Stone Arch Books pride themselves in publishing safe graphic novels for young readers. A parent does not need to worry that an objectionable illustration or theme will pop up in a seemingly innocent looking book.
My FIRST Graphic Novels is a set of beginning books for Grades K-2, new for 2009, each with a different sport's theme, and the books each feature either a boy or girl as the main character. The first pages show how exactly to read a graphic novel; what order to read the panels and the balloons. These books have a lot of narrative rectangles, a smaller amount of word bubbles and plenty of sound effects. All of the words are written in proper lowercase sentence structure with all-caps reserved for the sound effect words. This is especially appreciated as children often find all-caps more difficult to read and for some reason, comic books and graphic novels are most likely to use an all-cap text throughout.
Each book also ends with an about the author and illustrator section, a short glossary of words presented that the child may not be familiar with, a page of Discussion Questions and one of Writing Prompts and a website where kids can go to find more info on the subject at hand. All of the above make these books also very useful in a homeschool or classroom setting.
Goalkeeper Goof by Cari Meister. Illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld. RL: 1.4. This book was especially appealing to my soccer playing son. David is great at kicking, dribbling and running but when his turn comes up as goalie he always misses the ball causing the other kids on the team to nickname him "Goalkeeper Goof". The coach gives David some good advice and he finds that he can save the ball when he tries. The book introduces the topics of name-calling, turning the other cheek, and paying attention to the task at hand. The 8yo (a struggling reader) read this book wonderfully with hardly any problem with words. He also enjoyed the story very much being a soccer player himself. As a parent, I found the graphic presentation of the book very accessible to a young reader. The illustrations are also very well done, bright and bold, and the characters are shown as belonging to a variety of ethnic groups. 5/5
The End Zone by Lori Mortensen. Illustrated by Mary Sullivan. (RL: 2.0) With just a slightly higher reading level than the previous book read in this series, this one was a bit harder for the 8yo to read. But the story was so interesting that it kept his interest and enthusiasm. The boys don't let Olivia play flag football with them but one day one of the boys is sick and calls her to take his place. This is her big chance! She takes her place on the team, has a great time and the boys appreciate her as a good player. Neither my son nor I had ever heard of flag football, so we had to wait until Dad came home to ask him and then ds got all the answers he was looking for! The theme that girls can do the same as boys is obvious but it wasn't "in your face" and handled very well. Boys and girls will enjoy this one. My son thoroughly read this with pleasure, and as a struggling reader there is nothing more I can ask for than books at his reading level that hold his almost 9yo interests. 5/5
After this sample of two of Stone Arch Books' graded graphic novels we are very eager to read more of their books and were fortunate enough to have received a box full of 2009 releases in March for review purposes. So watch out for more reviews to come!
The complete line of My FIRST Graphic Novel series, newly published in early 2009 are:
The Goalkeeper Goof
The End Zone
Lily's Lucky Leotard
The Kickball Kids
and six more are coming out in August and each will have a vehicle theme from trains to scooters!