We want to help create motivated and engaged young readers. This blog is about children's and YA literature (especially New Zealand), literacy research, and ways to get, and keep, kids reading.
Ray Bradbury works with artist Tim Hamilton to create this graphic novel. The novel is set in the future when “firemen” burn books (Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature at which book paper burns) forbidden by a totalitarian regime. The main character Montag is a fireman. When walking home one night a chance meeting with a neighbour challenges his thinking about his work. After his wife’s repeated suicide attempts Montag also questions the government’s policy of burning books. When the fire chief discovers his hidden books, he is forced to choose between personal safety and intellectual freedom.
The graphics full of dark, heavy black shadows effectively portray Montag’s bleak, oppressive world of censorship. They are an effective contrast with the vivid orange, red and yellow of the fires burning forbidden books.
This is a great crossover graphic novel for students who are reluctant to read a novel. It would also appeal to sci/fi readers.
review by Anthea
image by learning lark
Lesley Fairfield’s first graphic novel is inspired by her long struggle with and recovery from anorexia and bulemia.
Anna’s life, once happy and hopeful, is spiralling out of control under the weight of her eating disorder. The disease manifests in her head in the form of a demon called Tyranny, who promises to save Anna from the horror of becoming fat. Yet as she loses weight, (always a few pounds away from perfect), she also loses “school, time, income, relationships, health, writing, self, happiness, freedom, direction,” then finally she loses her (bulimic) friend Cynthia to a heart attack, which finalises her decision to get help.
This book is a quick read but it’s packed with different aspects of the struggle with eating disorders, and illustrates how long and difficult (but also how worthy) the road to recovery can be. The author, a survivor herself, tells the story in simple language with empathy and honesty, while managing not to preach. The illustrations are simple; black and white and very emotive.
I’d recommend this book to anyone from intermediate age up – possibly to coincide with a health unit on body image.
Review by Alison
image by ! Santiago Alvarez !
Manga is the Japanese word for comics and print cartoons. In their modern form, manga date from the 1950s, but have a long, complex history in earlier Japanese art. In Japan, manga are widely read by people of all ages, include a broad range of subjects and have steadily become an important part of the Japanese publishing industry.
Until recently my experience with manga has been in the realms of fiction, and rather superficial. Now I am discovering a whole new series that would have made a considerable difference to my secondary maths and science results!
No Starch Press based in San Francisco, have a growing list of Manga guides written to demystify areas of maths (including calculus, linear algebra and statistics) and science (including electricity, molecular biology, biochemistry and physics). Each book has an amusing storyline based on a character who is struggling to understand basic but tough maths or science concepts, and who is helped by a teacher or mentor figure.
These books are educational but also quirky, painless and practical, and would work both as an introduction to these areas of knowledge or to provide a useful refresher. And isn’t it a sign of the times that Nostarch Press are offering a free ebook with each print purchase?
review by Jan
image by blankdots
This autobiographical graphic novel is the story of book illustrator Small’s unusual childhood. He was bought up in Detroit in the 1950s in an unhappy home – his father was a workaholic radiologist and his mother was ill and unloving, prone to lengthy disgruntled silences, her life riddled with secrets.
Small was a sickly, sensitive child and his father treated him at home with enemas, medicines and large doses of radiation. This was ultimately to give him cancer, which necessitated surgery at the age of 11– his parents told him the tumour was just a cyst. The operation left him scarred and without a voice.
Small’s minimal line drawings succinctly describe this somewhat horrifying and black look at the story of his life. He manages to capture the whole cast of crazy relatives perfectly but without too much bitterness; the book ends with Small as a young man, finding success as an artist.
“Stitches’ is definitely a book for more mature readers – it has some fairly dark themes and characterisations. It is however wonderfully executed and a tribute to Small’s life as an illustrator.
Review by Suzanne
image by Roadsidepictures
Short listed for the Kura Pounamu awards in 2008, this te reo Maori book is in graphic format and retells the traditional story of how Te Wheke-a-Muturangi, the pet octopus of Muturangi, led Kupe and others across the Pacific ocean.
This is not just the basic myth but a detailed account of an important legend about the discovery of Aotearoa. The contemporary illustrations are designed to appeal to young readers.
The story also shows the links between Māori legends and natural phenomenon and place names links this with famous tupuna.
Reviewed by Alice
Flickr image by fox2mike
This fantastic book in “graphic novel” format tells the story of John Porokoru Pohe, a World War II pilot from Taihape who was captured and held prisoner at Stalag Luft III where he was part of the attempt to escape by digging tunnels ( “The Great Escape”). Although he and others did escape, John Pohe was one of the escapees who was recaptured and shot. You can read more here about John Pohe at the Auckland Museum website.
The book is published by Huia, and was written by Julian Arahanga, translated by Hareruia Aperahama, and illustrated by Andrew Burdan.
This graphic novel version has a ‘friendly’ anime style of illustration that won’t spook or scare children. Because of this yr 6 – 8 readers will find this classic of American children’s literature an easy and enjoyable read.
And there’s a bonus. Towards the back of the book under Tales Of Oz is information about the various ways the story has been told over the decades from movies to cartoons.
Flickr image by twm1340
Derek is a bizarre sheep, 12 years old in dog years, loves the colour green and eating grass, hotdogs and cheese spread sandwiches. And he is daft as a brush.Derek is a bizarre sheep, 12 years old in dog years, loves the colour green and eating grass, hotdogs and cheese spread sandwiches. And he is daft as a brush. He has a friend Lenny and numerous acquaintances including Cecil the bee, and they have some amazing adventures that will have you in tears of laughter.
Written in graphic novel style, the thirteen stories are brilliant snapshots of ordinary feelings and behaviours that somehow go wrong for Derek.
Originally a regular feature in The Beano comic, this collection will have the most reluctant of readers clamouring for more. Very suitable for all ages. These stories are just brilliant.
Reviewed by Bob
Published by Bloomsbury Children's Books (2008)
by Scott R. Welvaert,illustrated by Cynthia Martin and Keith Tucker. Published by Capstone Press 2006
A bright and breezy account of the life of Helen Keller, the blind and deaf woman, who became an advocate for the blind, written in graphic form. It is encouraging to see more non-fiction titles in this format as it gets reluctant readers(boys and girls)interested in reading titles they might not have contemplated reading before.
Contains other interesting facts about Helen, as well as a Glossary, Bibliography and Index.
Reviewed by Robin
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