Review: First Graphics: Volcanoes! and Earthquake!
These two hardback graphic novels, part of Capstone’s First Graphics: Wild Earth series, do a nice job of explaining basic earth science for young readers (the books have a reading level of K-3).
Each book is divided into three chapters. The first is an explanation of what the phenomenon is and what causes it. This is particularly well suited to a visual medium, as it’s much easier to show a picture of tectonic plates than to explain them. The next chapter goes into a bit more detail, and the final chapter is about how to stay safe when an earthquake hits or a volcano erupts. These manage to not be too alarmist. The writing is straightforward and informative.
The layouts are simple, with three or four panels on a two-page spread and one or two sentences per panel. There are only a few word balloons; most of the time, the information is presented as a panel with accompanying text. Still, the panels, the bright colors, and the linear style of art give these books a comic-book feel. It’s also worth mentioning that the people depicted are quite diverse in terms of gender and skin color.
Each book includes a glossary and suggestions for further reading, as well as a link to Capstone’s Facthound website, where you can input the book’s ISBN and get a list of additional resources, both websites and books. The selection is pretty limited, however. The back of the book is a guide to reading graphic novels.
The Wild Earth series also includes volumes on tornadoes and hurricanes.
These colorful little books do a good job of introducing the subject and conveying the basic facts; while they aren’t comics in the traditional sense of the word, the illustrations are as important as the text, and the two work together to get the points across.
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About Brigid Alverson
Brigid Alverson, the editor of the Good Comics for Kids blog, has been reading comics since she was 4. She has an MFA in printmaking and has worked as a book editor and a newspaper reporter; now she is assistant to the mayor of Melrose, Massachusetts. In addition to editing GC4K, she writes about comics and graphic novels at MangaBlog, SLJTeen, Publishers Weekly Comics World, Comic Book Resources, MTV Geek, and Good E-Reader.com. Brigid is married to a physicist and has two daughters in college, which is why she writes so much. She was a judge for the 2012 Eisner Awards.
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