When it comes to the new surge of children’s publishing in the area of graphic novels and comics, I feel like I am living in the Flintstone’s cave while the Jetsons are zooming around. It’s not that I don’t like pictures to play a significant role in storytelling–I love picture books! It’s not that I don’t like comics for kids–I read my share of Archie, Superman, and my favorite, the melancholy Batman.
I already know that manga and I can never be friends. I am too old to learn how to read a book backwards. But I’d really like to like graphic novels. So for my next review column in Reading Today, I decided to tackle the world of graphic novels. That way I’d read a few, and I knew I’d at least like some of them, and even if I didn’t I figured that the teachers who make up the main audience for Reading Today probably felt about graphic novels pretty much the same way I do. Maybe we could all learn to like them.
So far, not much success. The new Marcia Williams version of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is gorgeous, bawdy fun…but the teachers aren’t going to like that bawdy part too much. Tiny Tyrant, translated from the French reads like the equivalent of 12 cartoon storyboards. It’s a little funny, but not funny enough. Kids will love it; their teachers will not care for the guns, the explosions, the cartoon humor.
So far I’ve hit one that I loved–To Dance: A Ballerina’s Graphic Novel. And of course Babymouse is great fun, while also being suspiciously pink and girl-oriented. Makes me wonder…is it graphic novels I don’t like, or is it boy humor? I’ll keep reading…