Wednesday, April 20, 2011
I remember (hey, I still have copies of) Choose-Your-Own Adventure books, where you pick options at the bottom of the page to direct the course of the story. Jason Shiga's Meanwhile takes this to a new level, as a graphic novel version that lets the story arc into many different directions, sometimes looping back to itself. This 2010 Finalist for the Cybils Graphic Novel (Middle Grade) does a great job of combining a graphic novel with an reader-driven adventure.
It takes a few minutes to master the reading process, since often a simple left-to-right panel read is completely wrong. Instead you follow the pipe, and on a few pages I became quite confused as to which direction I was going. My fourth grader once came over to help me out, in fact. But it was definitely worthwhile, since the stories and pictures were different enough to keep me interested. Different choices let to drastically different plots, let alone outcomes. And there was plenty of humor, both overt and sly, to keep me amused, from the spaghetti string paths to simulate flipping a coin to the mystery page in the center that plays with the Mad Scientist's crazy acronyms.
My sixth grader liked the book, but the fourth grader was enthralled. He brought the book to school and made multiple converts, so that I will be unable to renew my copy. He brought it to the school librarian in hopes that a few dollars remain in the school library budget. The other fourth grader also liked it, although her passion was not as deep, possibly because P kept stealing it back. A
The link to Amazon should support the Cybils committee, if anyone clicks. This would be a great gift for a middle-grade kid.