Monthly Archives: February 2013

Book Review for “The Tempest the Graphic Novel”

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Shakespeare, W., McDonald, J., & Howard, J. (2009). The tempest the graphic novel: Plain text. Classical Comics.

     One of the most commonly known names in the history of literature is William Shakespeare. This renowned literary artist seems to be a favorite amongst high school English teachers, making it very difficult to find anyone who has never heard of him. Original texts, reenactments of his plays, and movie theater renditions of his stories have been created and recreated throughout the centuries, but have you ever read one of his graphic novels? A popular trend in literature today involves the adaptation of classical literary works into graphic novels or comic strips; this is precisely what has been done with William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Shakespeare’s original text has been reworked into the colorful pages of The Tempest the Graphic Novel. If you are a fan of Shakespeare, this graphic novel will allow you to experience his work in a fun and colorful way like never before. If you’ve never read Shakespeare, this is your chance. There are many aspects of this graphic novel format that appeal to both traditional literary lovers and contemporary readers alike.

     The difference between original texts and graphic novels is that the illustrations and embellishments used in graphic novels make the literature come alive. The reader doesn’t simply read the story, they become immersed in it. Graphic novels are a multi-modal experience because they involved simultaneously processing words and pictures alike. The important thing to know about the illustrations in this type of novel is that they don’t simply restate the words in a visual way; they add unique elements that the text alone does not express. Processing these kinds of information simultaneously engage the reader more fully than regular novels or texts. They provide a larger depth of information for the brain to process and analyze including traditional literary themes such as mood, tone, and theme. The visual aspect of graphic novels allow for the reader to delve deeper into the plot and analyze it more fully.

     One of the necessary elements in any great graphic novel is the storyline, and Shakespeare’s The Tempest provides just that. This traditional work provides multiple opportunities for the reader to enjoy comical moments, visions of fantasy, awesome displays of magic, and colorful depictions. This is what is lost when a reader simply reads words on a page rather than using pictures and words together. This is what makes The Tempest the Graphic Novel easier for some readers to comprehend. The old English language used in Shakespeare’s work can make readability difficult in the 21st century. With the original text a reader might not understand the slang or time period-specific words used in this work. With the graphic novel however, the reader can use the context clues gleaned from the images to infer what certain words and phrases mean. Also, The Tempest involves a vivid imagination; many displays of fantasy, supernatural beings, and magic take place throughout its pages. These non-existent elements of this fictional story may be difficult for readers to imagine; providing the text along with illustrations ensures that the reader does not get lost.

     Every aspect of reading this classical work with a modern twist is fun and easily understood, but does it have a place in the classroom? Yes, and in fact graphic novels can allow students to more deeply interact with the literary work being studied. For example, this graphic novel can be used for students to analyze the texts and illustrations for traditional literary elements such as theme, tone, and mood. Students can also compare and contrast the execution of these literary elements by reading a portion of the original text and a portion of the graphic novel together; this can lead to in-depth discussions into how the images reinforce, change, complicate, or clarify the meaning of the words.

     Graphic novels are a genre of literature that have been increasing in popularity in recent years. They have been shunned by educators in the past for their use of pictures. Today however, many educators are beginning to realize that pictures do not necessarily distract from a literary work. When executed correctly a graphic novel can give a greater depth of meaning than words alone. This graphic novel is a great example of how images and time sequencing can update a traditional work. While original texts will always be used in schoolrooms, graphic novels can provide great supplementary reading and opportunities for analysis. The Tempest the Graphic Novel is a new and exhilarating to experience William Shakespeare’s traditional work.

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Why Graphic Novels? A Video Reflection

Here’s a great video titled “Making of a Graphic Novel” by CapstonePublishers. This video describes the advantages of using graphic novels in the classroom. It also provides an exciting and detailed description of the process of making graphic novels.

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Book Review for “A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel”

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L, M., & Larson, H. (2012). A wrinkle in time: The graphic novel. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

     Hope Larson and Madeline L’engle’s A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel will be forever affectionately remembered in my mind as the first graphic novel I ever read; this is where it all started. I had never read a graphic novel until I read this work, and I was blown away by how quickly I fell in love with this genre. Before starting this book, I had qualms about this genre. I thought it might take away my sense of imagination with the added visuals, and I was worried that my brain would process the simultaneous use of pictures and words very slowly. As I began to read, a few things initially struck me: how much the illustrations aided my imagination, how the illustrations helped me grasp the characters and settings much quicker, and how fast I read through the pages. Reading my first graphic novel surprised me in all of these ways; none of my qualms had been confirmed. The first day I discovered graphic novels I ended up reading three of them. To say I enjoyed this genre would be putting it lightly.

     Larson and L’engle’s graphic novel was a great introduction to this genre; it exhibited all the qualities that make for a great read. To begin with, the content of the novel was very conducive to this format. The visual elements were able to convey the elements of fantasy in ways that words alone cannot. At many places in the novel, the main character, Meg, describe fantastic scenes that don’t even exist in our world; this can be confusing to comprehend when reading a novel because there is nothing for such scenes can be compared to. This is where the visual representations came in handy. Also, many abstract ideas were discussed in this story including dimensions of space and time travel. The illustrations made abstract ideas concrete and imaginable.

     While A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel was a prime example of this genre, it is impossible to enjoy a graphic novel without an exciting storyline. Larson and L’engle’s work has just that. The odd-ball main character Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and her friend Calvin are mysteriously and suddenly transported throughout space and time by three unusual characters. Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which are three supernatural beings that blossom into wonderful friends, companions, and guides for the main characters. These beings support the young time travelers as they embark on a mission to save Meg and Charles’s father. Their father is a time-traveler himself and has been trapped on an alien planet. At this unusual place, the tree heroes must resist giving into “It”, the physical manifestation of mind control and conformity. Meg and her companions must fight with their minds, rather than their fists, to retain that which makes them human: their ability to think, love, and believe.

     Everything about Hope Larson and Madeline L’engle’s A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel is new and exciting, from the far off places of fantasy, to the very style through which this story is told. Not only is A Wrinkle in Time a great novel, but it is a fun and visually engaging graphic novel as well.

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February 21, 2013 · 3:04 am

Book Review for “Twilight: The Graphic Novel”

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Meyer, S., & Young, K. (2010). Twilight: The graphic novel. (Vol. I). New York, NY: Hachette Book Group, Incorporated.

     I recently read Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight as much out of curiosity as I did out of a desire to read. Like many people I am no stranger to the negative reviews piled in heaps upon Meyer’s work. I admit to indulging in these bias reviews even before I had read the work simply because the negative opinions seemed to be so widespread. However, at a friend’s house the other day I came upon Twilight: The Graphic Novel. I had never had any intention of reading Meyer’s work (again I was giving into popular biases), but after perusing the graphic novels I changed my mind. I was curious to see why people hated the novel so much, and I reasoned that the graphic novel was probably much more entertaining. Besides, I consider myself an avid reader, so how could I not educate myself on the latest literary works in pop culture? My own personal adventure with Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, changed my opinion of the work.

     One of the most convincing arguments against Twilight that I heard was that the storyline was superficial. While other prominent science-fiction/fantasy novels in pop culture-like Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings-feature plots that center around epic battles between good and evil, Twilight basically revolves around a teenage relationship. If you are not familiar with the story it goes something like this. A regular (human) girl named Bella falls in love with a handsome vampire named Edward. The two star-crossed lovers cannot possibly be together because of Edward’s natural predatory instinct towards humans. These novels chronicle the obstacles and hardships the two must go through on a quest to make their unusual predicament of a relationship work. While I did find some truth in the popular opinions about the series, I also found that there was something of value or merit to be gained from reading these novels.

     To begin with, yes, the storyline does center around a teenage relationship, but that does not mean there are not powerful themes presented throughout this plot. Like Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings, Twilight also fosters positive messages and motifs if you look for them. Particularly with Edward’s plight, I was able to find a very admirable message. By Edward’s very nature as a vampire, he has an almost uncontrollable natural instinct to kill and feed on human beings. He however, chooses a difficult path for himself in controlling his nature and refusing to prey upon human beings. No matter how hard it may be, Edward finds the means necessary to control his natural, animal-like instincts to retain what humanity he does still have. He himself was once a human being, and he tries to satiate his cravings by feeding on animals alone. The lesson learned here is that no matter how difficult it is, you can always overcome your faults to become the best person you can be.

     Another strong theme throughout Twilight is the theme of loving and accepting others for who they are. Bella knowingly puts herself in grave danger by allowing herself to become friends (and eventually more than friends) with the ominous vampire. She loves and accepts not only Edward but his entire vampire family although she knows they could easily kill her at any moment. This love and acceptance creates a bond between Bella and Edward’s family that is unbreakable. In the end, love really does conquer all.

     In reading Stephenie Meyer’s and Young Kim’s Twilight: The Graphic Novel, I was very surprised to find that I enjoyed the novel as much as I did. Surely the nature of the graphic novel added to this enjoyment greatly. Seeing as the Twilight series involves fantasy elements and wonderful displays of action and fighting, it lent itself well to the comic strip format. Being able to see the action unfold like a comic book made this novel even better for me personally. I learned that despite what other people say, you should always try something on for yourself before you judge it. I’d truly like to believe that every text out there holds some sort of value or merit; it is just up to the reader to find it. Consequently, I also believe that just because many people cannot see the value in a literary work does not mean that it is not there. I will be honest in saying that I found my experience reading Twilight: The Graphic Novel was a pleasant one, even if it is not my favorite book. If you open your mind just a little bit you may be able to find endearing personal themes even in a novel about the love between a girl and a vampire.

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A Reflection on Kylene Beers’s “Choosing Not to Read”

     “I don’t like to read.” “Reading is boring.” “I’d rather be watching T.V.” If these words sound familiar to you, you are not alone. It is no secret that not all young adults like reading. In fact, many grown adults don’t like to read as well. Why is this? Maybe some young adults don’t grow up immersed in a reading culture. Maybe students are not given enough choice in what it is they read. And maybe school-age students are taught inadvertently to dislike reading.

     With all the time, tax money, and effort spent helping young adolescents learn how to read it seems silly to imply that the classroom is where they learn their disdain for reading, or is it? If you have ever participated in one of the following reading activities at school you are not alone: answered questions at the end of a chapter, wrote a plot summary after reading, read a text to analyze the author’s intended meaning, or took a test based on a summer reading book. All of these are common occurrences in language arts classrooms around the nation, but are they really benefiting our students? When we ask our students to read a text to glean certain pieces of information that are meant to be regurgitated for a grade, are we fostering a love, excitement, or appreciation for reading? According to Kylene Beers (and myself) that answer is no.

     One of the main reasons students don’t read is because they don’t enjoy it.. They are forced to read books they didn’t choose, read genres they don’t like, or read for meaning not pleasure. All of these things teach our young adults that reading is, albeit a necessary skill, one that is just that: necessary skill. Reading is necessary for success in school, in the work field, and in life in general. But what if reading were an option, not something you were forced out of necessity to do, but something you chose to do because you liked it? Are students not taught this about reading? In modern society reading has become a skill to navigate the world, and consequently it has become nothing more than that. This is how most students view reading: as a skill, as a necessity, but not as a source of enjoyment.

     So does young adolescents’ lack of interest in reading lie in the fact that they are not educated enough or forced to read enough? On the contrary, many students do not enjoy reading because they are not being shown that is it an enjoyable activity. Even still, if students were allowed to read for enjoyment, one question remains. Would some students still dislike reading? The answer, I believe, is yes. Not all people are the same, and no matter what some students will just not enjoy reading. Some scholars or educators may view this as a flaw or something to be corrected, but I recognize and respect the fact that no single activity on the face of the planet is loved and enjoyed by all. As much as I love reading and hope to be a teacher that encourages and fosters this love, I respect the fact that some students may still choose not to read.

Kylene, B. (2005). Choosing not to read: Understanding why some middle schoolers just say no. Retrieved from http://www.csun.edu/~krowlands/Content/Academic_Resources/Reading/Useful Articles/Beers-Choosing not to Read.pdf

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Book Review for “Gandhi”

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Demi. (2001). Gandhi. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books.

     Demi’s Gandhi is a biographical picture book about the renowned civil rights activist and peacemaker for whom the book was named. This work features an insightful, although abridged, story of Gandhi’s life. The plainly written text accompanied by the fanciful illustrations make the complicated subjects that arise throughout the book easier for young readers to understand. Demi’s work is a great way to inform young readers not only about Gandhi’s life but also about the history of civil rights and peaceful protest in the previously British-ruled India. Though this picture book is far from a complete biography of Gandhi’s life, it makes the young reader aware of some of the most important aspects of the pacifist’s peaceful mission on earth. Gandhi by Demi is not only an informative text but a tribute to the peaceful and loving life of Mahatma Gandhi.

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