Graphic Novels- verdict two

Two weeks into my graphic novel challenge and I am so pleased that I took this on. My bag always has at least one in to keep me company along with whatever fiction book I am currently reading.

Verdict Two is – Graphic Novels pack an emotional punch just as any other book could.

What I am discovering throughout this challenge is that graphic novels have the same features as a fiction story in that they deal with hard and sometimes sensitive issues. Characters have challenges to face, whether through disability, fitting in, being new- much of what we see in full length chapter books and settings are uniquely important to the story in new ways.

In the three graphic novels for today, hope springs eternal though life is tough and unfair.

“This book is a true story. And also made up”. Words from author Vera Brosgol about the truth and inspiration for Be Prepared. Vera, the main character, has been desperate to make friends and attend a proper summer camp for a long time. When she is finally given the chance, she must face the honesty of camp. Sharing a cabin with mean girls, an unfortunate toilet facilities, critters everywhere. Torn between loving it and hating it, Vera must stick it out! This book is honest, funny and superbly illustrated. I was rooting for Vera throughout her summer camp experience, feeling as hurt and hopeful as she did. Brilliant book!

Cat and her family are moving to a new town that will help younger sister Maya with her breathing. Maya has Cystic Fibrosis. As they meet neighbours, explore the town and make friends, they learn the importance of Día De Los Muertos! The entire town welcomes the spirits of dead loved ones back every November. Cat feels more nervous than excited about ghosts being everywhere, while Maya is thrilled, even building an Ofrenda for their grandmother. Dealing with Maya’s illness, anger over ghosts and feeling worried takes its toll on Cat. Wonderfully told and Illustrated, this book is hopeful and heartwarming.

This book needs to be discussed in length and I hope to see it added to the curriculum in the future. In September, Ben Harris is taking this important book blether to twitter to focus on the brilliance of When Stars are Scattered. I am very excited to take part in that discussion. Told by Co-author, Omar, this is a true account of his life, of 15 years spent in Dadaab, the refugee camp in Kenya. Caring for his brother, attending school and always waiting for good news from the UN filled those years, along with hope of finding their mother. Truly inspirational, filled with hope and humour, this book packs a serious emotional punch and will no doubt open your eyes to the plight of refugees, their hardships and their lives. The message in the back written by Omar is beautiful and worth remembering.


Graphic Novels…verdict one!

I launched my own personal summer reading challenge last week, to spend the summer reading graphic novels. I had believed some wrong stereotypes about graphic novels and set myself the goal to read as many as possible to hone my knowledge, understanding and perceptions on this genre.

One week later and my first verdict is “How have I missed these gems for so long?”. I have read 10 graphic novels and have adored them all. Being a huge fan of picture books and Illustrated chapter books for the 7-9 age range, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise I would love Illustrated middle grade novels. Yet I was surprised as just how genius these books are.

Full of stunning and impressive art work,these books are set the challenge to tell a story with few words so the reader must learn to study the illustrations to fill in the blanks so to speak. This is where this genre truly shines as it takes an incredible talent to convey meaning in art and to have the story unfold frame to frame with little to no text.

Today I want to share three graphic novel adaptations of classic children’s literature. Though the story may be altered, it in no way detracts from the classic or from the adaptation. These could be read by children with little or no knowledge of the original. I would hope the child might be encouraged to read the classic as well as the graphic novel.

Growing up near to where Anne is from in Canada, it was hard not to fall in love with this classic story. Anne is a feisty, hot tempered red head and she is ever so dramatic! This adaptation captures Anne’s spirit and dramatics brilliantly, keeping certain favourite scenes and iconic statements within the pages of this book. I would recommend this to all school libraries,as an easy and accessible way to enjoy the antic and dramatics of a certain Miss Shirley!

I love the story of Little Women and am a huge fan of this modern retelling. The premise remains the same, the sisters are poor, Dad is away in the military and they have the usual arguments and antics of sisters living too closely together. The family has come together when Jo and Meg were younger and their parents fell in love. Beth and Amy are the siblings from that marriage. Mum works hard to provide for the family while Dad is in the Middle East. If you know the story then you can come to expect heartache and worry but also a firm love and loyalty between the siblings. There are some surprises that fit so well into the modern story and make a lot of sense.

Please do not get cross but I have to admit to not having read Tom’s Midnight Garden in its entirety. That may be my next challenge…

This adaptation is stunningly illustrated and features a secret garden when the old grandfather clock strikes thirteen. Tom, being sent to his Aunt and Uncle while brother, Peter, recovers from the measles, discovers the garden and makes a new friend Hatty. Each time Tom visits the garden, time has passed differently and he tries to leave clues for himself so he can share this with Peter. Asking plenty of questions but discovering few answers, leaves Tom bewildered. Before Tom leaves to go home, he is keen to discover what happened to Hatty!

GN I have read

  • Cici’s Journal
  • Tom’s Midnight Garden
  • InvestiGATORS
  • Ghosts
  • Roller Girl
  • Anne of Green Gables
  • Be Prepared
  • Amulet, Book One
  • The Inkberg Enigma
  • Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy


  • Best Friends
  • Real Friends
  • When Stars are Scattered
  • Cardboard
  • The Breakaways
  • Awkward
  • Donut the Destroyer
  • Ghostopolis
  • The Camping Trip

I have also discovered a website listing some new graphic novels to try. So this weekend I am spending time hunting down some different titles to test out!


My Own Summer Reading Challenge- Graphic Novels

Over the past ten weeks, the OU/UKLA have brought their book blether online to twitter and it has been an incredibly resource rich hour long chat about books. From illustrated chapter books, non fiction and teen fiction, there has been plenty to learn and much money spent.

One week was dedicated to Graphic Novels and my interest was truly peaked. I was aware of them, have a small range in some of my schools and my son is a fan of them but admittedly, I had never given them much more than a passing glance.

Stereotypically and wrongly, I thought they were more for fans of superheroes, comic lovers and that they didn’t hold much of a story. I knew I needed to invest some more time into this genre and actually read them, appreciate them and learn how they can be used in schools more effectively.

With the help of Richard Ruddick’s blog (comicsinclass.school.blog) and his Padlet of recommendations (https://padlet.com/rruddick9zra/73uh2srzpbia) as well as friend and colleague Sarah Merchant having a stock to let me borrow, I feel I am in with a chance to read a varied selection.

Each week I aim to read a couple and write a short piece about them. It isn’t meant to be a review but more of proof of a change in my thinking and perspective on this genre! Wish me luck, I am diving in!

My starting point!
  • Cici’s Journal, The Adventures of a Writer-In-Training by Joris Chamblain and Aurélie Neyret (Published by 01 First Second)
  • Roller Girl by Victoria Jameson (Published by Puffin)
  • Tom’s Midnight Garden (Graphic Adaptation) by Edith (Published by OUP)
  • InvestiGATORS by John Patrick Green (Published by 01 First Second/Macmillan)
  • Donut the Destroyer by Sarah Graley and Stef Purenins (Published by Scholastic)