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)
Starred Review in 4/1 School Library Journal
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
Review in 4/2 Shelf Awareness
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.