Archive for ‘read alouds’

February 26, 2014

Comics Jam hits: The Monster on the Hill, by Rob Harrell

monsteronthehill_lg-540x713

I’m always looking for great comics for  our monthly ‘Comics Jam’.   This is a program once a month where we use a video camera to project comics up onto a big screen, and then animate the story by reading aloud in character voices.  Kids occasionally help out with the voice-acting on short excerpts, but if a story is really good I’ll take over and we’ll read until the time or runs out (or my voice does).   In these stories what we’re really looking for is a tale that grabs the audience’s attention well enough that they want to pick up where they left off and show up next month as well.

Snappy dialogue, good humor, fast paced plot,  interesting characters — these are all elements that draw a loyal audience.  More so even than stellar draftsmanship, though of course that doesn’t hurt at all.   In January and February’s Comics Jam  we blazed through a good one, with all of the elements above:   Rob Harrell’s charming The Monster on the Hill.

The year is 1867.  England is infested with monsters.   Tentaculor roars through the small burg of Billingswood, terrorizing the villagers and leaving destruction in his tracks.  And this is no isolated incident:   Monsters!  Beasts!  Horrors!  Every town has them, a fact that excites the imagination of the populace and enlivens their humdrum days with the chance of excitement.

Well every town has it’s own monster, but some lack the verve and glamor of others.   Stoker-on-Avon has a bit of a problem in that department.  Their monster isn’t– well– all that monstrous.  Bit of a disappointment really.  Hasn’t given a proper rampage in years.  It’s something of an embarrassment when you get down to it.  Something must be done.

“Something’ comes in the form of disgraced local inventor Dr Charles Wilkie, who has been barred by the town fathers from practicing his trade due to a spate of awkward incidents and failed experiments.    In the name of killing two birds with one stone, the town fathers decide he’s just the man to solve the problem of the hangdog dragon.  If he fails, perhaps he’ll be eaten, if he succeeds well fine then he will be allowed to re-open his laboratory.  Either way his problem will be solved.  Packing up a trunk he hauls himself to the hinterlands seeking the lair of the monster…

read more »

November 17, 2013

Smash: Trial by Fire, by Chris & Kyle Bolton

SMASH-Cover-500

Good-hearted but impulsive kid contracts super-powers, tries his best — but being a hero is never easy.

We featured this book at our most recent Comics Jam, projecting the book up on the screen to read with the kiddies of the after-school crowd.  A fun read-aloud, the dialogue is clever and funny, the story lopes along at an easy pace once it gets rolling.  The feel is something of a cross between Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Spider-man — though unlike Greg Heffler (protagonist of the Wimpy Kid series) fun-sized hero Andrew Ryan isn’t, you know, a jerk.  He’s a good kid who idolizes the local superhero named Defender, trying to live up to his example.  Even without powers Andrew attempts to make his world a better place, to confront bullies or  help kids in need (in one sequence attempting some dashing derring-do involving a tire swing to rescue Halloween candy from the greedy clutches of sidewalk goons — with the usual disastrous results).

read more »

October 4, 2013

Paul Pope visits Thurs Oct 10 7:30. Also review of Battling Boy!

Comix maestro Paul Pope (Batman: Year 100) debuts the  long-awaited ‘Battling Boy’:   Teen gods and science heroes vs the monsters,  Thursday OCT 10 at 7:30 in the kids room.

Artists, critics, and comics aficionados will tell you there’s no one quite like Paul Pope working in American comics today.    With his hyperkinetic line contrasting with strong lush inkwork his panels alternately brood and slouch or animate themselves on the page, fizzing and hissing with energy.  He has produced well received independent and adult titles (see Heavy Liquid, 741.5973 POPE in our catalog) or worked new creative angles on big name projects (critically acclaimed Batman: Year 100 — 741.5973 BATMAN).

BATTLING BOY

BattlingBoy-optimized 100-96

In Battling Boy Pope he gets to play with a lighter touch, creating a coming-of-age heroes tale starring teen gods, action-science soldiers, and a world overrun with huge monsters and nasty boogeymen.  He allows himself to play in a realm that harkens back to the pulp science fantasy stories of a more innocent era (Flash Gordon, or works by Jack Kirby) while keeping a contemporary feel.

read more »

September 28, 2011

Top 15 list for Reluctant Readers, and how to ‘Comics Jam’!

Here is another letter from a school media person:

Hello,
I’m planning on introducing a reluctant reader group to graphic novels and I am thusly wondering what would be your first 15-20 buys?  

I am planning on introducing the titles and then letting the boys select one title then maybe next session having them report on their book.

Do you have any experience with reading groups, and if so does this seem like a format that would work, or should I run it differently?

read more »