Adventures in Cartooning Activity Book!

Adventures in Cartooning Activity Book, by James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, and Alexis Frederick-Frost (First Second, 2010).

Adventures in Cartooning, published last year, introduced young illustrators to an un-named knight and his trusty steed, Edward. The first book didn't have much story, qua story--it was clearly a book designed to build cartooning confidence, which it did with much delightful humor. Although this sequel sounds like it should have less story, in as much as it is an "activity book," the activity sections are embedded into a coherent cartoon narrative, that tells of an adventure the young knight (and Edward) find in their own castle one rainy day (there are robots! a cookie monster! a giant!). Even once all the pages of activities are filled, this is a book that will be read again and again. It is the just the sort of fun, easy reader to give to your 1st or 2nd grader.

The tips for cartooning are both useful and clearly presented, and the knowledge gained is not only applicable to creating comics, but also to reading them (the types of speech balloons, for instance, are all explained, and neither my house guests, my children, or I knew that a dashed line balloon meant a whisper).

Of all the books that I brought back from ALA, this is the one that brought most happiness home with it. For the past few days, my seven year old has spent hours (literally) absorbed by this slim yet tightly packed paperback (63 pages of the book proper, then several pages of blank comic boxes to draw in). By extension, I love it too, but even if I hadn't had a seven year old to hand it over to, I would be writing a glowing review of it for its own sake...(well, actually, in large measure for Edward's sake, because he is my favorite graphic novel horse ever).

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