Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Graphic Novels Galore

Ms. Muendel, Lawrence School's 7th and 8th grade English teacher, invited the Brookline Public Library's young adult librarian Robin Brenner to talk with her students about the "new" format called graphic novels (novels whose narratives are conveyed with a combination of art and text, like comic strips). Brenner is an expert, in the YA library field, in this format, and speaks with insight and humor about this adventurous and sometimes edgy style. Interestingly, a number of graphic works are historical or literary in nature, and Brenner brought sever al examples from the extensive collection at the public library. In Journey Into Mohawk Country, George O'Connor illustrates the actual diaries of Dutch trader Van den Bogaert, who traveled through New York's Indian territory in 1634, searching for a source of valuable beaver pelts; on the fantasy side, Good Witch of the West by Noriko Ogiwara evokes the Cinderella story as young Firiel heads off on a quest for the truth. To quote Brenner from an interview on "...[Graphic novels] are, without any qualifications, literature. They take a different kind of understanding to read than traditional literature, true. Processing the images and the text of a graphic novel together create a unique kind of literacy, and should not be considered any less than traditional reading." We expect to follow up on this presentation with a visit to the Young Adult Room at the main library, with the expectation that each student will possess a public library card in order to borrow good books!