Please keep up with all of my old Graphic Novel Reviews here as I quest for 365 in 365 days! Or search #GN365 on Twitter.
Hey, all! No special theme this week, just some cool books that I’ve been waiting to tell you about!
Title: Kid Beowulf
Author(s): Alexis E. Fajardo
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing (2016)
Age Rating: 7+
I met Alexis Fajardo this past summer. Such a cool guy. And listening to him talk about his book and his process, you can tell that he seriously believes in Kid Beowulf, what it can do, and just how much fun he has creating it. I’ve met many creators and illustrators over the past five years of working the cons, and people rarely have the mix of natural talent and passion as I encountered with Alexis.
This is one of the most literary graphic novels that I have read that is geared toward younger readers. What Fajardo has created here is a complex world that makes no excuses for its complexity. Not only is Fajardo’s pacing fantastic through the three parts of book one, but the character development is extraordinary, feeling more Shakespearean than YA graphic novel. As a reader, we get the pleasure of watching how the relationships play out to the book’s third-act finale. I have yet to read book two, but I have no doubt the flow and story will be just as impressive.
The art is simple and fun, but the art’s true beauty lies in its ability to not trip up or interfere with the story, and with so much story being packed into the 191 pages, I’m impressed that nothing seems to get in the way of how much is here.
The back-matter is super cool too; Fajardo gives us a world map, key terms, character glossary, a family tree, origins of the original epic poem, drawing lessons, and more! Pair these resources with the teacher and reader guides and what you have is an amazing amount of resources to teach this book to a number of grade levels in the English, Reading, or Social Studies classroom.
The Teacher’s Guide focuses on grades 3-5, but when thinking about target readers of the series, I’d say…anyone. Seriously. Is it good for grades 3-5? Yep. But I loved it, and I’m 40. And I’ve already had a colleague ask to bring it home to his middle-school kids, and I know a few of my seniors that will eat it up! There’s something about good story that is ageless, and if you dig backstories of epic heroes with dragons and monsters, this one will be hard to pass up.
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