By Tyler Keen – Young Guest Reviewer to Beyond the Box Learning
I am a big fan of graphic novels. My favorite feature about them is the fact that they always are entertaining to the eye. Our mind is always drawn to pictures and paintings, which makes graphic novels interesting and fun to read. A few things to understand about a graphic novel:
• Graphic novels are not comic books. Many people criticize the literary content of these books, saying that they are just comics and are all pictures and sound effects. (This may be true for some stories, as authors will always have different writing styles that may differ from superhero stories to variations of classic 1,000 page novels.) A well-written graphic novel must have a good story in it that is meant to be enjoyed, not read mindlessly without giving thought as to what the story is really about. In order to find a graphic novel that is entertaining, you must look hard for one and choose the right ones.
• Graphic novels can teach students, elementary to college level, all subjects of education. There are peewee graphic history novels that can tell 5th graders what happened in the American Revolution, as well as ones that teach college economic majors their whole course in an entire book. (See Economix, by Michael Goodwin.) Best of all, for students and teachers, graphic novels are entertaining. So, the students have fun reading what they think is a comic book, while they really are learning the topics of school that they used to hate.
My Top 5 Graphic Novel Authors
1. Jeff Smith- Author of Bone
I love all of Jeff Smith’s work. His main series, Bone, is absolutely fantastic. Bone is a series similar to Eragon (also a great book) that combines fantasy, adventure and humor. If you have not read any of his work, I highly recommend it. Note: There will be some violence in these books, so I would not recommend it to anyone under the age of 6. The graphics/art in this book is great, and its plotline/story is always moving.
2. Kazu Kibuishi- Author of Amulet, Copper, and Explorer
Kazu Kibuishi’s work is also great and the only reason I rate him as second is because his plotlines tend to not be as strong as some other graphic novels I have seen. His best series, Amulet, has incredible artwork. His other books, Copper and Explorer are lots of short stories, so they might be hard to understand. For example, Explorer is a bunch of tiny stories centered around one theme: hidden boxes. Overall, his work is very enjoyable, but it doesn’t have the best storyline in the world.
3. Doug Tennaple- Author of Creature Tech, Bad Island, Cardboard, Ghostopolis, Gear, Power Up, Tommysaurus Rex, Flinx, Monster Zoo, and much more.
Doug Tennaple has written so many books, and I have only read a fraction of what he has published. However, of what I have read, his books are very action-packed and grabbing for the reader. He comes up with the wildest story ideas, ranging from living cardboard, to the living afterlife. But, as many books as he has written, there is something these books lack a little bit: quality. Not to say that his books are bad of course, they are very well-written and drawn, but the plotline and graphics could be a little bit better, as some of the stories may be confusing to understand without an appropriate amount of context.
4. Jimmy Gownley- Author of Amelia Rules!
First off, let me just say one thing: I am not a girl! Even though I think these books are great, they are a bit girly, as the main character of this series is a girl. That is not to say, however, that these books consist of dolls, dress-up and other girly stuff. They are mainly about deep questions and emotions, such as the meaning of life, divorce, and family tragedies. They do have some humor though, so don’t back down on this series!
5. Jason Shiga- Author of Meanwhile
The only reason I put Jason Shiga on the bottom of my list is because I have only read one book he wrote. That book is called Meanwhile. Also, Meanwhile isn’t really a graphic novel. It is halfway between a graphic novel and a Choose Your Own Adventure book. It consists of a huge plotline of events and endings. (3,856 endings, in fact!) The artwork isn’t the best, (it can sometimes be a little simple) but you can’t be too picky with a book like this one. If you like Choose Your Own Adventure books, I highly recommend this book to you.
Well, there you have it. Five graphic novels that you can start reading to get yourself into a well-educated/well-recommended graphic novel reading phase! I really hope this helped you acquire a taste for graphic novels. And remember: A graphic novel is not a comic book!