Sunday, March 11, 2012

Graphic novels for new readers: new from TOON Books (ages 4 - 9)

Students at my school love graphic novels. I've said it again and again. They are drawn to this visual storytelling. Do you have a new reader, or maybe a reluctant reader who loves comics? loves to laugh? loves visual humor? Steer them toward TOON Books - you'll find books for a range of new readers, from just beginning to more advanced. I love their two newest books, and am excited to share them with my students.
Chick & Chickie Play All Day!
by Claude Ponti
NY: TOON Books / Candlewick, 2012
Level 1 (grades K-1)
ages 4 - 7
available at your local library, favorite bookstore or on Amazon
“What do you want to play?” Chick asks his friend Chickie, as they start this giggle-inducing comic book for beginning readers. With simple dialog and clear design features, this Level 1 TOON Book will engage new readers with its humor and surprises. Chick and Chickie start by making silly, frightening masks, startling each other with a big, loud "BOO!"

"That was me!" says Chick. "Oh! That's funny, Chick!" replies Chickie. And then she mischievously puts on her own mask and startles Chick with her own mask. Next, Chick and Chickie decide to play school with a giant letter A, tickling it, throwing it and bringing it cake.

New readers will enjoy reading this again and again, noticing details layered within the illustrations and the humor. The illustrations of Chick and Chickie’s emotions are particularly noteworthy, reminding me in a way of Mo Willem's Elephant and Piggie series. These cues are so important for new readers, helping them read the dialog with expression and meaning. The short sentences, easy sight words, large font size and use of dialog bubbles makes this book perfect for brand-new readers in kindergarten or 1st grade.

Zig and Wikki in the Cow
by Nadja Speigelman
illustrated by Trade Loeffler
NY: TOON Books / Candlewick, 2012
Level 3 (grades 1 - 3)
ages 6 - 9
available at your local library, favorite bookstore or on Amazon
As Zig and his computer buddy Wikki zoom toward their home planet after our last encounter with them (Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework), they realize that something is wrong with Zig’s new pet fly. Zig thinks maybe he’s homesick, but Wikki realizes that the fly might need to live in his natural habitat on Earth. So they head back to the cow pasture where they found the fly, and find out that Zig's fly loves to eat cow poop!

Most 2nd graders I know, girls or boys, will find this the perfect combination of funny and interesting. Spiegelman and Loeffler pull in new readers with gross details (cow patties!) and interesting animals (dug beetles!). They keep the story moving at a good pace, traveling from alien spaceship to the farm ecosystem, from cow patties to the inside of the cow’s digestive track (the cow burps up the spaceship!).

The clear lettering, simple panel progression and straightforward dialog make this successfully targeted for level 3 beginner readers. The factual pieces are clearly written but strive to communicate complex processes, perhaps leading some beginning readers to skip over those sections as they enjoy the humor of the story. But the students in our 2nd and 3rd grade who've read this just enjoy the humor and want to keep reading. That's the sort of story I like to put in as many hands as I can!

The review copy was kindly sent by the publishers, Candlewick Press / TOON Books. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

Review ©2012 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

1 comment:

  1. How fun! Young readers DO love graphic novels, and there's not a lot for them to choose from. These look like they fit the bill!