A recent order from Amazon brought a batch of Graphic texts. The comic format continues to be a strong and vital medium to tell both imagined and real stories.  For this posting, it is worth repeating two previously mentioned entries that are graphic adaptations of iconic texts: The Diary of Anne Frank and To Kill A Mockingbird. Also, two of the titles below wouldn’t be classified as graphic, but they are heavily illustrated so I am including the in this posting. 


BE PREPARED by Vera Brosgol

The story of a young girl. A young Russian girl. A Russian girl who goes to a camp in the U.S. for Russian Youth.  Told in graphic format. Based on author’s personal experiences.  Quality  graphic illustrations presented in monographic olive green formatting. An engaging story that takes readers into summer camp life and the tribulations of staying positive despite some primitive conditions and loneliness. A stronger edit would have helped clarify some narrative gaps at times.


THE UNWANTED: Stories of Syrian Refugees by Don Brown

In 2011, a flood of refugees  escape from their country which is under the tyrannical rule of Bahar al-Assid.  Dan Brown’s stark images and clear exposition present a powerful example of non-fiction graphic text, helping readers to understand the chaos and turmoil and resentment that the ‘unwanted’ encountered as Syrian refugees spread throughout Europe.

NOTE: Text to text connection: Nowhere Boy a novel by Katherine Marsh, tells the story of a young adolescent Syrian who is forced to hide in the wine cellar of a house in Brussels and provides readers with a strong narrative about one boy’s refugee experience)


HEY, KIDDO by Jarret J. Krosoczka

The subtitle of this book provides an efficient summary to this powerful graphic autobiography: “How I lost my mother, found my father, and dealt with family addiction.”

Kroosoczka is a popular author/ illustrator (Lunch Lady graphic novels, Platypus Police) and in this memoir, he takes readers an on journey about growing up in a family grappling with addiction and pays tribute to the people who supported him and helped him survive and helped him to grow into a talented artist. It is worth watching Jared J. Kroscoczka’s TED Talk which gives voice to many events outlined in Hey, Kiddo.


TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD  by Harper Lee / Graphic adapted and illustrated by Fred Fordham for a graphic novel version

Fordham has faithfully used Harper Lee’s words and conversations and story events in this graphic novel version of the iconic story. Having recently seen theatre productions of the at the Stratford Festival and on Broadway, I decided to spend time with this book, which still resonates for today’s generation. And will continue to be taught and taught in schools.


THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK: Graphic Adaption by Ari Folman; illustrations by David Polonksy

I approached this publication with some trepidation, believing that iconic The Diary of Anne Frank be left untouched, because it is iconic and because it’s authenticity shouldn’t really be tampered with. More people are familiar with Nazi Germany with this book, more than any other. This version was an extremely powerful read, faithful to the beloved book. The visual images are often quite staggering, extending the feelings, moods and questions of a young adolescent girl. Expressions and gestures and musings of the characters along with the cramped attic quarter setting and war-torn landscapes are artfully captured. The graphic adds further interpretation and clarity to Anne’s narrative. Portions of the original text are retained throughout.


DOG MAN: BRAWL OF THE WILD (series) by Dav Pilkey

Do yourself a favour and read a Dog Man book and you’ll know why a billion kids love Dav Pilkey.   He’s funny. The colourful, zazzy graphic format definitely appeals. Repeating the punchline to several jokes as ‘diarrhea’, is bound to get giggles.



Prince Sebastian loves to wear fabulous  dresses and does so both secretly and in disguise. When Frances, the talented dressmaker comes into the Prince’s life and becomes his personal designer, the pursuit of dreams (for both characters) meets its challenges – and truths. Will Sebastian be trapped into marriage? Will Frances reveal Sebastian’s secret and give up her quest to be famous?  An entertaining fairy tale of a Prince. Charming!



A VELOCITY OF BEING: Letters to a Young Reader, edited by Maria Popova & Claudia Bedrick (non-fiction)

 In the introduction to this collection, the editors explain that they “reached out to many people to write a short letter to the young readers of today and tomorrow about how reading sculpted their character and their destiny”.  Adam Gopnik, Daniel Handler, Jane Goodall, Yo-Yo Ma, Jacqueline Woodson and Neil Gaiman are examples the 125+  voices that provided inspiration for the benefits of reading. . Each letter was paired with an illustrator, artist or graphic designer to visually bring its message to life (e.g., Peter Brown, Roz Chast, Maria Kalman, Mo Willems, Marianne Dubuc). 


WHAT THE NIGHT SINGS by Vesper Stamper (a novel)

The Nazi’s have destroyed everything in Gerta’s life. Liberated from the concentration camps, the teenager must find strength to move forward. Falling in love, re-gaining her talent for music, and making choices about a future life as a Jewish presents many questions and many choices for Gerta as a displaced person. Lushly illustrated throughout by the author.


SHOUT OUT: Larry has a new book!!!

WORD BY WORD by Larry Swartz

101 ways to inspire and engage students by building vocabulary, improving spelling and enriching reading, writing and learning.