5 Graphic Novels we Loved!
1. Fairy Tale Comics edited by Chris Duffy
This is a collection of 17 of your favorite fairy tales. And along with your well known favorites like “Snow White” and “Goldilocks”, there are some unique finds too, like “The Prince and the Tortoise: from 1001 nights and “The Boy who drew cats”. What is unique about this collection is that each tale has been illustrated by 17 different artists who put their own unique “signature” on the tales. It is a delight to re-read your favorite and new tales in such a diversity of art in one single book. From Raina Telgemeier’s straight bold line comic art work to Brett Helquist’s more parchment colored art, this book is truly a very unique collection.
2. Odd Duck by Cecil Castellucci
We fell in love with the very predictable Theodora and her new quirky “odd” friend Chad. This is a story about friendship, impressions and acceptance.
The author/illustrator duo have created a charming story in a “graphic novel” format. Word balloons, clear pastel colors and strong lines with lots and lots of whimsical, quirky details makes this book very endearing! This tale has an age old theme of “be yourself”. The unique twist however comes when the “Odd Duck” seems to think that their world is quite normal while the others are somehow “different”. At the end, however, the “Odd Duck” realizes that being different, isn’t that bad after all..
3. Monster on the Hill by Rob Harrell
Do you want to read a fun, goofy and super silly tale about monsters? If you answered with a resounding “YES” then this is the book for you !! Rob Harrell’s Monster on the hill is not scary at all. While other monsters in their other hometowns are scaring people silly, Stoker-on-Avon’s monster is moaning and groaning and sulking all day long. Bottom line: Stoker-on-Avon’s monster sucked! Now its up to two very unusual partners to solve this monster’s problems and get him back on his feet.
4. Hereville series by Barry Deutsch
Hereville, a contemporary Orthodox Jewish community, is the home of an 11 year old girl, Mirka. But Mirka is a restless soul. Her wise stepmother tries to quiet her restless spirit by teaching her to knit. Mirka, however, has other ideas. A talking pig encounter takes Mirka on an extra ordinary journey that ends up with Mirka having to sword fight an alien for her life! So what’s so unique about this series? We loved reading about the traditional background of a restless modern 11 year old girl. Her emotional tug of war with her upbringing, customs and her desire to do the “unthinkable” (such as fight aliens and save the world). The author does a superb job of blending the unreal and the real while keeping everything on track. Can’t wait for more of Mirka!
5. El Deafo by Cece Bell
One day little Cece falls ill with meningitis. As she recovers, the family and Cece realize that she has lost her hearing. Over the next few months, Cece has to get multiple hearing tests and then ends up having to wear a hearing aid for her life. As little Cece slowly settles into her “new” regular life as an hearing impaired child, she struggles to blend in, make friends and find something special. And one day she realizes that she indeed has a super power. Something that makes her special.. her hearing aid picks up voices from far away. A talent that no one else poses. And thus “El Deafo” is born. We loved this tale for all the conversation starters it provides. A serious subject told with so much heart, a little bit of humor and with a lot of poise, this book is a MUST read for everyone!
Are graphic novels “real” books? Should they count towards reading?
Prejudices: I have come across this question many times. Some parents and educators believe that graphic novels are not serious books or should not be counted as good reads or encouraged. Schools do not allow graphic novels for book reports and other literacy based projects. However, graphic novels have come a long way. They are smart, mature reads. As you can see from above examples, the story telling is very unique and fresh. The format lends itself beautifully for girls and boys. Topics range from serious (El Deafo) to quirky (Mirka) to good old fun (Fairy tales).
Here are a few benefits to reading graphic novels:
Foster love for Reading: Graphic novels can be a great motivation for reading books. I know many kids tire from their regular reading and need a break. A graphic novel is a wonderful way to provide that break. It is a fun way to get reading done, diversify reading habits and work on reading longer too!
Story telling: The creativity that goes into building stories in this format is simply superb. Artists use so many different visual cues to send subtle messages to the readers. For example: Look at the picture below of Cece finally realizing that something was different. This single page is so powerful in the way it expresses the confusion and fear Cece feels. It is hard to imagine this being in any other format. Matt Phelan, a veteran graphic novel artist and store teller, explains it beautifully with his book “Bluffton”:
Struggling or reluctant readers: Graphic novels are dimply the best way to get reluctant readers excited about reading. It builds reading confidence and kids also end up reading longer!
What are your thoughts around graphic novels? Have you read one recently?
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