This one goes out to the one I love, Sophia. Sophia is my reluctant reader; although I say that with a big grain of salt. She has a hereditary convergence problem with her eyes, so small text is killer on her. Reading a book like, say, A Wrinkle in Time, is pure torture because the text is so small.
Not too long ago, however, we discovered graphic novels. [Cue chorus] It was as if the heavens opened and the gods of reading finally threw us a bone (along with a nice rendition of Handel's Messiah). Sophia loves graphic novels. LOVES them. She'd read TenNapel's Ghostopolis, so when I saw he had a new book out, I ordered it right away, along with a couple of others. She devoured three graphic novels in one afternoon - music to a writer mom's heart.
But are graphic novels, well, good? you ask. Are they, dare we use the word, literature?
There is some good stuff out there. Really good stuff. Bad Island is decent fair. Persepolis is more hard-hitting and memorable. Smile is a graphic novel Sophia reads over and over. But Bad Island may just become a regular in her reading diet. It has science fiction, family problems, flying stone robots, a dead snake that comes back to life, an annoying little sister, a brother who finally gets to prove himself, a ship wreck. Good, riveting stuff. The story line is solid, interweaving two believable plots. This is not pure cotton candy for the reluctant reader. It's got meat to it. And flying pink birds. What more could you ask for? Plus, it's not as unnerving as say a Neil Gaimon graphic novel, but not as gentle as Raina Telgemaier's Smile. It will capture the boy crowd and hold their attention with things like stomach acid and invisibility stones. While girls will love the pet animals that have BIG moms to protect them when older brother drop kick the cute, but deadly babies. In other words, it's got a healthy does of humor too.
Basic plot line: father takes family on boat outing. Boat sinks in mysterious storm. Family lands on strange island with all kinds of life found nowhere else on earth. Family tries to figure out what the island is, almost gets killed a few times, but finally discovers the island is a sleeping stone robot that they save and which, in turn, saves them.
If you've got an hour for a waltz on the graphic side of life, pick this one up. If you've got a reluctant boy reader, ORDER IT. They will read it again and again. And if you're thrilled to find your child reading, check out a few other graphic novels. Peppered through nonillustrated reads, such as Tiger Rising, or Holes, graphic novels can actually make reading fun.
For more an abundant supply of winter reads this blustery November, scamper over to Barrie Summy's website. She's got a treeful.
Causes Stacy Nyikos Supports
ASPCA, Humane Society, Wildlife Federation