Graphic novels and other graphic literature rock. According to Diamond Bookshelf (www.diamondbookshelf.com), young readers and viewers can gain some great rewards from graphic books. Some of these books explore complex personal issues, historical and current events, folklore and mythology, legends, science topics, and cultural diversity. As far as language skills go, the artwork in graphic books helps readers understand the written text by searching the illustrations for clues to textual details. Graphic books are particularly helpful for kids who are struggling readers because their confidence and reading skills are supported with attractive visual clues and visual storylines. And, guess what? Graphic books are fun to read.
Snails Are Just My Speed by Kevin McCloskey~ Snails and slugs are given the spotlight in this spot on entertaining introduction to the habits and characteristics of these fascinating critters. McCloskey explores what they eat and what eats them, how they use mucus to set a course for themselves and find their way, their sizes, and their reproduction methods. Add some attractive grossness and a lot of humor about snails’ behaviors and you’ve got a perfect balance of fact and attraction for young readers and observers. Full-color art in smooth-flowing panels makes the entire experience easy to follow and enjoy. McCloskey’s Giggle and Learn series also includes We Dig Worms and Something’s Fishy. Ages 4-7.
Sparks by Ian Boothby, illustrated by Nina Matsumoto~ Two cats—Charlie and August— disguise themselves as a superhero mechanical dog in a zany science fiction story that combines fast-action sequences with a good mix of suspense and adventure. The cats’ heroic deeds in their dog disguise are many, but their most fearless is their confrontation with an extraterrestrial who wants to control all the animals on the planet. Will August be able to overcome his fear of the outdoors and take on the fearless intruder? Ages 7-10.
Benny and Penny in Lost and Found by Geoffrey Hayes~ Uh, oh. Mouse Benny has lost his favorite hat. If that isn’t bad enough, his mother has made him leave home because he’s sulking. When he decides to run away and search for the hat, he asks his sister Penny to help. He insists on taking charge on their journey, but he and Penny get lost. Once Benny calms down with his sister’s counseling, they’re able to find their way back home. Kids could make a map of the places Benny and Penny visit on their journey. As with other graphic novels in the Benny and Penny series, Hayes explores kids’ fluctuating moods and emotions and ways to solve problems and take responsibility for one’s actions. The cartoon artwork is delightfully animated. Simple repeating words help emerging readers follow along and begin to recognize key vocabulary words. Benny and Penny also appear in Benny and Penny in Lights Out, Benny and Penny in the Toy Breaker, Benny and Penny in Big No-No, and Benny and Penny in How to Say Goodbye. Ages 4-8.
Stinky by Eleanor Davis~ When a boy settles into swamp monster Stinky’s domain, Stinky tries to scare the kid off. After all, thinks Stinky, kids are different. They like to take baths and eat weird food. When Stinky and the boy finally meet, they each know they like having a new friend. The theme of this amusing tale can get kids thinking about making friends with someone who at first may seem different from themselves. Help kids retell the story by following the movement of the panels and repeating some of the simple words. Ages 5-7.
Fairy Tale Comics: Classic Tales Told by Extraordinary Cartoonists by Gilbert Hernandez and Various Artists~ Seventeen fairy tales adapted and illustrated by nineteen different cartoonists. There are classic familiar tales such as “Snow White,” “Goldilocks,” “The Three Bears,” and “Hansel and Gretel.” There also are lesser known tales such as “The Boy Who Drew Cats,” and “Give Me the Shudders.” Various art mediums and styles and surprising settings (“The Bremen Town Musicians” entertains with a Wild West setting) give the adaptations a freshness, while others—“The Prince and the Tortoise” and “The Twelves Dancing Princesses”— remain close to a classical style. All the tales are a perfect fit for drawing kids into the reading experience with expressive read aloud. Support your kids’ comprehension by encouraging them to predict story incidents after examining details in the panels. Other great books in the series include Fable Comics and Nursery Rhyme Comics. Ages 8 & up.