CM . . .
. Volume XVI Number 11. . . .November 13, 2009
Lake Monster Mix-Up is the second episode in the graphic novel "Sam and Friends Mystery Series" (see CM review of first episode by Gregory Bryan at http://www.umanitoba.ca/cm/vol15/no21/draculamadness.html). It follows Jennie and Sam (Jennie's dog) as they join their friend Beth at a local camp and stumble upon a diary that uncovers a mystery in the local lake. Being the intrepid explorers and detectives they are, the three detectives use the diary to discover the mysteries that lay at the bottom of the lake and within the dark confines of a nearby cave.
The graphic novel is illustrated with fairly detailed, yet uncluttered, grey-scale line drawings that are easy for young readers to decipher. As is the case with most North American graphic novels, the story progresses in panels from front to back (as opposed to back to front in Japanese Manga). Rarely does the number of panels move beyond three per page, and the progression follows a top to bottom, left to right format, allowing children with experience reading traditional English texts to follow the visual flow of the panels. Facial expressions are clear and carry a great deal of the story's tension and suspense.
The clarity in images also offers adult readers with numerous opportunities to educate children about conventions in graphic novels. For example, when Beth falls and rolls down a hill, her rolling motion is portrayed in multiple drawings of her arms which themselves are connected with 'windmilling' lines (see the internal image). Such images showing motion and other visual conventions portraying non-visual information (e.g., sound, movement, thoughts, etc.) can be used to introduce children to such 'new' communicative conventions.
Recommended with reservations.
Keith McPherson has been a primary and elementary teacher and teacher-librarian in BC since 1984 and is currently the coordinator of the Language and Literacy Education Research Centre at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC.
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