Posted in Graphic Novels, Guide, Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Tween Reads

Comics: Easy as ABC! is essential kid and grownup reading!

Comics: Easy as ABC! The Essential Guide to Comics for Kids, by Ivan Brunetti, (Apr. 2019, TOON Books), $16.95, ISBN: 9781943145447

Ages 8-12

Ivan Brunetti and an all-star cast of comics luminaries put together a compulsively readable guide to cartooning and comics for kids and grownups alike. An Understanding Comics for younger readers, Comics: Easy as ABC! introduces kids to the joy of cartooning and doodling; drawing characters whose faces and body language communicate emotion and personality; perspective; point of view; lettering, and so much more. There are quotes and excerpts of comic panels and drawings by such comics and graphic novel notables including Neil Gaiman, Elise Gravel, Liniers, and Jeff Smith. TOON Editorial Director and New Yorker art editor Fran├žoise Mouly notes, in her introduction, that she hopes Comics: Easy as ABC! encourages more people to fall in love with comics and to inspire budding cartoonists.

This is such a great volume to have as a desk reference for librarians, parents, and educators, because it’s a crash course in understanding comics. It gives a language to the artwork, letting us look at all art – comic books, naturally, but picture books and illustrated chapter books, too – and explain to readers how to read art; how to decipher facial expressions and body language, how to read a landscape and understand a setting for a panel or spread. The book encourages readers to “draw their own conclusions” by letting them fill in the ending of a comic strip drawn by Pulitzer Prize-winning author and artist Art Spiegelman, and “find their own voices”, with guidance from author Eleanor Davis. A section dedicated to parents, teachers, and librarians guides us grown-ups through the process of how to read comics with kids, with examples, advice, and callout tips like, “The child who makes informed guesses is reading. Enjoy, and hold back from correcting”. Information about the TOON Into Reading Program explains TOON’s leveled reading (also broken further into Lexile, Guided Reading, Reading Recovery, and grade levels). An index, further resources, and a bibliography round out this information-packed guide to the world of comics and graphic novels.

TOON! does it again. This is an essential volume for your graphic novels shelves, and for your desk reference. There’s a 7-page free, downloadable Teacher’s Guide available on the website.

Posted in Early Reader, Graphic Novels, Intermediate, Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction, Preschool Reads

Two from TOON: Fun ways of looking at Math and Science

TOON’s doing it again: promoting authors and illustrators who know how to take abstract concepts and craft them into something exciting, beautiful, and fun. The two Fall graphic novels TOON has coming out: 3×4, by Ivan Brunetti, and We Are All Me, by Jordan Crane, play with multiplication, sorting, and sets; creation, DNA, and our relation to the planet and beyond. Sounds like weighty stuff, right? It is, but here’s the best part: these books are for kids, ages 3 and up. Let’s take a deeper look.

3 x 4, by Ivan Brunetti, (Sept. 2018, TOON Books), $12.95, ISBN: 9781943145348

Ages 3+

A teacher gives his class an assignment: draw 12 things, but in sets. Everything else is up to them: how many sets, what to draw, what colors to use. Annemarie, one of the girls in class, thinks deeply about what to create, as we see her classmates get to work on their sets. The book introduces readers to the beginning principles in multiplication; sorting; and thinking outside the box, as we see through the kids’ assignments. The book is so meta – it’s a math assignment within a math assignment – that teachers can easily use this as a math storytime.

Ivan Brunetti’s previous TOON book, WordPlay, played with language and compound words, and also starred Annemarie, a child of color in a diverse classroom of friends. As an art teacher, he has a gift for seeing things differently, and has the talent to make his ideas fun and relatable to a young audience. My 6-year-old read 3×4 to me, cover to cover, one night, after I read it to him and we worked through all the similarities between events in the book and what he’d done in his Kindergarten classroom the past school year. I’d love to try a math challenge for the kids in my library, asking them to start with 3 x 4, and go from there: make an art gallery and keep switching up the numbers. Have stickers and stamps and other creative materials handy!

3 x 4 has a starred review from Kirkus. As with all TOON books, a free, downloadable teacher’s guide is forthcoming.

 

We Are All Me, by Jordan Crane, (Sept. 2018, TOON Books), $12.95, ISBN: 9781943145355

Ages 3+

A dot forms and takes readers on a visual journey through existence. As it moves through bodies, nature, DNA, and space, readers experience evolution, our relationship to the Earth, and consciousness, all in vibrant, pulsing, day-glo pen, ink, and tablet artwork. Spare text reads lyrically, almost mantra-like, as we – via the dot – progress through time and space. The visual confirmation that we are connected to this world, and to one another, is exciting and humbling all at once; for young readers, it’s mind-blowing and beautiful. This is one of those books that left me speechless when I first read it, because it’s breathtaking and uses such brief, eloquent verbiage to explain… everything. A stunning must-have for all collections. Own it, and read it. Often.

We Are All Me has a free, downloadable teacher’s guide forthcoming.

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Intermediate, Preschool Reads

Have visual vocabulary fun with Wordplay!

Wordplay, by Ivan Brunetti, (May 2017, TOON Books), $12.95, ISBN: 978-1-943145-17-1

Recommended for readers 3-8

Kids learn about compound words – two words that come together to form a whole new word, like housework – in this visual feast for the eyes. Ever see a house vaccuming? A moon in an easy chair, reading under a bright light? You will here, as the kids in the story think up and visualize compound words that will make kids (and you) laugh and think.

This book is made for classrooms and programs. Ask your kids what compound words they can come up with – then draw it! Make a bookmark for one of the easiest compound words: Bookworm! The fun, bold art leaps off the page, and bright white word balloons make for dialogue that you can ask kids to read out loud, turning the book into a performance. Display Wordplay with other fun word books, like Lynne Truss’ younger readers’ version of Eats, Shoots and Leaves and Patricia Byers’ One Sheep, Two Sheep: A Book of Collective Nouns. Wordplay is a TOON Level 1; Levels E-J in Guided Reading. Teachers’ Resources are forthcoming.

Wordplay received a starred review from Kirkus.