Sunday, July 31, 2011

Lunch Money and Elementary Comic Con

How could I forget to post about Lunch Money?!? A parent recently commented on my day at the beach post via Facebook and mentioned that her son enjoys the authors I had read: Dan Gutman and Andrew Clements. So I replied with a bunch of other titles by those authors that I have read this summer. But I forgot to mention Lunch Money. Lunch Money is a story about creativity, entrepreneurial spirit, and a friendly (well, not exactly) neighborhood rivalry between the two main characters Greg Kenton and Maura Shaw. And, as it seems in all or most of Clement's books, there is also an element of students bucking the conformist school system, in this case the students are selling mini comic books of their own design and creation at school and they are banned from doing so. In working together, they come up with a way to continue. The book included a diagram for creating your own mini comic book and I'm interested to try it out. Without giving too much away, I'm interested in seeing if students in the school would want to learn to create their own mini comics, similar to Greg and Maura's in the book. Either as a project option or as a free choice activity in the library, I think this idea has a lot of possibilities.

Lunch Money also addresses an important point about "appropriate" comics for school. As graphic novels pick up speed and young readers, I think it is incredibly important that we embrace this form of reading and look at all of its artistic merits. Graphic Novels offer a beautiful art form, one that many reluctant readers embrace. And not so reluctant readers, for that matter. And they're not always "easy" reading. So, a few of my favorite graphic novels for school libraries (in no particular order, since they are all pretty awesome):
1) Lunch Lady
2) Baby Mouse
3) Squish
4) The Knights of the Lunch Table
5) Frankie Pickle

In the spring, our book club skyped with Jennifer Holm, co-author of Babymouse. We talked to her primarily about her books Penny from Heaven and Turtle in Paradise, but she shared with us about Babymouse and Squish as well.

This past Friday, at Doylestown Book Shop's Children's Book Festival, I had the opportunity to meet and hear a bunch of great children's authors and illustrators from around the Philadelphia area. The books I wanted to check out most were from the Frankie Pickle series. I was able to listen to author and illustrator, Eric Wight, talk about the character and his use of traditional chapter book formatting for "real world" mixed with a comic/graphic novel layout to show events that are happening in Frankie's imagination. I was floored by this combination! The best of both world! And (don't tell the kids) the content is educational and/or has lessons embedded. Score!

Like the principal in Lunch Money, don't discount the positive power of a great graphic novel!

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