Holly Valentine | February 2022
C.A.T.C.H. a Spark!
Kindness. It’s what February is all about, isn’t it? It’s the perfect month to take a step back and think about what really matters. This month’s books are mostly graphic novels for all ages, but they are so much more than graphic novels. They inspire conversation while tapping into a different conversation. And there is one that while not a traditional graphic novel, is also not a traditional novel. It combines words and poetry in a way that is so important for all students. What do books do, regardless of their style? They spark creativity and thought. These six are no exception.
Ain’t Burned All the Bright
Where to even begin with this book. A book unlike any other that has been published to date. It is a combination of art and text. Don’t let the 384 pages deter you. At first glance, you might think it could probably be read in 30 minutes or less because it is comprised of just three sentences. But there is so much more to it, and this is far from a light read. It is an important read. This is a book that will be read and re-read. Graphics will be analyzed, metaphors debated, conversations started. A book that challenges the hard topics that we have all been dealing with over the last two years: quarantine, sickness, racism, isolation. It heavily carries the idea of breathing: what oxygen is, and where we get it from. How do we really breathe?
This book is so important, and should not be missed by anyone in middle school and up. It is multi-dimensional, from the art, to the poetry, to the context and more. Not to be missed is the interview with the author and the illustrator at the end of the book. It is a whole other level of inspiration after reading the book. Written by Jason Reynolds.
Every Little Kindness
It feels like we all need to give and recognize kindness now more than ever. In this wordless graphic novel, young students will be exposed not only to a circle story, but to the theme of kindness and the ripple effect it can have. There is no act of kindness too small, and very often, it effects people in ways we cannot imagine or ever fully understand. Told cleverly through a purposeful use of color, students will read this book repeatedly, tracking the details through the story. This book will help even the youngest of readers feel like a reader, spark creativity, and build inferencing skills. Written by Marta Bartolj.
Graphic novels for intermediate readers can be tricky to find, and this one is a delight. Jo is a lonely little girl and summer vacation has just started. Pawcasso shows up every Saturday all alone, does his shopping, and attends an art class. When the two encounter each other and strike up an unusual friendship, Jo suddenly find herself with everything she ever wanted, even though it isn’t real. It can’t hurt anything to just go along with the misconception, can it? And at the heart of the story are the concepts of love and hate. How do they happen, where do they start? This charming graphic novel will have readers rooting for Jo, and smiling at the loveable Pawcasso. Written by Remy Lai.
Drew is a girl who loves to draw doodles. However, her doodles come to life and can be quite mischievous. After the Doodles cause a bit of trouble at the Art Institute of Chicago, Drew creates a new character she meant to be friendly, but she accidentally made him a monster. The more upset Drew becomes (as doubt and fear enter her head) the more trouble her creation causes. It is only when her art club friends and their own creations band together that she will be able to tame her monster. With an important note of inspiration from the author at the end of the story, this graphic novel will grab even the reluctant readers, and those readers that love fantasy stories. There is no doubt readers will want to start doodling on their own, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that! Written by Chad Sell.
Who hasn’t thought of what it would be like to really see a dinosaur? Sybil’s neighbor is a dinosaur, but no one realizes it except for her. Set in the busy, bustling New York City, is it possible for Bolivar to continue living unnoticed in a city with so many people? Readers will fall in love with Bolivar and rather than being scared of a dinosaur, they will fall in love with him and route for his success. A statement on how we listen to children as well as the fact that we all get so wrapped up in our daily lives, we often fail to notice the big things happening right in front of us. Bolivar is destined to become a classic literary character for children, with his quiet and lovable personality, right along with Clifford the Big Red Dog or Horton the Elephant. Written by Sean Rubin.
There are not too many little girls that don’t dream about being a ballerina at some point in their lives. Siena’s dream started when she was six on the braces of Puerto Rico and stayed with her straight through her debut performance with the New York City Ballet. A relatively untapped genre, this is a graphic memoir and a story of passion, determination and following your dreams which will capture the attention of all readers. It is a tale of hard work, sacrifice and love, with a scrapbook from the real Siena at the end of the book, filled with pictures, ticket stubs and photos of moments and milestones read about in the book. Written by Siena Cherson Siegel.
Kindness. It’s so important and goes so far. There are few better ways to connect to it and inspire students than through the world of books. Encourage reading of all kinds. Graphic novels are just as important and inspiriting to a wide range of readers, sparking creativity in ways you might not immediately realize.
Don’t be left in the dark – check out the previously published CATCH a Spark series!