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My First Graphic Novel: The Kickball Kids


My First Graphic Novel: The Kickball Kids

written by Cari Meister, illustrated by Julie Olson

These attractive early readers, featuring simple sports stories and bright, uncluttered illustrations, are an excellent introduction to both comics and sports for young readers. Each book has a very simple story involving a child who likes a sport: A girl wants to play flag football but the boys won’t let her, until they need an extra player at the last minute. A kickball team faces off with older opponents for the big game. The story is broken into simple sentences, and many of the words are repeated: “They practiced kicking. They practiced catching. They practiced running.” The books give basic information about each sport, in words and in pictures, so even children who are new to sports can enjoy them.

The stories reinforce the basic values of sports—do your best, and if you don’t succeed, try again. The characters are average kids who must try hard and who don't always win the game, which is probably a good example or a child who is just starting out in sports.

Most of the story is told in text boxes next to the pictures, so the books have a picture-book feel to them. They still read like graphic novels, however, because the stories are broken into panels, with typically one to three panels per page, and some of the panels have word balloons and sound effects, just like other comics.

The text describes the action, but the pictures add a little more—when a boy goes out for T-Ball, the text boxes tell the reader that he gets a hat, a jersey, and a bat, but the boy also gets a ball and a glove, which are shown in the pictures and described in word balloons. The words and pictures complement each other well.

Each 32-page book has only about 20 pages of story, but there are plenty of extras. The books all start out with a two-page spread explaining how to read graphic novels, and there are several educational features in the back—a glossary, writer and illustrator bios, discussion questions, and writing prompts. And just like big-kid comics, they have ads for the other volumes in the back. The last page gives the URL of FactHound, a kid-friendly information site, and instructs the reader to type in the ISBN of the book to get more information about the subject. I tried this for a few books and the results were disappointing. The site linked to information sites intended for adults (Wikipedia, Family Fun), plus books on ballet, baseball, horse riding, and disc golf (the same four books each time). The fact that this idea was not well-executed, however, shouldn’t detract from the books themselves, which are solid, enjoyable sports stories that beginning readers will be able to master on their own.

Reviewed by Brigid Alverson on July 9, 2012

My First Graphic Novel: The Kickball Kids
written by Cari Meister, illustrated by Julie Olson

  • Publication Date: November 30, -0001
  • Genres: Graphic Novel
  • Paperback: 25 pages
  • Publisher: Capstone Publishers (MN)
  • ISBN-10: 1434214109
  • ISBN-13: 9781434214102