Adventures in Cartooning

by James Sturm (Author) James Sturm (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

In this action-packed cartooning adventure, kids will have as much fun making comics as reading them!

Once upon a time . . . a princess tried to make a comic. And with the help of a magical cartooning elf, she learned how - well enough to draw her way out of an encounter with a dangerous dragon, near-death by drowning, and into her very own adventure! Like the princess, young readers will discover that they already have the drawing and writing skills it takes to make a comic - they just need a little know-how. And Adventures in Cartooning supplies just that.


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School Library Journal

Starred Review
Gr 2-6 The young princess, thought to be ensconced in a tower, is missing. A "BRAVE and EAGER knight" and his less-than-fearless horse Edward learn that she has been abducted by a dragon and remains captive on Dragon Island. Assisted by the Magic Cartooning Elf, the knight goes in search of her. In this story within a story, the princess learns how to create her own cartoon. Basic principles of creating comics are taught by context, inference, and direct instruction. The humor, action, adventure, and charming characters hold readers' attention and draw them into a fantasy world of a candy-consuming dragon and knights who have been turned into vegetables. Readers learn about the uses of panels, the importance of words, and placement of thought balloons. Each tutorial panel contains clever and inventive touches that illustrate the capabilities of the format. The progression of the pink gum bubble on the first four pages is a classic. At the conclusion of this delightful tale, cartooning basics such as panels, gutters, tiers, word balloons, depiction of emotion, and movement are explained in an organized and straightforward fashion. This is a volume for kids who love comics, who enjoy an adventure filled with action and humor, are natural-born artists, or who aspire to become comic-book creators. A surefire hit." Barbara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY" Copyright 2009 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

Created by the Center for Cartoon Studies' director and two of his former students, this how-to-make-comics book for young readers takes a couple of unusual tacks. For one thing, it skips the usual rudiments of how to draw in favor of explaining the formal characteristics of comics: panels, balloons, lettering and so on. For another, it doubles as a storyabout a knight on a quest for a bubblegumchewing dragon, and the magic elf who teaches the knight all about the joy of cartooning. It's a cute premise, and the art's simple, bold brushstrokes and flat colors are zippy and fun. Sturm and company even sneak in a few comics in-jokes (when several characters fall into water, the elf exclaims I guess this would be called a SPLASH panel!). Unfortunately, the plot and the tutorial material repeatedly stumble over each other: the goofy twists in the story occasionally have a bit of instruction shoehorned in, but more often don't serve any educational purposeor simply seem like the result of stream-of-consciousness jam cartooning. And kids looking for cartooning guidance may be frustrated to find that the book takes its readers' ability to draw expressively for granted. "(Apr.)" Copyright 2009 Publishers Weekly Used with permission.

Review quotes

"Not quite a how-to book, as the cover might suggest, this is rather a stupendous new high for children's graphic novels, spearheaded by comics maestro Sturm (Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow, 2007). Ostensibly, this is the adventure of an eager knight, a sweet-toothed horse, and a magic elf hunting down a gum-chewing dragon, and those reading for the adventure itself will not be disappointed, filled as it is with humor, action, and a great girl-empowering twist. But along the way, lessons in the language of sequential art are woven seamlessly into the narrative, explaining the basics of how elements such as panels and word balloons work, while concluding bonus features offer specifics on terminology (like gutters and stems) and common symbols (like speed lines). Newcomers Andrew Arnold and Alexis Frederick-Frost, using varying page compositions to keep the sizable volume visually captivating, have constructed a tale that works just as well as a read-aloud for the very young as it does a lesson for everyone from fans of the form to the wholly uninitiated. As an examination of the medium, it's a supremely worthy spiritual legacy to Scott McCloud's seminal Understanding Comics (1993). As a straight-up graphic adventure, it may be the best of the year." —Starred Review, Booklist

"An insightful and enjoyable way for kids to learn about cartooning, presented in a vibrant graphic format. In fairy-tale fashion, the Magic Cartooning Elf helps a young princess with writer's block produce her first comic. A story-within-a-story emerges, and the princess creates a deceptively silly tale of a knight, a dragon, a whale and a horse that loves candy. Along the way, the Elf drops informative hints to the reader about the structure of the story, introducing basic elements of cartooning and rudimentary techniques. Though seemingly simplistic, this multilayered composition is an excellent teaching tool to whet the appetites of aspiring young doodlers and even offers a pleasant twist in an otherwise apparently straightforward plot. Against the abundance of vanilla graphic nonfiction for kids on the market, this is unexpectedly lively. Simple cartooning basics offered after the story are quite appealing; even the most reluctant artist may be inspired to pick up a pencil and give it a shot. Entertaining and surprisingly edifying. (Graphic nonfiction. 9-12)" —Kirkus Reviews

"Gr 2-6-The young princess, thought to be ensconced in a tower, is missing. A "BRAVE and EAGER knight" and his less-than-fearless horse Edward learn that she has been abducted by a dragon and remains captive on Dragon Island. Assisted by the Magic Cartooning Elf, the knight goes in search of her. In this story within a story, the princess learns how to create her own cartoon. Basic principles of creating comics are taught by context, inference, and direct instruction. The humor, action, adventure, and charming characters hold readers' attention and draw them into a fantasy world of a candy-consuming dragon and knights who have been turned into vegetables. Readers learn about the uses of panels, the importance of words, and placement of thought balloons. Each tutorial panel contains clever and inventive touches that illustrate the capabilities of the format. The progression of the pink gum bubble on the first four pages is a classic. At the conclusion of this delightful tale, cartooning basics such as panels, gutters, tiers, word balloons, depiction of emotion, and movement are explained in an organized and straightforward fashion. This is a volume for kids who love comics, who enjoy an adventure filled with action and humor, are natural-born artists, or who aspire to become comic-book creators. A surefire hit." —Barbara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY, School Library Journal, Starred Review

"For anyone who loves comics, would like to make comics or wants to know what makes them work, these two titles, beautifully designed in paperback editions with French flaps, supply a great deal of insight. Adventures in Cartooning, disarming in its simplicity, at first appears to be aimed at the beginner. And certainly it has much to offer novices in terms of both textual and visual vocabulary and even baseline drawing instruction. But the book also suggests the many uses for comics, from entertainment to education. A princess who believes she "just can't draw well enough to make a comic!!!" inadvertently summons a Magic Cartooning Elf, who resembles a flying leprechaun and helps her build confidence through simple instruction. The elf explains the importance of panels (their size and pacing), speech balloons (as well as their content's type size and boldface) and the climactic plot twist; step-by-step drawing instructions appear at the end. Even seasoned comics readers may more fully appreciate the work of their favorite creators after reading this book." —Shelf Awareness

James Sturm
James Sturm is a cartoonist and the cofounder of The Center for Cartoon Studies. His graphic novels include The Golem's Mighty Swing, Market Day, and Off Season. His picture books for children include Ape and Armadillo Take Over The World, Birdsong, and the Adventures in Cartooning series (with Andrew Arnold and Alexis Frederick-Frost).

Rich Tommaso started writing and drawing original comics and graphic novels in 1993. He is mostly known for his series of crime novels, the first of which was Clover Honey. Since then, he has penned a few more crime books, including Sam Hill: The Cavalier Mr. Thompson, Dark Corridor, and Dry County. At the moment he is drawing a new, but classically-styled, Dick Tracy comic series with Mike, Lee, and Laura Allred. Aside from his crime work he's made a dozen other comics and graphic novels in various genres, including Spy Seal, She Wolf, Vikings' End, Don't Look Back, 8 1/2 Ghosts, Perverso!, The Horror of Collier County, and a humorous travel book called Let's Hit the Road. He lives in Atlanta, GA with his girlfriend, Amy, and their two cats.
Classification
Non-fiction
ISBN-13
9781596433694
Lexile Measure
440L
Guided Reading Level
N/A
Publication date
March 20, 2009
Series
Adventures in Cartooning
Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children's Book Award
Nominee 2011 - 2011
Rhode Island Children's Book Awards
Nominee 2011 - 2011
Flicker Tale Children's Book Award
Nominee 2011 - 2011
Cybils
Finalist 2009 - 2009
Young Hoosier Book Award
Nominee 2012 - 2012
Gryphon Award
Winner 2010 - 2010

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