We must make kids want to read before we can make them read what we want. Jacquelyn McTaggart. Graphic Novels, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Teaching Visual Literacy. Nancy Frey and Douglas Fisher, Editors.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Comics in the Periodic Table of Elements

Go the the Periodic Table of Comic Books. This is a really fun site for those who really want to enjoy the Elements. It's a great way to get the connection between the elements and superheros.

The following is the famous Periodic Table song. The kids love it. There are many adaptations of the song. This is not the only one.

This is the Original version by Tom Lehrer. It's a fun sing along. After he wrote this there have been discoveries of a few more elements.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

War Stories: A Graphic History

My husband came across the book at the library and brought it home. It's not for kids, but teenagers and above who are avid comic fans will find it a treasure chest of art and information. It includes seven chronological chapters: Historical Hostilities; American Blood, American Soil; World War I; World War II; Britain Goes to War; Korean and Vietnam Wars; and Modern Day Conflicts. This is a comprehensive look at the nature of comics and historical events. It has a comprehensive index of both artistic credits and historical content. It includes pirates, the American West, and Iraq. This is a trade paperback published in 2009 by Collins Design an imprint of HarperCollins Publishing. Look at the Browse Inside feature of their website to see examples of this fine work.

The author, Mike Conroy, is a well known comic journalist and historian. He is the news editor of the U.K.-based trade paper Comics International, and the founder of the Eagle Awards, one of the comics industries major international prizes. His previous books are 500 Great Comic Book Action Heroes and 500 Comic Book Villians.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

All Ages Manga: Legend of Zelda Vol 9

On Feb. 2, 2010 the 9th volume in the series, A Link to the Past, was released. The author of the Legend of Zelda series is Akira Himekawa. The name is a pseudonym for two manga-ka, A. Honda and S. Nagano, who together have created the series based on the highly popular Legend of Zelda Nintendo game. The series first began publication in the US in 2008 and is not an exact replica of the game. As the series grew the authors seemed to focus on the personalities, thoughts, and history of characters.

A young man with swashbuckling swordsmanship, Link, is involved with Princess Zelda, ruler of the kingdom of Hyrule. Himekawa brought to young readers fast-paced swords and sorcery action with all the artistic flare of traditional manga in 200 pages. The Legend of Zelda is published by Viz Kids. These are appropriate for the young reader and are only available in paperback. The appeal may be more for young women who enjoy romantic fantasy. For those young female reluctant reader manga fans this might be just the series to get them interested in reading.

Monday, February 1, 2010

uclick: Good but Expensive Comic iPhone Apps

The publisher uclick has many graphic novel apps. Be aware that some of the apps are just for one chapter, therefore, making the total book as expensive as the physical book. Some are for the graphic novels loved for ages 8-12, for example, Bone. Each panel is in excellent full color, slide page turn, and very easy to read. However, you do not get a look at the total vertical page and you end up with 6 or 7 icons on your iPhone representing each chapter. In a pinch it is easier especially when traveling than dragging around the physical book.

They also have the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and Ghostbusters. Many are $0.99 per chapter, but some are the full issue. Read carefully before you download. Chapter by chapter takes up a lot of app space. When your iPhone apps are on page 11 as is mine, you have to really want the book to allow it to take up your precious space.

You can get Manga on the Kindle for the iphone through Amazon.com, but it is also expensive and not that easy to read. Download the first chapter or so for free just to see how it works. It's tricky to zoom in to make the print readable. If the young ones have to have Manga, the get light Manga such as the Oz series available on iverse. The horizontal display makes it easy to read. For those who want serious Manga, there are companies such as Digital Media Productions working on making Manga displays easier to read on the iPhone, but right now it's a work in progress.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Two More Comic iPhone Apps: Sadly No DC

As I started looking at comic apps I began to realize there were no Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, or Justice League comics. DC comics is not on the bandwagon for the iPhone apps. Hopefully, as these apps become more popular, DC will jump aboard. I can hardly wait. Right now I think the companies are just trying to figure out the best format for their brand.

Comic Zeal is rated with 3 & 1/2 stars and cost $3.99. It has two categories in their library, Flashback Universe and the Golden Age of Comics. The golden age are comics that are in public domain from 1930 to 1960. There are many free ones, but you can also connect online to get more. However, you must be connected to WiFi to do so. The reader was difficult to use, however, Comic Zeal, has a cool feature. You can easily save a page to your photo album.

Panelfly is free and rated with 3 stars. I found it to be very slow loading. When I did try to load, I got a message saying I was trying to load a deleted issue. When I came back the next day, it was loaded. It does not work well on the 3g network. Works much better with WiFi. They do have some free samples. Some of the free samples just give you the first chapter then you have to pay for each remaining chapter. Most range from $0.99 to $1.99, however I found some for $6.99 and another for $9.99. The price is not listed on the graphic novels until you go to buy one. The app lists featured, top tens, and genres. You can also search. The reader is easy to use. Just tap for zooming in, move around the page, and slide to the next page. You can also view all the pages at once. Panelfly is working on a little different app for the ipad.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Top iPhone Comic Apps

I was a little reluctant to have the youngsters use my iPhone, but my grandchildren, ages 7 & 5, love it. The main rule is they have to stay sitting down when they use it. The unspoken rule is I am either sitting with them or in the same room or place keeping an eye on them. I don't want them in my email or making phone calls. As long as you don't give your child your iTunes password, you have control over what the child can read. It's handy for a break when they get bored on a long trip or just need some quiet time. There are beginning to be some good book apps for kids also which they loved but not as many high quality books as I would like. My absolute favorite iPhone book is How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It has a Read to Me and a Read it Myself section. It's beautifully presented and a model for others adapting books for the iPhone. Using the iPhone for children's reading is just as handy as any adult e-reader. You don't have to carry tons of books around. Comic reading is one available alternative at little cost.

Archie Comics
Archie Comics for free is the best comic iPhone app that I could find for young children. There also are a couple of paid Archie series also by Iverse. The free version is rated with 2 & 1/2 stars. The paid ones get higher ratings one even getting 4 & 1/2 stars. There are no hacker/slash comics on the free version. They have Archie, Sabrina-Manga, Betty and Veronica, Young Salem, and Jughead. You get four free titles. After that its between $0.99 to $1.99. Iverse uses a format that can be either vertical or horizontal depending on the rotation of your iPhone. It's difficult to read in the vertical format but having both layouts is important to get the feeling for the flow of the panels. I found the reader very easy to use.

If you have children who are into superheros and you want a lot more variety, go to Iverse. The app itself is free, has a new release section, top paid, and top free. Many of the Archie and his friends series are also here. It has 2 & 1/2 stars and both the vertical and horizontal layout for easy reading. This is a big site. It also has the the usual hardcore horror, fantasy, sci-fi, Manga, and romance genres. It also has the all ages genre which includes Archie, Oz, Sabrina, the New Alice in Wonderland etc. The Marvel titles, such as spiderman, X-Men, Captain America, and Iron Man are in the superhero genre. If you pick a paid comic, the prices range from $0.99 to $1.99. Remember you have control of what they read because you have the iTunes password.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Classic Fairy Tales in Comic Format

The classic tales have been told in a charming and bit unusual format by the publisher Stone Arch Books in the Graphic Spin collection. The interest level is age 3 to 8 and the reading level is grade 1-3 with 40 pages. Most the goodies that teachers have often used in the classroom are here. Rapunzel, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Hansel and Gretel, Sleeping Beauty, Three Little Pigs, Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, and my two favorite tales, Rumpelstiltskin and Jack and the Beanstalk are in the first collection. They are a little dark in the "Grimm" style, but the main characters stand out. The art work is highly stylized, but appealing. Recently they have come out with the Emperor's New Clothes, The Ugly Duckling, and a couple of others. The art work seems a little lighter in the new additions. All the tales have a lexile score ranging from the early 300's to about 410 and are all available in library bound editions.

In many schools where students have emmigrated from South America, East Indian, Asian, or African countries these Germanic tales may be new to the students. Teachers often use the classic tales to build a commonality in the the classroom community as the ideas may be used to reflect the common good within the classroom, the school, and the community. Today that would be considered character education. Actually each of these have a character education theme. Red Riding Hood is "Trustworthiness" and Hansel and Gretel is "Caring". I do not necessarily agree with the theme assigned to the books by Stone Arch, but the students can decide for themselves as the story unfolds.

Teachers or home schoolers may read and explore five classic versions of Jack and the Beanstalk, so you may want to save these fairy tale graphic novels for students to explore on their own. By the time the boys are in second grade they often balk at Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty as they are considered these to be "girl" books. However, they would enjoy Rumpelstiltskin or get a good laugh at the stylized wolf in the Three Pigs. Librarians, even with the budget cuts in libraries, I would still take a chance on a few of these and see if the students, especially those reluctant readers, embrace them.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Charm of Owly for the Pre-Reader

If you are are interested in the comic format for the youngest pre-reader, ages 4-6, take at look at Owly by Andy Runton. On his website you can see limited previews of some of the books. The first Owly book came out in about 2004. The Owly series is almost wordless, but can be used to introduce visual literacy, oral language, and directionality to the youngest of readers.
Use shared reading between a parent, older sibling, or preschool teacher and the child. The
Owly series are snuggle up and read together books. Share your thoughts aloud with the child and have the child do the same as you go through each panel. Shared reading helps develop phonology, fluency, content, and comprehension. Shared reading is also great for learners with diverse backgrounds. Owly was the winner of the 2006 Eisner Award for "Best Publication For A Younger Audience".

The characters could be described as "sweet" with human characteristics. The theme is often friendship, love, or overcoming obstacles. The series is published by Top Shelf and is available in hardbound or paperback but not library bound. The books are in black and white and usually have about 160 pages which is a lot for a pre-reader. For those youngsters with a limited attention span, it would be best to read the series in stages. The fifth book in the series was published in 2009 and is Owly Tiny Tales.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Amulet is a new series by Kazu Kibuishi. Kibuishi has credentials as his book Daisy Kutter: The Last Train won the American Library Associations Best Book Award for Young Adults. He continues in the tradition with Amulet: The Stonekeeper and now just released in September 2009, book 2, The Stonekeepers Curse. However the Amulet books are for young readers ages 8 and up. The main characters are a brother, sister, and mom along with the robot rabbit who join the struggle between good and evil. Amulet: The Stonekeeper was nominated for a 2009 Eisner Award for Best Kids Publication. The Eisner award is considered to be the Oscar of the comic world.

The books are in the comic format somewhat in the manga style, but with Lemony Snicket overtones in the story. The art is in color and read from front to back. The first book started immediately with the death of the children's father which may be a little harsh for younger readers. They find a spooky place to live and the adventures begin. There is a future book 3 in the planning stage. Amulet is published by Graphix which is an imprint of Scholastic. These are available in paperback and hardbound, but not library bound. Scholastic is known by librarians for poor quality binding on their hardbound books, Harry Potter, being the utmost example. If you are interested, you would be just as well to try paperback. Surprisingly, the Bone series also by Graphix is produced in fairly sturdy form in paperback.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Jeff Kinney's Wimpy Kid: Great Crossover Books

On October 12th the 4th in the Wimpy Kid series came out, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dog Days. These books are a series of cartoons and writing which make them a great crossover book for kids who are not ready to give up the comic format or the older reluctant reader. The stories are funny and the hero is a somewhat typical kid. This book is already on the best seller list. The series is best for 3rd graders and up. Amulet books has a website for parents, teachers, or librarians with more information.

Kinney's first book Diary of a Wimpy Kid was published in 2007 with a Lexile score of 950L. The books are published by Amulet an imprint of Abramsbooks. They are available in hardbound format and have 224 pages. The first two in the series are available from Bound to Stay Bound. These books will never stay on the shelves so take advantage of being able to get them library bound from BTSB. For $16.95 the American Library Association has a poster of the Wimpy Kid to encourage reading.

The Father of Manga: Astro Boy

Be prepared for more of a push for comic reading by students as Astro Boy hits the silver screen on Oct 23rd. Astro Boy was originally published in 1952 in Japan by Osamu Tezuka. In Japan Astro Boy is called Mighty Atom. He was very popular in Japan and became more popular as he was seen later on in the 1980's on TV in the states. To my knowledge this is the first Astro Boy movie in the states. For more information look in the categories on this blog under Astro Boy.

For information on the books including the history see Rocketing Back to Fame: Astro Boy in the School Library Journal. This article discusses the unique history and availability of the books. All the books however are in paperback. The original Astro Boy was in black and white.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Comic Format for Emerging Readers

More publishers are coming out with books in comic format for those readers from age 4 to 8. Art Spiegleman has come out with Jack in the Box from Toon. Toon is an imprint of Raw Junior LLC. In 1992 Art Spiegleman won a Pulitzer Prize Special Award for Maus: a Survivors Story. Maus is often used in high schools to study the Holocaust, but Maus is an example of the quality of the Toon books. Stinky by Eleanor Davis is a 2009 Theodor Seuss Geisel honor award book from Toon. The Geisel Award is given annually by the American Library Association to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished American book for beginning readers published in English in the United States during the preceding year. Of course, the reviews for Stinky are top notch for both the story and art work. The toon books are on the online reader and the website has lesson plans. Students can be read to or they can read it themselves. The books can be purchased as hardbound or paperback, but not library bound. Jack in the Box had mixed reviews, so use the online reader to take a look before you buy.

Ninja Baseball

Manga for those from 7 to 12 is the goal of Udon Kids publishing. They started publishing in 2009. Basically they have four genres: Adventure, Sports (Baseball), Fantasy, and Science Fiction. Three of the series seem to be directly aimed at girls. They have a preview of each of the series on their website. The stories are in black and white and must be read from back to front as traditional Manga. These are translated from Japanese titles, so they have 200 pages. Characters have the traditional big eyes and typical manga energy. These are all in paperback which makes them a challenge for use in libraries, but not impossible.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Big Cheese: Geronimo Stilton

Papercutz, an imprint of Macmillan Publishing for tweens 8-14, launched in the Spring of 2005 with the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew graphic novels is now coming out with graphic novels of Geronimo Stilton. These can be hardbound, but they are not library bound as of yet. There are three of these available: #1, the Discovery of America; #2 the Secret of the Sphinx, and #3 the Coliseum Con. If you are not sure you are interested, checkout this preview of the Secret of the Sphinx. By the way Spotlight is still publishing some of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew in library editions, but they do not have all produced by Papercutz.

The original Geronimo Stilton books are chapter books
. Attack of the Bandit Cats has a Lexile score of 570L. You can search for the score for each book. They were originally published in Italy and have been translated into 35 languages. In 2004 they finally became available in the United States. Each book is a fast, good read and is an excellent crossover adventure book for students ready to jump from graphic novels to chapter books. Many pages have a comic on it making the book feel familiar to those not yet used to reading chapter books. Geronimo Stilton is the main character who is the editor of a newspaper and time traveler who has to keep his arch enemy (a cat of course) from changing history. Bound to Stay bound has 35 volumes of Geronimo Stilton books available. It's best to get these in library bound (BSTB) as these books will be taking a lot of wear and tear. Read some chapters aloud and the books will fly off the shelves. There are many cheese jokes in these so a cheese tasting would be a great introduction.

In Italy the classic tales such as Robin Hood are included in the collection. However, they have not yet been translated into English as of this date.