Monday, August 3, 2015

Dealing with Diversity: Awesome Kid Graphic Novels


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From: http://sccss.ca/wordpress2/diversity/
Diversity is a popular buzzword in education and in publishing, and for good reason for lots of reasons. The breadth and depth of kids' books on diversity effects how teachers can teach it and integrate it into lessons and  curricula.

It's important to get kids to read because reading is THE best single indicator of how well kids will do in school.  You read to kids when little (and even older)  and their lexicon of familiar words soars - which in turn helps make them more facile with language (receptive and expressive).

Reading also opens worlds.The more kids read about history, about the world, about differetypes of characters, people (even aliens, monsters, and who-knows-what-else), the more the understand the world around them. So of course books about diverse people, cultures, and opinions are really important. What is really nice to see is that kids with physical and mental handicaps are being added to the diverse community.  The more we read about what their struggles are like (and how so many of them are in some ways just like others' struggles) the better our kids will understand and empathize.

Educators, in fact have directly influenced the publishing community. In 1968, for example, shortly after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Glickman, a Los Angeles teacher wrote to Charles Schulz regarding the lack of diversity and integration in Peanuts (the most popular comic strip in the country). As a result, a black character named Franklin was introduced into the comic strip that summer and would become a regular member of the Peanuts gang. For more on the 'hows' and 'whys' of Franklin's story, there's a wonderful post at mashable.com you should read ("How a schoolteacher helped create the first black Peanuts character" by Christine Erickson).

 Here's the first episode that made comic strip history (found at http://mashable.com/2014/11/26/franklin-black-peanuts-character-history/):


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Image: Peanuts copyright 1968 Peanuts Worldwide LLC
Franklin-comic-August-1-1968
Image: Peanuts copyright 1968 Peanuts Worldwide LLC



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Image: Peanuts copyright 1968 Peanuts Worldwide LLC
Adding  Franklin, though, wasn't that simple (in a large part because Schulz was afraid it might appear patronizing and hurt more than help). I also know it's not simple for publishers today to put out the much needed books on diversity.That said, and to their credit, it's happening and the breadth of diversities is growing too.

For kids' graphic novels, the path has been somewhat more challenging because publishers were concerned the actual images of kids with disabilities might be too frightening for some kids and parents/teachers wouldn't support them. In fact, Raina Telgemeier's Drama (where twins 'come out' that they're gay). That said, Drama has been a New York Times Bestseller and its success is opening doors for other graphic novels on diversity.  Here are a few that are worth notice:

http://cbldf.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/ABCcover.jpgAmerican Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang is a 2006 National Book Award Honor Book for Young People's Literature, the 2007 winner of the Michael L. Printz Award honoring literary excellence in young adult literature, the winner of the 2007 Eisner Award, and a 2007 Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year. In American Born Chinese, Gene Yang intertwines three stories - one of Chinese folklore about The Monkey King, one about a what it is like being Chinese in a predominantly white school, and the other about an assimilated Chinese boy. The best part is how these three stories meet at the end. For more on this graphic novel, suggesting paired readings,  and teaching/discussion suggestions, please visit Using Graphic Novels in Education: American Born Chinese.


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Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang was placed on the short list for the 2013 National Book Award for Young Peoples Literature This two-volume set tells the story of the Boxer Rebellion - each volume represents one side of the war: The converted Chinese Christians versus the rural peasants. For more on this graphic novel, suggesting paired readings,  and teaching/discussion suggestions, please visit Using Graphic Novels in Education: Boxers and Saints.


Dragons Beware! by Rafael Rosado and Jorge Aguirre is about a girl who just wont fit the mold - she wants to get dragon who ate her father's leg and his legendary sword. As we read on, however, we realize that as usual, life (and in this case Claudette's quest) is not as simple as it seems. This book is wonderful fun about a spunky tomboy we cant help but love.

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http://cbldf.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/coverquote.jpgDrama by Raina Telgemeier  While Drama has received numerous honors and starred reviews (YALSA's Top Ten Graphic Novel for Teens; NPR recommended it as one of the "Five Great Summer Reads for Teens"; Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2012; Washington Post Best Book of 2012; New York Times Editors' Choice and the Stonewall Book Award - to name a few) it was one of the most frequently challenged books in America in 2014. Strangely, while being challenged for being 'sexually explicit,' the story is set in a middle school and has no sex at all. The book, all about life in middle school has a diverse cast of characters and its story centers around the kids in the drama club. For more on this graphic novel, suggesting paired readings,  and teaching/discussion suggestions, please visit Using Graphic Novels in Education: Drama.


El Deafo by Cece Bell is a 2015 Newbery Honor Book, it has received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and Publishers Weekly and is sure to win additional awards by the end of the year. It's a wonderfully empowering, warm and honest graphic memoir about how Ms. Bell lost her hearing, what it was like to learn to lip read, how she struggled to fit in while wearing a huge, bulky hearing aid, and how she ultimately found her super powers. For more on this graphic novel, suggesting paired readings,  and teaching/discussion suggestions, please visit Using Graphic Novels in Education: El Deafo.


Little White Duck: A Childhood in China by Na Liu and Andrés Vera Martínez is a collection of eight moving stories based on Na Liu's childhood in China during the 1970's and 80's.
Na Liu's personal story of life in China in the 1970's.

Lumberjanes by Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson and Brooke Allen is winner of the 2015 Eisner Award. It's about a diverse group of five friends, Jo, April, Mal, Molly and Ripley who are determined to have an awesome summer together despite the array of supernatural critters and bad guys who get in their way.

coverMarch by John Lewis, Andrew Ayden, and Nate Powell. It is a three book series. March  chronicles Lewis life from childhood until the present and the role he and others played in the Civil Rights movement.For more on March: Book 1, suggesting paired readings,  and teaching/discussion suggestions, please visit Using Graphic Novels in Education: March Book One. For more on March: Book 2, suggesting paired readings,  and teaching/discussion suggestions, please visitUsing Graphic Novels in Education: March Book Two.

http://cbldf.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/51LGrM5dxoL._SY344_BO1204203200_.jpgMs. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona is a Marvel rebook where in this more modern telling, Ms. Marvel is Kamala Khan, a 16-year old Muslim girl from Jersey City, New Jersey. It is a modern twist offering fun and diversity for tween readers and beyond, is a finalist for the first Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity, YALSA's Top Ten 2015 Graphic Novels for Teens and YALSA's 2015 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. For more on this graphic novel, suggesting paired readings,  and teaching/discussion suggestions, please visit Using Graphic Novels in Education: Ms. Marvel.


As always thanks for your visit.
Please leave your favorite kids' book or graphic novel dealing with diversity in the comments.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Cultivating Creativity

Creativity - Definition:
"[Creativity is] the process of sensing problems or gaps in information, forming ideas or hypotheses, testing, modifying these hypotheses and communicating the results. This process may lead to any one of many kinds of products - verbal and nonverbal, concrete and abstract." ~ Paul Torrance (Scholar of creativity, developer of The Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking).
WHAT WE AS PARENTS/TEACHERS/STUDENTS CAN DO TO FOSTER CREATIVITY:

Observe and Collect Ideas to serve as Springboards for Further Development: The best way to foster new ideas is to look around.  What are people doing and thinking?  How might you be able to take those ideas and observations and tweak them just a bit- tweak them in a way that adds or changes them?

Brainstorm: In order to create and innovate, one must not only observe gaps, but redefine and reframe questions that help shape and direct original thoughts from existing ones. To do this, one often needs to find and/or create "safe" environments to bounce ideas off of others.

Learn how to Evaluate Resources and Take Risks: Creativity involves learning how to connect with others, feel comfortable exploring, making mistakes, and learning both form additional resources and the mistakes we and others make.  This in turn, further develops higher-order thinking, encourages collaboration, and allows us to brainstorm and grow.

Creativity in the Classroom/Home: Here are some ways parents and teachers can foster and promote creativity at home and in the classroom:
  • Encourage project-based learning - where kids search for, define, research and resolve "questions" or pressing issues they find in their world around them;
  • Encourage Creative Team Building by grouping and regrouping assignments with different partners so they learn how to create 'safe' thinking environments with many different partners.
  • Create 'safe' creative spaces to foster brainstorming, risk taking, and idea sharing.
  • Build in open-ended 'Brainstorming Time' into your curriculum.
  • Model creativity through creative, multi-modal lessons, discussions, and projects.
Classroom/Home Resources:
  • Book Creator  (for iPad, androids, and Windows - from redjumper.net) empowers students (K-12) to create and share their own ebooks, PDFs and iBooks. This app gives students just enough options to make it friendly for young learners and dynamic for older students.
  • Shadow Puppet Edu (for iPads- from get-puppet.co) - empowers students (K-8) to create videos combining photos, videos, maps, narration, and music, and even overlay text drawn on the screen as a means of creating and relaying content information and creative story ideas.
  • Thinklink (for iPhone, iPad and Android - from thinklink.com) empowers students to create greetings, interactive photos and slides by adding video, music, notes, and text to images and maps.
  • Pixton (for Macs, iPhones, iPads, Androids and Windows from pixton.com) empowers kids and adults to create comics, graphic novels, and sequential art stories and presentations. Pixton for Schools even has grading and assessment tools and has a 'record voice-over' option to enhance learning.
 With all this in mind, I want to leave you with two things.
  • Additional links (below); and 
  • This zenpencil rendering of James Rhodes "Is that not Worth Exploring." In addition to providing means and channels of creative exploration, we have to model and inspire.  Here's a clip that will hopefully inspire you to do just that (from Kevin Smith via ZenPencils):

 Additional links and resources:

As always, thank you for your visit.
Please leave your suggestions on creating creative moments, spaces, and opportunities in the comments below.

Monday, June 29, 2015

YAHOO!!!! San Diego Comic-Con 2015

Image result for san diego comic con 2015San Diego's International Comic Convention - or "Comic-con" is taking place a bit earlier than usual. In two weeks, hundreds of thousand of pop-culture, television, movie, comic, and super hero fans will descend for swag, glimpses of the upcoming studio events, cosplay, and more.

What's different this year?
  • There will be a free day on Thursday, July 9th at the San Diego Central Library where graphic novel creators, authors, illustrators, librarians and educators will spend the afternoon talking about reading, writing, and using graphic novels in the classroom.
  • There will be a free day on Saturday, July 11th at the San Diego Central Library where publishers will have panels open to the public.
  •  While a handful of powerhouse Hollywood studios (including Marvel Studios and Paramount) will not be on the convention floor, there will be a larger presence for Warner Brothers and its unveiling of its DC Cinematic Universe, Hunger Games: MockingJay Part 2, Scooby-Doo, Justice League: Gods and Monsters (to name a few), as well as sneak peaks for a host of new television series.

If you're there, come check out my five panels (the two on Thursday at the library are open admission):

THURSDAY, JULY 9TH

Content Literacy: Teaching History and Social Studies with Graphic Novels: From the Revolutionary War to current events, graphic novels pull readers into history. Comics have been shown to improve reader engagement while enhancing both comprehension and retention. And with the new emphasis on reading nonfiction, academic vocabulary, and reading in the subject areas, comics are more relevant than ever. Creators Nathan Hale (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales) and Jonathan Hennessey (The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation), educator Meryl Jaffe (CBLDF Using Graphic Novels in Education; Raising a Reader! How Comics and Graphic Novels Can Help Your Kids Learn to Read), and moderator Tracy Edmunds (Reading With Pictures) discuss the best in comics and graphic novels for teaching history and social studies, including recommended titles and lesson ideas. Thursday July 9, 2015 2:00pm - 3:00pm Shiley Special Events, San Diego Central Library

Comics Make Kids Smarter: Exploring Data-Driven Success in the Comics Classroom:Research shows that comics and graphic novels are motivating, support struggling readers, enrich the skills of accomplished readers and are a highly effective tool for teaching challenging material in a more efficient way. Educators Meryl Jaffe (CBLDF Using Graphic Novels in Education; Raising a Reader! How Comics and Graphic Novels Can Help Your Kids Learn to Read), Ronell Whitaker (Dwight D. Eisenhower High School, Blue Island, IL), Eric Kallenborn (Alan B. Shepard High School Palos Heights, IL), and Tracy Edmunds (Reading With Pictures), creator John Green (Teen Boat), and moderator Tom Racine (host of Tall Tale Radio) will explore and explain the research behind the comics in the classroom movement and what it could mean for the future of the medium in the classroom. Thursday July 9, 2015 3:00pm - 4:00pm Shiley Special Events, San Diego Central Library

FRIDAY, JULY 10TH:

CBLDF: Comics and The Real World: Using Graphic Novels as Tools of Tolerance:Jimmy Gownley (The Dumbest Idea Ever, Amelia Rules!), Jonathan Hennessey (The United States Constitution, Gettysburg), Aron Steinke (The Zoo Box), Cecil Castellucci (Odd Duck, The Plain Janes), Eric Kallenborn (Alan B. Shepard High School Palos Heights, IL), Betsy Gomez (CBLDF), Tracy Edmunds (Reading With Pictures), and moderator Meryl Jaffe, Ph.D. (Raising a Reader! How Comics and Graphic Novels Can Help Your Kids Learn to Read) demonstrate how graphic novels can be used to teach and empower students to feel, access and comprehend historical and cultural events, as well as more fully understand diverse figures in history and fiction and even grasp concepts in science and math. There will be lesson and reading suggestion handouts and time for Q and A. Friday July 10, 2015 1:00pm - 2:00pm Convention Center Room 30CDE
SATURDAY, JULY 11TH:
Kids' Graphic Novel Burgeoning Frontier: Kids with Disabilities Cece Bell (El Deafo), Doug TenNapel (Nnewts; Cardboard), Dave Elliott (A is for Autism; A1), John Shableski (Udon Entertainment), Talia Hurwich (Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth), and moderator Meryl Jaffe (CBLDF Using Graphic Novels in Education) discuss the real-life heroes comics still need to embrace: kids with disabilities. They'll evaluate how graphic novels are beginning to tell stories about kids with disabilities, illness and handicaps, and how others with great stories can be heard.Saturday July 11, 2015 10:00am - 11:00am Convention Center Room 28DE

CBLDF: Comics in the Classroom: Real-World Ideas for Engaging Your Students with Comics  Comics are more than just great entertainment, they're an incredible tool for learning. Creators Cecil Castellucci (Odd Duck, The Plain Janes), Nathan Hale (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales), Matthew Holm (Babymouse, Squish), Matt Phelan (The Storm in the Barn, Bluffton), and Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy, Jax Epoch and the Quicken Forbidden) and educators Rose Brock and Dr. Meryl Jaffe discuss how comics can be used to engage students in the classroom. Get real-world suggestions for ways to integrate comics in the classroom, to expand on lessons with comic-based activities, and to encourage student participation. They'll also have lesson and reading suggestion handouts and time for Q&A. Moderated by CBLDF editorial director Betsy Gomez.Saturday July 11, 2015 12:00pm - 1:00pm  Convention Center Room 30CDE
As always, thanks for your visit.  Please leave reactions or just say "Hi!" in the comments below.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Wahoolazooma! What a Wonderful World

In honor of ABCWednesday's Round 16 "W" Week, this post takes a closer look at the Beanworld series by Larry Marder... Wahoolazooma!

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Beanworld is a weird fantasy dimension operating under its own rules and laws. Beanworld is all about the affinity of life. All the characters, whether they are friends or adversaries, understand that ultimately they depend on each other for survival… It’s not just a place, it’s a process. It is what it is — and th-that’s all folks.’” –Larry Marder, Beanworld
“Beanworld is an all-too-rare experience in comics, or in any medium for that matter — a truly collaborative effort between creator and audience. Stored in Larry’s deceptively simple artwork is a treasure chest of ideas and emotion, waiting to be unlocked by the reader. Our experiences and perceptions are the key that unlocks that chest. But each of us has a different key and each key works in a different way, leading us to a different treasure… It reminded me of the joy of learning a new language, and how that joy had eluded me lately… I can’t tell you what you’ll discover… But I guarantee that whatever you find, it’ll be worth the search. –Scott McCloud Introduction to Beanworld Boston, MA Spring 1989

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Larry Marder, Beanworld
BACKGROUND AND OVERVIEW

The first issue of Beanworld was published in 1985, and the series ran 21 issues until 1993. The series was revived in February 2009 and is now published by Dark Horse Comics in deluxe hardcover editions. Wahoolazuma (February 2009) reprinted the first nine issues. A Gift Comes! came out in July 2009, and a new one-shot comic came out in December 2008. A third hardcover volume, Remember Here When You Are There! came out in November 2009, with all new material. Further volumes are planned.

Marder notes that his work has been strongly influenced by Marcel Duchamp and this is obvious on many levels. This in itself is worthy of lessons integrating art, history, and the art and magic of storytelling.

The MOMA (Museum of Modern Art, NYC), which exhibits several Duchamp pieces, introduces Duchamp with the following excerpt:
French painter, sculptor and writer. The art and ideas of Duchamp, perhaps more than those of any other 20th-century artist, have served to exemplify the range of possibilities inherent in a more conceptual approach to the art-making process. Not only is his work of historical importance — from his early experiments with Cubism to his association with Dada and Surrealism — but his conception of the ready-made decisively altered our understanding of what constitutes an object of art. Duchamp refused to accept the standards and practices of an established art system, conventions that were considered essential to attain fame and financial success: he refused to repeat himself, to develop a recognizable style or to show his work regularly. It is the more theoretical aspects implicit to both his art and life that have had the most profound impact on artists later in the century, allowing us to identify Duchamp as one of the most influential artists of the modern era. (Oxford University Press, 2009)

From the chapter “Larry Marder Building Bridges” in Comic Book Rebels: Conversations with the Creators of the New Comics (edited by Stanley Wiaterand and Stephen Bissette; Donald I. Fine, Inc., 1993):
Beanworld is the exact opposite of most modern comics. The artwork is really simple and the storyline’s quite complex. Most comics have complicated artwork supporting very simple storylines… Obviously Beanworld works on two levels… like Rocky and Bullwinkle the sense that there are many levels of complexity the reader can draw from the story, but the surface level is accessible enough for children to enjoy it, which is something that took me completely by surprise.
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Larry Marder, Beanworld

Larry Marder’s Beanworld looks at life with an unusual lens that allows us to reflect as well as laugh at its perplexities, its challenges, and all its wonderful quirks. Its packed panels offer readers a refreshing look at life, while the playful language and illustrations teach us all about balance — balancing the fun, balancing the love, balancing individuality and community, and balancing responsibilities.

What life’s ultimate secret is, however, may be different for each of us, but it’s all here for us to discover! That said,  Beanworld is a combination of pure fun with its wonderful world play (like “Hoka-hoka Gunk’l’dun,” “Wahoolazuma,” Chowdown Time, and lots of goof-off days) and with its fabled origins embedded in a tribal mythology. While it may take some time to learn the specific language of Beanworld, the series is at once deep as it is simplistic. It is fantasy, allegory, and real life. As the life, trials, and tribulations of Beanworld’s inhabitants unfold, we learn:
  • How to balance diversity and individuality on a personal level, on a communal level, and on an ecological level;
  • How to keep personal interests and passions alive while meeting the pressing responsibilities that come living in a self-sustaining community;
  • How to be creative in variety of different ways:
  • How partnerships and teamwork are formed and used to the benefit of all;
  • How everything in life has balances, realizing everything has a cost;
  • How the healthiest communities and business deals are those where everyone receives some benefit — even when there is some form of loss involved;
  • How compassion and appreciation are more effective than violence;
  • How issues of parenting, conservation of resources, of diplomacy, and of supply and demand are best met openly and honestly

SERIES SUMMARY

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Larry Marder, Beanworld

Beanworld: Wahoolazuma! introduces us to the life, characters, and ways of Beanworld. Beanworld consists of an island surrounded by the Thin Lake and supported (both literally and figuratively) by the Four Realities (slats, hoops, twinks, and chips), which Professor Garbanzo has learned to fashion into useful tools. Below the Four Realities is the Bone Zone, followed by the Hoi-Polloi Ring Herd, and finally, Der Stinkle. Every zone, being, and product plays an integral role in this ecosystem.

For most Beans in Beanworld, life consist of “hunting” for Chow, which sustains them, and engaging in Goof-off Days where they can pursue their individual interests and passions. A select few, like Professor Garbanzo, Beanish, and the Boom’r Band have their respective specialized jobs and don’t participate in Chow raids.

The hunters or Chow Sol’jers are led by Mr. Spook with his trusty Fork and a freshly-caught Sprout-Butt. This motley crew regularly jump into the Thin Lake and pass through the Four Realities to the Hoi-Poloi. While spears are flung at the smallest ring to distract and ultimately breach the Hoi-Polloi ring surrounding their cherished Chow, the Chow-Pluk’rs pluck the chow from under them. However, to guarantee some form of balance and “fairness,” the Beans leave the new Sprout-Butt as payment for the ‘pluck’d’ chow. We also learn, however, that the Beans and Hoi-Polloi are not without other external challenges and threats.

page4Beanworld: A Gift Comes! continues the evolving Beanworld narrative with the birth of its next generation of Beans, the Pod’l’pool Cuties,. In this volume, Mr. Spook must come to grips with the loss of his Fork (destroyed by the Goofy Service Jerks). In this second volume, we learn about childhood and child raising. We learn about Mr. Spook’s “problemed childhood” and how, with the help of Mr. Teach’m (who raised him on a cloud), Mr. Spook was mentored to be a hero. We also learn how Professor Garbanzo first discovered the Four Realities, and we continue to see the benefits of “the arts.”

Beanworld: Remember Here When You Are There! is described as the conclusion to Beanworld’s “Springtime Cycle.” In this third installment of the Beanworld story, the plot and its characters continue to bloom and grow. The Pod’l’pool Cuties are leaving their pool and learning the ways of Beanworld. In his evolving love story, Beanish toils over his love song to Dreamishness, and we see the long-awaited return of Heyoka (a Bean who one day simply left), and the Big Fish (who first gave Mr. Spook his fork). There are many more twink discoveries, and we learn more about the past with hints of the future.

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Larry Marder, Beanaworld

TEACHING/DISCUSSION SUGGESTIONS: Note that more teaching and discussion suggestions can be found at http://cbldf.org/2015/05/using-graphic-novels-in-education-beanworld/

Plot, Themes, and Values Related
  • Discuss the individuality of each of the Beanworld characters and how they work together (even when at odds) for the benefit of the Bean society. Discuss and evaluate their relationships and interdependence.
  • Chart, discuss, and evaluate the different parables of life one might garner from these three books, and the unimposing way they’re presented.
  • Discuss and evaluate the Cycle of Life in Beanworld and how it does or does not relate to your community.
  • Throughout this series, while the various communities and cultures coexist, there are threats and secrets. Discuss how these secrets may threaten Beanworld. Discuss when and why it’s important to keep secrets and when and why it’s important to divulge secrets. How does one recognize those times?
  • Discuss and evaluate Mr. Spook’s dependence on his Fork. Discuss how he comes to grips with its loss. Discuss what things your students come to depend upon and how they might deal with their loss.
  • Evaluate the roles of art and music throughout the series. How does it compare to the role of art and music in your school/community?
  • Discuss the pros and cons of Goof-Off Day.
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Larry Marder, Beanworld

Critical Reading and Making Inferences
  • Throughout the Beanworld narrative, Marder makes references to various cultural icons, characters, and events. Search, research, and discuss these references. For example, many of the character names carry references and innuendos, and in Wahoolazuma (p. 101), the Professor says, “Alas poor twinks, we know you not.” Discuss this reference to Shakespeare, compare its use n Beanworld and in the original, and evaluate who affective it is here.
  • When discussing the cycle of life on and under Beanworld, Marder notes the Beans “steal but leave payment” when collecting their Chow from the Hoi-Polloi. Discuss and evaluate the ethics and effectiveness of this method of survival for both cultures. Is it okay? Are there better ways to co-exist?
  • In Wahoolazuma, to learn from the Ho-Polloi, Professor Garbanzo challenges them to a riddle. One Hoi-Polloi says, “She’s gonna ask a STUPID question ‘cuz she’s a STUPID bean!” Another asks, “How will we decide if it’s a stupid question?” and the first answers, “If it has a stupid answer, of course!” Discuss if there is such a thing as a stupid question. How does one define or identify “stupid questions”?
  • Marder devotes a good part of A Gift Comes to the raising of the Cuties. Discuss and evaluate the Beans’ parenting and Cutie-raising techniques.
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Larry Marder, Beanworld
Language, Literature, and Language Usage
  • Search and discover Marder’s wonderful wordplay throughout the series. You may want to have students create their own additions to Marder’s created language.
  • Identify puns, alliteration, invented worlds, and play on words. You may want students to work on teams to search for these gems, and then create some of their own examples.

Cultural Heritage and Cultural Diversity
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Larry Marder, Beanworld
  • Following the warning, the narrator says, “Mr. Spook doesn’t understand the WARNING SONG. Instead, he hears an awful insect noise…TOTAL DIPLOMATIC FAILURE!” Discuss the diplomatic failure here, and compare this example to examples from your communities, from history, or from current events.
  • Discuss the social structure of Beanworld, and compare it to various social/cultural structures in our world today.
Science and Technology
  • Discuss and evaluate the Professor’s use of scientific method as she investigates the forms, functions, and uses of the Four Realities. Then brainstorm, invent, and experiment to come up with their own new Four Realities materials.
  • Discuss and evaluate the subtle and overt ecological messages throughout the narrative. What can we learn from Beanworld?
  • Discuss and evaluate the low-tech culture of Beanworld versus our own modern hi-tech culture. What are the strengths and challenges of each?
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Larry Marder, Beanworld
Modes of Storytelling and Visual Literacy
In graphic novels, images are used to relay messages with and without accompanying text, adding additional dimension to the story. In Beanworld Larry Marder brilliantly weaves story and background with image, and emotions and insights through text, image, and design. Reading Beanworld together with your students allows you to analyze, discuss, and learn how Marder uses page and panels, text and images to relay complex messages. For example:
  • While the images seem simplistic, they carry tremendous depth and detail. Evaluate and discuss Marder’s use of facial expressions and body language to relay information.
  • Evaluate and discuss how very small differences (to hair, size, face, hats, chips, arms and legs, for example) distinguish these deceivingly simplistic Beans.
  • Evaluate and discuss how Marder uses chunky shapes and patterns in his two-dimensional world that is altogether real and engaging.
  • Analyze how his choice of font, design, panel size and shape are all used to relay different character moods.
  • Marder also plays a lot with the borders of his panels. Discuss why certain panel formats change when they change, and evaluate what this is trying to tell the reader.
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Larry Marder, Beanworld
Suggested Prose, Graphic Novel and Poetry Pairings
Relaying suggested paired readings is particularly challenging for Beanworld. Beanworld is, as noted, a “most peculiar comic book experience,” and as Scott McCloud notes of its thousands of readers, “all left thinking different things.” As a result, suggesting paired readings is difficult because Beanworld is appropriate for so many different readers from tweens through adulthood. That said, for greater discussion on literary style, related themes, similar characters and/or content here are some book suggestions you may want to pair and read:
  • Bone by Jeff Smith — a different series of engaging characters that reflect the wisdoms and peculiarities of life’s challenges.
  • Frederick by Leo Leoni — a picture book (for the younger spectrum of Beanworld readers) about life and importance of the arts.
  • Watership Down by Richard Adams — a timeless classic set in England’s Downs about the courage and survival of a warren of rabbits.
  • Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin A Abbott — a delightfully different and equally “peculiar” reading experience of residents of two-dimensional Flatland (teens and older).
  • The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (all readers) — about a tree (much like Gran’Ma’Pa) who gives all it can give to one particular boy.
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WAHOOLAZOOMA!!!!! Give this series a try.

AND....As always, thank you for your visit.

Please leave your parting reactions in the comments below.

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Larry Marder, Beanworld

Sunday, May 31, 2015

BEA 2015: Unveiling Kids' Reads for Summer and Fall 2015

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Image: theconfessors.wordpress.com
This past week, I spent three tantalizing days walking the aisles of New York City's Javits Center at BEA - Book Expo of America's 2015 Convention.

This year BEA ran its convention from Wednesday through Friday, making way for BookCon which was open to the public over the weekend.

BEA had 600+ authors autographing over three very packed days. They had Book and Author Breakfasts and a BEA Bloggers Conference packed with education, extreme networking and more. This year,  Chinese publishers were featured exhibitors as they joined 996 other exhibitors. There were free "ARCs" (Advanced Reader Copies) of books to be published later this year, along with some great totes and fun swag.

I focused on Kids' books and graphic novels, and through I'd share some news about some awesome looking reads coming out later this year for kids, young adults and older.

Unveiling some exciting graphic novels featured at BEA:


Image result for the golden compass: The Graphic Novel
  • Hilo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth by Judd Winick (to be released in September - for grades 3+)  is about Hilo, D;J. and Gina.  Hilo doesn't know where he came from or what he's doing on Earth but it seems he isn't the only "visitor." Together, Hilo, D.J., and Gina unlock the secrets of Hilo's past and as he tries to survive his first day of school and learns why going to school in only one's underwear is a bad idea.
  • Little Robot by Ben Hatke - (to be released in September- for grades 2+) is the story of a girl who happens upon a box, opens it, and finds a 'baby?' robot. She helps him with is first steps, and like a baby duckling, the robot appears to bond to her.  There are, however, forces that want to separate this team.  This is their story.
  • Space Dumplins by Craig Thompson (to be released in September) is fun graphic novels for young readers about a girl on a mission to save her dad.
  • Sunny Side Up by Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm (to be released in August). This is a WONDERFUL, empowering graphic memoir with an important message and a must read for middle school readers.
  • The Golden Compass:The Graphic Novel Volume 1 by Philip Pullman, Adapted and illustrated by Stephane Melchior-Durand and Clement Oubrerie (to be released in September)
Image result for space dumplings by craig thompson



For Adults - I saw a preview of Trashed (to be released November, 2015) a graphic novel by Derf Backderf that looked awesome.  It is the story of trash collectors (Derf used to work as a sanitation engineer) and has plenty of snark, scoops of what it's really like out there, and some sobering facts about how we live and deal with waste. 


Unveiling some exciting UNgraphic novels (or regular novels for tweens/teens and YA):
  • Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar (to be released in August) is a middle-grade novel that blends elements of mystery, suspense, and school-day life as a small group of students whose trip into the woods leads to a surprise encounter with 'fuzzy mud'.  This substance poses health risks to the kids and their community as Sachar's cautionary tale addressing our insatiable hunger for energy resources unfolds.
  • It Came From Ohio! My Life as a Writer by R.L. Stine as told to Joe Arthur and Susan Lurie.  As R.L. Stine notes in the front, "Dear Readers: I had so much fun with this book, it's FRIGHTENING! I hope you enjoy y life as much as I have! Scary Best Wishes, RL Stine." That pretty much says it all by the author of Goosebumbs series.
  • The Marvels by Brian Selznick (to be released September 15, 2015 grade 5+) is the wonderful story told with breathtaking illustrations and prose that covers three generations of sailors, of theatre and a family mystery that is finally revealed. The Marvels promised to follow in the footsteps of The Invention of Hugo Cabret  and  Wonderstruck with promises of much more!
  •  Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff  (to be released October 20, 2015) is an incredible science fiction 599 page romp that is the first in a series of three.  I literally couldn't put this down (and am not an avid sci-fi can).  The dialogue is crisp and snarky, the characters are wonderfully developed and the authors play with some incredible graphic design to help tell their story.  
 Image result for fuzzy mudImage result for The Marvels by brian selznickImage result for it came from ohio my life as a writerImage result for illuminae


That's it for now, I have other gems (The Finisher by David Baldacci, I am Pricess X by Cherie Priest; The Last Kids on Earth by Max Brallier; The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra by Vaseem Khan, to name a few) but haven't vetted them yet.  Maybe for "V" week at ABCWednesdays, I'll have a few more wonderful books to unveil.

As always, I thank you for your visit.
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