Friday, April 04, 2008

ALIA'S MISSION:SAVING THE BOOKS OF IRAQ

As you know, I am not much of a graphic novel reader. You are probably shocked that I am actually reviewing a graphic novel since Mary Lee is the blog expert on these! But I am trying. I have my favorites--To Dance, Babymouse, Jellaby. I just received a copy of ALIA'S MISSION by Mark Alan Stamaty and will add it to the list of graphic novels I am glad I read. It is the story of the library who saved the books of Basra. I have read the story before but I must say that the graphic novel form fits the story well. It is definitely a story that is better told with graphics and art together with text. The black and white illustrations add to the tone of the book and the history. The graphic novel tells the heroic story and the graphics do a great job of showing the emotions that went along with getting the books out of the library. It is a very powerful book and I am starting to see myself as a reader of graphic novels.

I am becoming more and more interested in this genre. (Mary Lee has helped me along with that.) As a teacher, I want my students to understand that graphic novels are more than Superheroes. I think that is why I am always so intrigued by these books on true and serious topics.

I think graphic novels provide a great "in" for kids who are reluctant readers. For years, all these kids had when choosing this format were comic books about superheroes or cartoon characters. Now, graphic readers can read a variety of genres and topics--and the number of these books for younger children are growing. That is all good news!

This is definitely one I'll add to my 3rd/4th classroom library. The topic of war is a hard one but it is well done. It probably isn't appropriate below 3rd grade and I can certainly see it being read through middle or high school. A great addition to any collection.

I am being more interested in using graphic novels in my classroom. After hearing speaker, Terry Thompson, I am going to work on collecting and using these in smarter ways. Terry Thompson is the author of the upcoming Stenhouse book for teachers, ADVENTURES IN GRAPHICA: USING COMICS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS TO TEACH COMPREHENSION 2-6 which will be out soon. He is brilliant and a huge resource for ways to use these books to support our students as readers. (I'll review the book as soon as I get a copy but this is to let you know that it will be a good one--especially for those of us who don't know where to begin with graphic novels.)

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