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Inside Practically Paradise

The extra stuff in books and Stone Arch’s My 1st Graphic Novel

Monica Edinger and Wendy Burton posted on similar subjects Sunday regarding flap copy, acknowledgments, back matter, foreword, afterword, and author’s notes. A discussion of this continued on the Child Lit’s listserv.  

The impact of these extras to the text struck me while I was reading Secret Scooter written by Christianne C. Jones and illustrated by Mary Sullivan. Secret Scooter is part of the My 1st Graphic Novel: Transportation series  from Stone Arch Books. ©2010 ISBN: 9781434216199 released in Fall 2009. This series joins the My First Graphic Novel: Sports set released in Spring 2009 which was highly recommended by SLJ (School Library Journal; Vol. 55, No. 9; Page 188, September 2009) Other titles in this series include:

Airplane Adventure
Bella’s Boat Surprise
Bree’s Bike Jump
Dump Truck Day
Train Trip

The beginning of Secret Scooter contains two pages on "How to Read a Graphic Novel." Using the American form of graphic novels the instructions tell readers to read from left to right and from the top to the bottom. There are numbers indicating the order to read the dialogue on this sample page. 

The end of this book includes sections About the Author, About the Illustrator, Glossary, Discussion Questions, Writing Prompts, a colorful two page introduction to the series with other titles available in the series, and finally a colorful page directing readers to the Facthound / CapstoneKids website for more information. 

My first thought when I got to the end was "What?! You want to give me homework on this fun book? I don’t want any discussion questions and writing prompts. If this is for teachers, put it on the webpage. Don’t take up my kid space with work." 

I enjoyed reading Secret Scooter and highly recommend the My First Graphic Novel series to elementary schools. I do want to tell the author that I didn’t like the ending’s surprise. Give me a break! If I were viewing this secret scooter everyday and wondering where it went, I wouldn’t buy the ending at all. Give me (the me pretending to be the main character) more credit for observation and intelligence. 

While we watch this tendency to put more and more in books, I’d have to agree with both bloggers today. I don’t want to see teacher work at the back of my fiction title. I would like more nonfiction information for fiction titles that is relevant to the topic. I’d rather see the photos of scooter or some fun facts like how many miles per gallon a scooter gets or why it is friendlier to the earth than some forms of transportation. Facts like the cost of a scooter, rules for riding scooters, and their history are interesting to me. Writing prompts are not. 

How do you feel about the extras or as Ebony Thomas pointed out "the turn towards intertextuality"?