My friend Mary Lee at A Year of Reading has long been a fan of the graphic novel, and has been bugging me to give them a try. She even suggested many titles, and I've always been hesitant to read them. I guess I can't get past getting in trouble for reading Archie and Friends or MAD Magazine in school. You all remember when teachers didn't consider that "real" reading.
I guess I'm a product of my times, but just like stretching myself to read more fantasy since I took over as librarian, I knew that the genre wasn't going away, in fact it's growing like crazy. So, my sense of responsibility took over and I began reading the graphic novel reviews in School Library Journal. I found two so far that I like and will most likely be adding to our library. The question is how do I shelve them, in their own section, or with the other fiction. It's a question that I go back and forth on over and over. Any help you can give would be appreciated, what do you think?
The first is the beginning of a series called Knights of the Lunch Table: The Dodgeball Chronicles by Frank Cammuso. The title alone made this one appealing to me!
Artie King is the new kid in school and in order to fit in he makes some wild claims about his dodgeball skills which get he and his misfit friends into some trouble. The book is filled with King Arthur references, from a locker that can only be opened by the true of heart, to the name of the middle school, Camelot. Artie's favorite teacher that seems to be oh so wise and full of advice is Mr. Merlyn and the list goes on. It would make a fun classroom activity to challenge students to read King Arthur and see how many references they can come up with. I like the story line of this one, the new kid getting into trouble, struggling to fit in and the humor of this graphic novel actually had me laughing out loud in some places. I know kids are going to love this one, and I can't wait for the next in the series. Be sure to read the author intro at the end of the book, very funny.
The second graphic novel was totally different, Wild Ride: A Graphic Guide Adventure has a non-fiction aspect to it which I kind of liked. Wild Ride by Liam O'Donnell involves a group of kids in the wilderness. They are flying to meet their parents, environmentalists working to protect the wilds of British Columbia. Following a plane crash they are forced to survive in the wilderness. It is at this point that the non-fiction kicks in. Survival tips such as what to pack in a wilderness survival kit, basic first aid, how to use a signal mirror, and other safety tips are included. While stranded, the kids find themselves in the company of an unscrupulous government worker with plans to foil their parents' environmental studies in order to collect a bribe from the logging company. The illustrations by Mike Deas are darker than I like, giving the book a much more serious somber tone even though the author tries to add some humor. As I read, I was reminded of the Boys' Life magazines I used to read in which one of my favorite features was a comic about real life heroes. I see on Liam Donnell's website that the second Graphic Guide Adventure will be out shortly and involves skate boarding.
Well, Mary Lee, I've taken the plunge, keep sending me those graphic novel titles!