Posted in Animal Fiction, Early Reader, Fiction, Graphic Novels

BirdCatDog: A graphic novel for beginners, with multiple points of view

birdcatdogBirdCatDog, by Lee Nordling and Meritxell Bosch (Nov. 2014, Lerner Publishing Group). $25.26, ISBN: 9781467745222

Recommended for ages 5+

Three narratives, three separate points of view, all come together in this graphic novel by Lee Nordling and Meritxell Bosch. A bird, a cat, and a dog all start their day with different achievement – the bird, to find freedom, the cat, to explore his world, and the dog, to defend his home. Each character meets and interacts with the others throughout the course of the book – the bird chases the cat, who ends up on the wrong side of the dog’s fence – and other character come into play to lead to more pandemonium.

The stories can be ready separately – each character’s narrative is color-coded – or as a whole. The pages are split into three panels, facilitating the individual narratives. The animals are cartoony, but not exaggeratedly so. They have expressive faces and body language, and the story is straightforward, making it perfect for new readers and even pre-readers, with the help of an adult or older sibling.

The split narratives make this book useful in many different ways across different ages. You can talk about perspective and point of view; you can read the individual narratives; you can encourage children to talk about what they see happening on the page in any number of combinations. It’s a great way to introduce sequential concepts in reading to kids.

Posted in Preschool Reads

Book Review: Diary of a Worm, by Doreen Cronin/illus. by Harry Bliss (Joanna Cotler Books, 2003)

diary of a worm

Recommended for ages 2-6

A young worm journals his daily life, writing about his friends, his family, and the pluses and minuses of being a worm.  His observations are often very funny, as when he talks about spending the day above ground with his family after a rainstorm, and then notes, “Hopscotch is a very dangerous game”, with illustrations from a worm’s point of view. The story includes facts about earthworm behavior that gives young audiences a fun lesson in science: earthworms dig tunnels that help the earth breathe; worms cannot walk upside down, and worms have no teeth being just a few fun factoids to take away.

The artwork adds to the appeal of the book. Mr. Bliss uses watercolor and ink illustrations to bring Worm, his family and friends to life; while not overly anthropomorphizing them, he does infuse them with personality. The worm’s-eye view of the world provides a different point of view that young audiences will appreciate, and could lead to a good post-storytime discussion of how things look different from a worm’s point view as opposed to a human’s. The text looks almost like a printed font, and the entries are dated, like a real diary would be. The endpapers are set up like a scrapbook or diary, with photos of Worm’s friends, family, and accomplishments – report cards, a web made for him by his friend, Spider, a comic strip – “taped” to the pages.

The “Ðiary Of” series includes Diary of a Fly; Diary of a Spider; and Diary of a Worm.

A Wiggling Worms/Garden read-aloud would be a fun idea for the Spring. Diary of a Worm may be a tricky read-aloud if done conventionally, as there is a lot of activity within each page. Bringing in puppets may be a fun way to accomplish a fun read-aloud, with assistants or another librarian acting out with puppets of worms, spiders, and flies, while the librarian narrates the journal entries. Amazon offers a Diary of a Worm & Friends Finger Puppet Playset that would connect the puppet show to the book even further. An after-story discussion about worms would involve children, inviting them to share what they have learned about worms after reading the book. A fun craft would let children make worms out of modeling clay, which they could take home. Scholastic has a Diary of a Worm DVD that may be fun viewing for younger audiences.

Diary of a Worm has received numerous awards and accolades since its publication, including designation as a School Library Journal Best Book for Children (2003).