Tag Archives: graphic novel


Title: Stitches


Author(s): David Small


Illustrator/Photographer: David Small


Publisher and Year: W. W. Norton & Company 2009


Number of pages: 329

Tags: Graphic novel, Emotion, Family, Memoir, 4-5, 6-8, Joe Marras


Genre: Graphic novel, Memoir


Descriptive Annotation: This graphic novel starts with David as a child and he explains the forms of expression for his mother, father, brother, and himself.  David’s forms of expression is drawing, which is obviously very fitting, and getting sick. David gets sick at a young age, which he later finds out was cancer and resulted in one of his vocal chords being taken out.  Sharing this story in a graphic novel seems like the perfect way to do so because of how David likes to express himself and then not being able to talk very much because of the cancer. It is obvious that his family has communication issues, and they aren’t a close family.  David has to face a lot of harsh realities all by himself because there is no love and support from his family, but he doesn’t let that stop him from finding eventual freedom.


Classroom Application: This story is very well expressed through illustrations.  I think a story like this can show that graphic novels are a valuable way to express a story and learn.  This story also shows the negatives of non-communication. David’s family does not communicate or express themselves to each other and that grew to resentment.  It shows that communication is vital, which is a valuable lesson for young readers.


Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: I think that this story can open up a valuable discussion about how important communication is.  David wasn’t able to express himself to anyone because they were not there for him to do so. They did not open that line of communication which can lead to resentment like it did for David to his mother whom showed him no love or affection.  “Mama had her little cough… once or twice, some quiet sobbing, out of sight… or the slamming of kitchen cupboard doors.” (page 15) This set the tone of his mother being quiet and keeping to herself for the entire story. That was her sound, her expression, and she never strayed off of that too much.  Another quote that really keeps the tone of non-affection and that shows the relationship that he and his mother had is on page 255, “I’m sorry, David it’s true. She doesn’t love you.” This comes from David’s therapist that he drew as the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. It is just the brutal reality that David had to face that his mother does not genuinely love him and the only time she showed anything for him was when she found out he had cancer and she thought that he wasn’t going to make it.  It’s terrible that he has to hear this, but this is really when it really gets brought home for David that it really is true.

Image result for stitches book

One Dead Spy

Title: One Dead Spy

Author: Nathan Hale

Illustrator: Nathan Hale

Publisher/ Year: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2012

Number of Pages: 128

Tags/Themes:  Adventure, Chapter Book, Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, 4-5, 6-8, Rebecca Cauthorn

Genre: Historical Fiction (Almost non-fiction, but not quite)

Descriptive Annotation: This book begins at the execution of the historical figure Nathan Hale (ironically, also the author’s name). However, before he is hung he gets swallowed by a gigantic history book and suddenly he knows everything that happens in the future of America. Intrigued, the executioner and the guard ask him to tell his story. Both the language used and the illustrations are hilarious, helping the reader stay engaged during the discussion of the revolutionary war. Nathan Hale (the primary narrator) begins telling the story of the war, jumping back and forth between his story and his current conversation with the guard and the executioner.  This book walks through all of the beginning major battles of the war (including Bunker Hill, Winter’s Hill, the siege of Boston, and more) and the recalling of these events are extremely accurate, including exact quotes from some of the major figures involved. The book ends with Hale going to get hung, but he says he knows how the war ends, so they decide not to hang him yet and allow him to continue telling the story (setting it up for a sequel). Before reading this book students would need to know what the Revolutionary War was.

Classroom Application: This would be an excellent text to accompany a history lesson on the Revolutionary War!! It would be a very fun and engaging way to get the kids excited to learn about the battles while also increasing their desire to read and enjoyment of reading. Also, if students had not yet been familiar with graphic novels, this would be a good way to show them that graphic novels are awesome! And a super legit way to read and can be very informative and fun. Another benefit of this book is that because it is so fun while also being very instructional, it could spark curiosity in students and a desire to continue learning more.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book represents both the opinions of the Americans and the British during the Revolutionary war, which I think is important. It is common that people teach the Revolutionary War as being just one-sided, when in fact many of the British soldiers were just fighting for what they thought was right! By including the dialogue between Nathan Hale and the British soldier guard, it allows the reader to understand both sides of the story, which both raises the stakes and provides interesting insights to why the war happened.


Real Friends

Title: Real Friends

Author: Shannon Hale

Illustrator: LeUyen Pham artwork by Jane Poole

Publisher and Year: First Second 2017

Number of Pages: 213

Tags/Themes: Chapter book, family, emotion, historical fiction, friendship, graphic novel, 4-5, 6-8, Rebecca Cauthorn

Genre: historical fiction

Descriptive Annotation: This graphic novel tells the very relatable and common story of a girl trying to fit in to a group of friends. She gets bullied at school, and at home by her older sister, who (as it turns out), has had her own trouble finding friends her whole life, too. At the end of this novel is an author’s note which helps to understand the message she is trying to send as well as revealing that the girl the book is about, Shannon, is none other than the author herself. While there are pictures on every page, students need to have a strong vocabulary knowledge and this book would not be appropriate until around the fourth grade.

Classroom Application: This book would be brilliant to share with the class if there was any bullying going on. Even if there was no obvious bullying, it would be good to share if you could clearly see different groups within the classroom. This book helps teach a valuable lesson of kindness and being accepting to everyone. This book would fit in less with the actual curriculum of the class and more into Social and Emotional Learning Standards for the students.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: The girl in this book, Shannon, struggles with anxiety and perhaps depression, and talks about wanting to just disappear. This is a feeling that students may be having in the class and so it would be good to show this book to demonstrate that they are not alone. It also could open the eyes to some students who perhaps didn’t realize they were bullying another student or being mean, but this could shed light on it. This book is also good for students who are struggling with issues with their siblings, because it shows that family tension during these ripe years are normal.


This One Summer

Title: This One Summer

Author(s): Mariko Tamaki

Illustrator/Photographer: Jillian Tamaki

Publisher and Year: First Second Books, 2014

Number of Pages: 319

Tags: Emotion, Family, Fiction, Friendship, Graphic Novel, 6-8, 8-12, Sarah Luce

Genre: Fictional Graphic Novel

Descriptive Annotation:

This graphic novel is about a young teenage girl and her family who go up to their cottage on a lake every summer. The story follows the girl, Rose, and her friend, Windy, as they spend their days at the beach and their nights watching horror movies from the local store. The girls are exposed to many adult things as they hang around the store where the older kids hang out. Rose’s family is also going through a rough patch that summer and Rose learns of the secret behind her mother’s new negative attitude towards the lake. This book has a lot of crude language and mature themes that are not acceptable for students younger than high school age, if not older.

Classroom Application:

This book could be used to discuss life issues in a high school setting. Some students who read this book might be introduced to topics they have had little experience with, if any at all.  It is important to use this book as a discussion starter, instead of simply a “free reading” book, as it could stir up strong feelings within students.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:

This One Summer represents the teenage culture around the “coming of age” period in adolescents’ lives. It was published in 2014, so the portrayal is similar to today’s experience. The story is a graphic novel, so most of the dialogue is through speech bubbles and a lot of the plot is carried through the illustrations. In one scene, the young girls are talking about the older kids they ran into at the store, and it is clear they are impacted by the teenagers’ actions. Rose and Windy start talking about them once they get home saying, “‘Oh my god those girls are sooo loud. I bet you they were drunk. They’re like, DRUNKS’” (page 40). I would introduce this story to my class with a warning of the maturity of its content and language. The story not only deals with intense topics, but also situations where families are apart, like when Rose’s mom says to Rose, “‘I know you’re angry. Rose. I didn’t send your dad away’” (page 224). It gives students an insight into what life is like for families that may be different than their own.



Audrey’s Magic Nine

Title: Audrey’s Magic Nine

Author: Michelle Wright

Illustrator: Courtney Huddleston

Publisher and year: Penny-Farthing Productions Inc. 2018

Number of pages: 144.

Tags/Themes: Adventure, Diversity, Family, Fantasy, Fiction, Friendship, Graphic Novel, 2-3,e

Genre: fantasy, sequential art, graphic novel, adoption

Descriptive Annotation:  Audrey is a 10-year-old black girl who has been in the foster care her whole life.  Her foster parents neglected her and her foster siblings giving her little food, and when the news station reported it, Tabitha saw Audrey and wanted to adopt her.  Tabitha and her husband overworked Audrey with piano, violin, ballet, and school work when all Audrey wanted to do was draw in her notebook.  One night she finds a magic puppet from another world who was kicked out of his world from an evil magic queen.  Audrey and her new friend Asa try to find his new friends while Audrey is learning how to live with her new parents.

The graphic novel does a good job showing Audrey’s drawings as a central piece to storytelling in the book .

Classroom Application:  Audrey draws to help her cope and deal with any stress she has.  The book can be used to encourage the children to use the arts as a way to express themselves.  Children learning how to express and explain their thoughts or emotions will be very helpful as they grow up.  Methods can be comic making, drawing, paintings, creative writing, acting and script writing, or sculpting.  Students can do a writing piece filled with their emotion and do a companion piece of art to complement their writing.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book has a representation of the foster care system and highlights issues like child neglect, overcoming personal problems, and using art as a coping mechanism.  It gives a sense that families come in different forms (step-parents, multi-racial families) teaching children not to make assumptions about others’ family structures.  When in new or stressful family situations, the book teaches how to use expressive skills so family issues do not get bottled up causing any future emotional harm.  The story also shows a strong female character who is brave and wants to help her friends.  I might introduce this graphic novel by having the students describe their favorite super powers, what they admire in heroes, and what they don’t like about super villains.  This can set up their interests with the super  powered puppets, creating future empathy with the characters and a greater admiration for Audrey being brave throughout the story.  “There were several young girls in the Mercer fosters home, ranging in ages 5-16 and allegedly subjected to such punishments as hours spent in a small, locked closet ” (12).  This sets up the tone right away.  This graphic novel is serious and straight to the point.  It is not afraid to state the facts what life is like for some children.  “But those people have put that poor woman in danger, just for taking pizza out of the trash ” (73).  This shows the empathy Audrey has the for the world.  Even though she has been is foster care where she can’t express her emotions, she is still seeing the beauty in people and wants everyone to be valued.

Child Soldier When Boys and Girls Are Used in War

Title – Child Soldier When Boys and Girls Are Used in War

Author(s) – Jessica Dee Humphreys & Michel Chikwanine

Illustrator/Photographer – Claudia Davila

Publisher and Year – September 1, 2015 by Kids Can Press

Number of pages – 48 pages

Tags/Themes – Rylie Loux, 6-8, Graphic Novel, Emotion, Family, Culture, Friendship,

Genre – Graphic Novel

Descriptive Annotation: An ex–child soldier tells his horrifying story, that begins by being kidnapped at the age of 5 and forced to kill his best friend. Michael was abducted by a rebel militia at age five while growing up in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the 1990s. Michel and his best friend, Kevin, are kidnapped with other boys by a rebel militia when they’re playing soccer on the field after school. They’re thrown into trucks and taken to the soldiers’ camp in the hills, where Michael is forced to become a child soldier. While they are kidnapped they are beaten, cut with knives, forced to consume cocaine, and even killed. Michel is blindfolded, a gun is put into his hand, and someone behind him grabs his fingers, puts one on the trigger, and forces it to shoot. A soldier takes off the blindfold and Michel sees he’s killed Kevin. After Michel escapes and returns home, he continues to suffer because his father is kidnapped and tortured and sent to a refugee camp in Uganda. The family joins him there, and after his father’s death, Michel, his mother, and one sister migrate to Canada when he’s 16.

Classroom Application: This is a perfect resource for engaging students in social studies lessons on global awareness and social justice issues, and classroom discussions about conflict, children’s rights and even bullying. This can associate with other historic events that are similar. They’ll also gain an awareness that the horror of child soldiers remains an issue in many countries of the world today, as well as military services. As a teacher, you can ask your students if they know that young adults are forced into the military and where is this still happening in our world today? Another ideology that this book presents is the idea of making a difference in your own and someone else’s life. This story shows how much has changed since the 1990s but how there is always room for someone to make an advancement.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book represents the culture of the Democratic Republic of Congo. This story is used to teach students and generate discussion about the history in different countries. Davila’s illustrations stay clear of explicit violence, using facial expressions to convey vividly the rebels’ brutality, the shock of their child captives, and the narrator’s emotional scars. This is giving students a realistic glimpse of what happened in the 1990s. This book also gives important political and historical context to these events.

Quotes –  

“Your family will never take you back now. We are your only family.”

“Working together, we will make positive, changes in the world. As my father used to tell me, “If you ever think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a room with a mosquito.”

Drawn Together

Title: Drawn Together

Author(s): Minh Lê

Illustrator/Photographer: Dan Santat

Publisher and Year: Disney-Hyperion 2018

Number of pages: 32

Tags/Themes: Allison Henry, Culture, Diversity, Family, Fantasy, Fine Arts, Graphic Novel, K-5

Genre: Fantasy

Descriptive Annotation: Drawn Together is the story of a little boy and his grandfather realizing that they don’t need to use words to connect to each other. In the beginning of the story the grandfather and the grandson struggle to understand each other, as the grandfather speaks Vietnamese and the grandson speaks English. One day, the boy is drawing at the table and the grandfather pulls out a sketchbook filled with amazing drawings. The grandson and grandfather begin creating stories together, using only their drawings, no words. There are not many words in the story, so a student reading this book needs a background knowledge of how to read graphic novels, or at least the critical thinking skills to figure out how to read graphic novels, to understand the story. According to the copyright information, the illustrations were done in a variety of materials and then rendered on a computer.

Classroom Application: This story has connections to fine arts and the Social and Emotional Learning Standards. This story shows that art can cross many barriers in communication. One page says, “Right when I gave up on talking, my grandfather surprised me by revealing a world beyond words.” A few pages later it says, “All the things we could never say come pouring out” in response to the newly-discovered shared love of drawing. It can also be used to show the art styles of the Vietnamese culture, and begin an inquiry into different styles of art in different cultures. Social and Emotional Learning Standard 2 talks about building positive relationships and this story is an example of building positive relationships without being able to talk to one another.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: Both characters in the story are Vietnamese Americans. The grandfather is more Vietnamese, and the boy is more American. It can generate discussion on many aspects of different cultures (i.e. language, food, art) and ancestry. There are many panels in the beginning of the story that show both American and Vietnamese items for comparison. Many of the grandfather’s drawings are done in what appears to be traditional Vietnamese style.

El Deafo

Title: El Deafo

Author(s ): Cece Bell

Illustrator/Photographer: Cece Bell

Publisher and Year: Amulet Books, 2014

Number of pages: 233

Tags/Themes: Allison Henry, Animals, Award Book, Fiction, 4-5, 6-8, Family, Graphic Novel

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Descriptive Annotation: El Deafo is the story of a young girl, Cece, navigating elementary school and all that entails, while deaf. After contracting meningitis at age 4, Cece loses all ability to hear. She receives hearing aids and a Phonic Ear to use in school. In order to cope with being different, Cece creates an alter-ego, El Deafo. This book is a graphic novel, therefore there are many illustrations in the text. Students would need to have background knowledge in basic school situations, a middle to upper elementary level vocabulary, and the knowledge of how to read a graphic novel.

Classroom Application: I would use this text to address the Social Emotional Learning Standards for late elementary. This book could be used for Learning Standards 1.A., 2.A., 2.B.2.b., 2.C., and 2.D. These standards refer to explaining emotions, identifying social clues and describing them, identifying differences and overcoming them, and cooperating with friends and other groups. All of these topics are addressed in El Deafo, where the situations are presented, Cece chooses a course of action, and then the consequences are shown.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book is about a child that is deaf. This story presents many situations that students that are deaf and their classmates could find themselves in. This book could be used to start a discussion about treatment of peers that may be different from themselves. This book was published in 2014, therefore it is up to date in the vocabulary that it uses to describe the situations and the treatments used to assist the student that is deaf. This book could be introduced by explaining to the students that sometimes, people have different abilities. It could also be explained that, just because someone may have different abilities, does not mean that they are in need of assistance. It can be used to start a discussion on appropriate treatment of peers, addressing both bullying and trying to be too helpful. On page 34, Cece is teased by a friend for mishearing a question. Her friend, Emma, says, “No-not supper-summer! Summmmmm-mmmmmer! Supper! HEE HEE!” This part of the story focuses on Cece being teased by her peers and how see feels when this happens. Later in the story, Cece makes a friend that is too helpful. In response to Ginny, her friend, saying, “CEE-CEE. DOO YOO WANT MYYY PEEA-NUT BUTT-ER SAND-WICH?”, Cece thinks, “I really, really like Ginny. She’s funny. She’s weird. We love all the same things. So what’s the problem? It’s the wat she talks to me… “(67).

Drowned City

Author: Don Brown

Illustrator: Don Brown

Publisher and Year: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015

Number of pages: 96

Tags/Themes: Culture, Emotion, Family, Graphic Novel, Non-fiction, 6-8, Olivia Ruff

Genre: Non-fiction

Descriptive Annotation: The novel is about Hurricane Katrina. The novel shows the reasons why the hurricane was disastrous, but it also shows how the country and the communities responded to helping struggling survivors. The students should understand complex words, and drowning is discussed in the novel, so this book would not be ideal for young children for those two reasons.

Classroom Application: This text would be effective in an English or History classroom. The novel is an interesting form that is not that of a traditional novel, so it would be interesting to analyze due to the form. It is important to show students that there is engaging and important literature that strays from the traditional chapter book format. It would be beneficial in a History classroom because the novel covers many different aspects of Hurricane Katrina including involvement at the community level along with federal level. Novels that are creditable and effectively show several aspects of a historical event is something that would be good to use in the classroom in order to offer a different form.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: The novel covers the disaster that struck New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit. The novel addresses the struggles that came with the hurricane including the obstacles facing the survivors, leftover environmental concerns plaguing the community, and the response from local and federal governments. This will enlighten younger students who were not alive for the hurricane to better understand the event and all of the different ways survivors struggled in the aftermath. I would assign this novel because of the form, and I would introduce this novel as a way to introduce graphic novels to my class. In terms of content, I would begin class discussion with asking them a question along the lines of, “What can you all tell me about hurricanes? Think of all aspects of the natural disaster.” And then I would put their responses on the board in order to create class discussion, and the novel would go into detail about environmental and social issues involved with one of the most horrific hurricanes to date. The narrative is written in a way that presents many facts, and I will include some quotes: “But the people there decide that being inside is better than staying abandoned on the sidewalk, and break in” (43). “Scores of sick, frail and elderly people swamp emergency medical clinics. Many are still strapped to doors used as makeshift stretchers” (74).


Author(s), Illustrator/Photographer: Art Spiegelman

Publisher and Year Number of pages: Pantheon Books, 1991, 296 Pages.

Genre: Fiction, Autobiography, Memoir, History and Biography.

Descriptive Annotation: The cover features two Polish Jews (Spiegelman and his father) cowering under the shadow of a giant swastika, modified by the imposition of a German-stylized cat’s head emblem. This is a combination of both standard Holocaust imagery and the use of animals as metaphors, which can be seen for the entirety of the graphic novel. Maus is the heartbreaking story of a Polish-American man and his aging father’s experiences in the Holocaust as a Polish Jew, and the continued regret of Spiegelman “using” the death of six million Jews to sell his book to some extent in his mind. As the Holocaust is described to him via his father, Spiegelman also continues to express guilt that didn’t talk to his father more about his experiences on a frequent basis when he had the opportunity to do so when the former was alive. The whole of his father’s trials, from growing up in moderately anti-Semitic Poland to the German invasion in 1939 and the ways in which the population react (or don’t react) to the actions the Nazi regime takes against the Jewish population, are covered in the book. Prior knowledge of what the Holocaust was, and perhaps reading of some more traditional fare on the era such as The Diary of Anne Frank, would certainly be useful in the scenario of students reading this novel in the classroom.

Classroom Application: In this graphic novel, the characters are all played by different animal personas based on nationality, which would be ideal for some upper-level social studies settings. For instance, the Nazis/Germans are cats, the Jews are mice, Americans are dogs, and the French are frogs. The metaphors purposefully don’t work for large portions of the story, i.e. when a mouse is a veteran of World War I for Germany and he flickers back and forth between being a mouse and a cat. This is a teachable moment, since it’s Spiegelman’s way of saying that race and racism, or discrimination of any kind, is very arbitrary because the categories we apply really don’t hold water when held up to scrutiny, or when you consider that people can belong to more than one category.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: Spiegelman covers the different ways in which the Holocaust is remembered, and notes that when he published the novel, nobody had used a comic book format to do so before: “I’m not talking about YOUR book now, but look at how many books have already been written about the Holocaust. What’s the point? People haven’t changed…” (Spiegelman, p. 34). Exasperation with people not being able to get the message with traditional mediums of literature drove Spiegelman to write this book, and that is why 27 years later, this is still a widely taught and used piece of work, both in the US and Germany, the latter of which had to be lobbied to permit the public sale of this book due to the display of the swastika being an illegal offense in that country. Another source of controversy is that the animal chosen to represent the Poles was a pig, since that is a common stereotype of people from Poland and from Eastern Europe in general, and the Germans are universally seen as a brutalizing force in the novel as well. The author speaks through one of his characters as unrepentant on the latter, though, stating “Let the Germans have a little what they did to the Jews” (Spiegelman, p. 226). Such an attitude may seem severe to certain readers, but in the context of the experience of Spiegelman’s family and millions of others, it is understandable that they are biased against their erstwhile oppressors and architects of the genocide.