up to this point, I have never been disappointed in a Classics Illustrated publication by Papercutz.

The fact that they mentioned the men's magazine twice means I cannot recommend the book as is. I would have no problem using it in the classroom with a document camera, but I would not just hand the book over to kids with that title reference in it. The parents in my district would call the principal.

MAGIC TRIXIE



By Tracy Edmunds

Staff Writer

Author: Jill Thompson
Illustrator: Jill Thompson
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: Fantasy

Format: Softcover
Pages: 93
Color: Full color
ISBN-13: 978-0061170454


STORY SYNOPSIS
Magic Trixie has a problem; everyone loves her baby sister, Abby Cadabra, and no one is paying attention to Magic Trixie! On top of that, she has to come up with a “wow” for show and tell day at Monstersorri School to impress her friends; Loupe Garou, the sassy werewolf girl; Stitch Patch, the sweet Frankenstein’s monster; and Nefi, the beautiful mummy girl. When Magic Trixie finds a way to fix both problems at once, she learns that sometimes a change in attitude is the best remedy.


REVIEW
From the candy-hued watercolors, to the adorable characters, to the sweet and witty story, MAGIC TRIXIE is a delight all around. Magic Trixie herself is a very bright, mischievous bundle of energy with a knack for getting in trouble and her friends are cute, cuddly takes on classic monsters with personalities that could easily belong to real, live children. The adult characters feel so real that I wonder if Thompson modeled them on her own friends and family. Young readers will relate to the relationships and family dynamics in the story and laugh out loud at the craziness. Thompson’s watercolors are truly stunning; she’s a master at mixing words and pictures seamlessly into a compelling story. I can’t recommend MAGIC TRIXIE highly enough – it’s jumped straight into my top ten all-ages comics of all time.

Sarah (age 10, grade 6) says: MAGIC TRIXIE is really super, awesomely cute and funny and has a good story. I think Magic Trixie is kind of like a magical JUNIE B. JONES. Everybody would really like MAGIC TRIXIE because it’s funny and everyone will get it and the story is simple and easy to understand, and the art is bold, colorful, and very detailed.

Shelby (age 13, grade 8) says: This is probably the most colorful book I have ever seen in the world! All the art is watercolor and that is a really hard medium to use because you can’t fix anything if you mess up, but Jill is a master. Everything looks so realistic, yet it’s still cartoony and adorable beyond words. My friends will pretend it’s dumb because it’s cute, but I think everyone will like it, even if they won’t admit it.


AGE RECOMMENDATION
Tracy’s Rating: All Ages
Lexile: GN 420L
ATOS: 2.2
AR Quiz No.: 127281
Dewey: 741.5


IN THE CLASSROOM
Elementary-aged kids will relate to Magic Trixie’s antics, her relationships with her friends, and the sometimes complicated relationships in her family. MAGIC TRIXIE would be an excellent starting point for a social studies discussion of different types of families and relationships.

This is the first book in a series; MAGIC TRIXIE SLEEPS OVER and MAGIC TRIXIE AND THE DRAGON are equally as wonderful. For students (and teachers!) who fall in love with the character, Magic Trixie has her own blog.


BE AWARE
The theme of this book revolves around witches and monsters, in the cutest way possible. Though there is nothing frightening, some families may object to the themes.


TRACY’S RECOMMENDATION
Highly Recommended

Saturday, October 10, 2009

COMIC BOOK LITERACY DOCUMENTARY

By Tracy Edmunds
Staff Writer

Advocates for comics in education are about to get some great support from the world of independent film. A documentary about using comics in education is currently in production by independent filmmaker Todd Kent. Why a documentary about comics in education?

“Comics are a diverse, misunderstood medium that, for too long, have been the dirty little secret of the literary world. From the immigrant who learns English by reading Superman comics to the child who develops a love of literature from the X-Men, comics have kept America reading for decades with fantastic tales, well structured stories and amazing fantasies.”

The film features interviews with a host of comic creators and publishers including Paul Dini, Scott McCloud, Terry Moore, Art Spiegelman, Francoise Mouly, Gail Simone, and Joe Quesada. No release date has been scheduled yet, but Kent plans to submit the film to festivals and comic book conventions in 2010.

You can view the trailer for the film on the Comic Book Literacy YouTube Channel. The YouTube channel also features a video of kindergarten teacher Khindra Kent speaking about using comics in early childhood education. This short presentation is a great resource for teachers wanting to use comics with very young children.

THE MONSTER OF LAKE LOBO



By Chris Wilson
Editor-in-Geek

Author: Scott Nickel
Illustrator: Enrique Corts
Publisher: Stone Arch Books
Genre: Horror

Format: Hardcover
Pages: 40
Color: Full color
ISBN-13: 978-1-59889-836-1

REVIEW
There’s trouble brewing at Lake Lobo (which is Spanish for “wolf”) after all these years. The Legend, which we are privy to thanks to the intro, tells of a menacing shape-shifter sporting one green eye (and an eye of another color) who will stop at nothing to have the lake to itself.

THE MONSTER OF LAKE LOBO is a fast-paced adventure from the get-go. On the first page of the story, we see fear in Kevin’s eye, leading the reader two pages later to the climactic two-page, single-panel image where Kevin faces the great menace. Who is the mysterious monster – the one who (as legend tells it) is a friend by day and a carnivorous stalker by night? Who is his nemesis, the protector of the lake, the defender? How will young Kevin tell the difference?

It is perfect for young, struggling or inexperienced readers. The action and mystery are high, the reading level is for early grades (1-3) and the images create a spooky, scary setting thanks to most of the scenes occurring at night and the fact that the background behind the panels is black rather than white. For students looking for an age-appropriate monster book, THE MONSTER OF LAKE LOBO will satisfy.


AGE RECOMMENDATION
Chris’ Rating: Ages 8 and older
Publisher’s Reading Level: Grades 1-3
Publisher’s Interest Level: Grades 2-5
Guided Reading Level: K
Lexile: GN 420L
ATOS: 2.6
AR Quiz No.: 115410
Dewey: 741.5


IN THE CLASSROOM
Pay attention, kids. The clues are there, hidden in the art and text of the story. By the end, the kids should be able to make excellent predictions of who is the monster of Lake Lobo. They should also be able to support those predictions with specific examples from the story (page 12, panel 1; or perhaps page 14, panels 1-2).

This book is a great resource to practice those all-important reading skills (infer, predict, retell, connect, analyze, interpret) Because of the length, a teacher could easily read it aloud to the class using a document camera. I would suggest leaving it up so students could continue to refer to it. The students could easily work in small groups to discuss the five elements of fiction (character, setting, plot, theme, and style) as well as practice those reading skills listed above.


CHRIS’ RECOMMENDATION
Recommended

HANSEL AND GRETEL


By Kevin Hodgson
Staff Writer


STORY REVIEW
Do I really need to give a plot overview of this one? Better yet, let me explain why this story creeps me out. Ever since I was a young child who came across this tale in a Grimm Brothers Fairy Tale book on my parents' bookshelf, I have been spooked by the story of Hansel and Gretel. First, the two siblings clearly have lost their loving mom, only to be replaced by a cold-hearted stepmother (abandonment). Then, the stepmother hatches a plan with dear ol' dad to leave the kids out in the forest so that the grown-ups have enough to eat and not have to share with Hansel and Gretel (adults rule the world).

The kids hatch a plan to make it back home. It doesn't work (ineptitude). The wandering children stumble upon a house of sweetness, only to find themselves on the dinner menu for a witch disguised first as a kindly grandmother (powerlessness). Sure, the kids get even in the end (cooked witch, anyone?), but still ... each step of the way, I felt some part of my secure and safe childhood being toyed with in an evil way.

I always wondered: could this happen to me, too? How would I survive if I were left alone to my own devices? Which brings me to this graphic novel version of the classic tale and I can say that this Stone Arch version, adapted by Donald Lemke and illustrated by Sean Dietrich, is strange and odd and creepy in every way you would want the story to be. HANSEL AND GRETEL make good use of the graphic novel format as we see the fragility of the situation etched on the faces of the kids.


ART REVIEW
The artwork by San Dietrich really stands out here. He uses bold and dark colors throughout the book, giving the story an eerie glow of uncertainty. I was put off at first, and still am unsettled, by the huge eyeballs of Hansel and Gretel. They are like spinning globes on their faces, as if some Manga maniac went a little too wild with their pen set. But it has an emotional effect on the reader, which is to show the strange wonder of the situations on the faces of the children.

In contrast, the father and stepmother have almost rectangular eyes that represent cunning and evil. And the eyes of the half-blind witch? Hers are dead black – like pools of black ink in which there is no escape. The eyes in this version of the story tell a lot about character, which is fascinating to consider in the graphic novel format.


MORE INFORMATION
Format Paperback
Pages: 40
Publisher: Stone Arch Books
ISBN-13: 978-1434208637


IN THE CLASSROOM
Obviously, this book is a classic fairy tale, and this graphic novel would enhance any unit on fairy tales. As I mentioned in the art review, the use of colors and facial features really could spark an interesting conversation about the choices that an artist makes when trying to retell a classic story.

One huge bonus to the Stone Arch fairy tale collection is that in the back of the book, there is a nice overview of where and how the story originated (in this case, the Grimm Brothers may have heard the story of Hansel and Gretel from a woman named Henriette Dorothea Wild, Germany, in the 1800s). The book also features three discussion questions, three writing prompts and then urges readers to explore more about the story on their own. These additions are a nice touch for teachers and students using graphic novels in the classroom.


MY RECOMMENDATION
I would highly recommend this book for any upper elementary or younger middle school classroom. The story might not hold much interest with older readers and may be a bit too unsettling for very young readers. There is no inappropriate language or images.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

TEACHING NEW LITERACIES: RESOURCES FOR THE 21ST CENTURY CLASSROOMS


Two years ago I started working on a chapter for a textbook edited by Barbara Moss, PhD and Diane Lapp, EdD and published by Guilford Press. That rewarding process has turned into two chapters split between two textbooks. Naturally, my contribution to the books involves comic literature and provides actual research and lesson plans.


Teaching New Literacies in Grades K-3
November 2009
Paperback (also available in hardback)
ISBN: 978-1-60623-497-6

Teaching New Literacies in Grades 4-6
December 2009
Paperback (also available in hardback)
ISBN: 978-1-60623-501-0


Each book features more than 20 complete lesson plans, including practical activities and assessments. Comic literature, fiction, poetry, plays, information texts, web-based texts, hip-hop and other types of texts are examined. Clear explanations of the research base for instruction in each genre is also included.

Each book will cost $28; however, if you use the promotional code 2E when ordering, you will receive 15 percent off. By both and save $12. You can use the form below when ordering from Guilford Press.




My friend and comics scholar, Dr. Bucky Carter, is also a contributor. He is a great resource when it comes to comic literature. He wrote about editorial and political cartoons, which sounds fascinating.

MONSTER AND ME



By Chris Wilson
Editor-in-Geek

Author: Robert Marsh
Illustrator: Tom Percival
Publisher: Stone Arch Books
Genre: Fantasy

Format:
Hardcover
Pages: 40
Color: Full color
ISBN-13: 978-1-4342-1589-5


REVIEW
Little Gabby Gibbons wants nothing more than to show off her monster, Dwight, to the rest of the student body, but her mother will have none of it. So Gabby sneaks the hungry critter to school under the guise of being a new student so he can try out for the school play, A Christmas Carol. If he gets the part, then her mother will have to let Dwight come to school. He does and she does (and it all works out in the end) but not after Dwight tries to eat a few people and hack up gunk on the principal.

Outside the main plot there lies another story, the one where Gabby’s dad is always gone, always busy, always missing things important to her. Even he manages to make the play, albeit late, and is the first to clap.

MONSTER AND ME is a breezy read with some nice vocabulary to boot: blubbering, enrolled, equal rights, ghoul, growling, humbug, ovation, self-esteem, showbiz and whine. The books (like all the graphic novels from Stone Arch) sport a glossary with pronunciation guide, discussion questions and writing prompts. It even has a section telling the student how to draw his or her own monster.

MONSTER AND ME has a happy ending, one of the kinds with a pretty bow on top, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that our protagonist must deal with real life big kid problems, like an absent father. On that front, the book gives kids hope that there problems might just work out, too.


ART REVIEW
Tom Percival’s art is sketchy, rough, rugged – a compliment to the monster story. It has a 21st century, urban feel and is kid friendly without being childish.


AGE RECOMMENDATION
Chris’ Rating: Ages 7 and older
Publisher’s Reading Level: Grades 1-3
Publisher’s Interest Level: Grades 2-5

Guided Reading Level: K
Lexile: GN 240L
ATOS: 1.8
AR Quiz No.: 130881 Dewey: 741.5


BE AWARE
It has elements of kid humor. Gabby goes to school with the zipper of her jeans down and a bit of barfing on the part of Dwight the monster.


IN THE CLASSROOM
This early reader comic is great for little minds and little hands. The vocabulary offers substance without being overwhelming to the child. The story offers plenty of text-to connection opportunities and chances to talk about responsibility and choices.


CHRIS’ RECOMMENDATION:
Recommended

THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ



By Chris Wilson

Editor-in-Geek


Original Author: L. Frank Baum

Author: Eric Shanower

Illustrator: Skottie Young

Colors: Jean-Francois Beaulieu

Lettering: Jeff Eckleberry

Publisher: Marvel Comics


Genre: Traditional Literature in Comic Format

Format: Hardcover

Issues: Covering issues 1-8

Pages: 192

Color: Full color

ISBN-13: 978-0-7851-2921-9



REVIEW

I do not recall ever starting a review writing about the art, but I simply know of no other way to talk about Marvel’s THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ. It is because the art is so striking, so tantalizing, so incredibly harmonious with the story that it redefines the way I think of the cult favorite.


The movie has defined L. Frank Baum’s work for decades, searing its imagery and details into the consciousness of our culture. We think of OZ in terms of how the movie defined it, which is unfortunate if one knows the actual story. We all know that Dorothy’s slippers were supposed to be silver, but the movie has such a hold upon us that we really want the slippers to be ruby red and sparkling, don’t we? Be honest.


From the get-go, I was enthralled with Skottie Young’s artistic vision for this comic. Somehow his illustrations are so in line with the tone of the original novel that I find it possible to actually separate the story from the movie and view this book in terms of it’s own authenticity. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I was anxious and ready to see the story with a new eye. It is because of Young’s art that I came to a place where I was ready to do that.


Eric Shanower does his part, too, holding up his side of the bargain and he does not disappoint. His narrative takes Baum’s words and tone and allows us to hear and feel the original book. Shanower took care in this adaptation by giving us details that have – for most people anyway – been lost because of the celluloid translation. In fact, so many details were left out of the movie that many parts of this book give the reader new insight – new teeth – with which to chomp into this new-old story. From the green goggles worn in the Emerald City to Dorothy’s magic kiss, to the fact that Oz sees each of the four individually (and always in a different form), or the fact that the flying monkeys only did the Wicked Witch’s bidding because they were forced to, it is to the reader’s delight that the old story is fresh.


It is like no other comic adaptation of a traditional novel and I am excited and thankful to have it in my library and make it available to my students, who have, incidentally, been waiting in line for it.



AGE RECOMMENDATION

Chris’ Rating: Ages 9 and older

Publisher’s Rating: All Ages



IN THE CLASSROOM

It surely goes without saying that the movie version is so ingrained into American culture that nearly all children have seen it multiple times. A compare/contrast lesson between the comic and the movie would be all too easy and fun. Students could not only make text-to connections and discuss details found in both, that so many state standards could be met.


Older students could also compare/contrast the original book-comic-movie versions and talk about theme and style. Did Baum’s vision remain intact in the different adaptations? Give specific examples. If you were writing your own adaptation how would you do it: book, comic, poem, movie, music video, play, musical, interpretive dance? What details would you keep in your translation and what details would you leave out? Would you change anything? What would you change and why? The enthusiastic high school teacher could even allow students to create their own version.



OTHER INFORMATION

Marvel is continuing the OZ series with a comic adaptation of THE MARVELOUS LAND OF OZ. Shanower and Young will continue as the creative team bringing yet another Baum book to the 21st century reader.



CHRIS’ RECOMMENDATION:

Highly Recommended


IN THE CLASSROOM THIS WEEK

From the Editor


Creepy-crawly, sleepy, slimy, cold days of Halloween fast approach and while public schools cannot celebrate the costumed holiday, it is a great time to celebrate the scary stories that kids love. Just ask any librarian and they will tell you that the Goosebumps series (and other scary titles just like them) are hot commodities. By the way, Scholastic has adapted R.L Stine's books into comics.


In keeping with The Graphic Classroom tradition, we will feature several horror-mystery-monster-thriller themed comics all month long. Pull your blanket up around your neck, snuggle down safe and sound, and read yourself into a fright-filled frenzy.


Here are the comics that came into the classroom this month: