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Hey Everyone!

We are proud to announce that Graphic Universe’s dynamic writing and translating duo of Drs. Anne and Owen Smith will be signing copies of standout GU titles this December 8, 11:00am – 1:00pm, at the Barnes & Noble in the Baker Pattillo Student Center at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas.

We hope you can all make it!

The Graphic Universe Crew

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Last Wednesday morning, I hopped on the subway from Brooklyn and headed to the Graphic Universe office at the Empire State Building in Manhattan. But on that day, the GU office was just a temporary stop to grab a box of books and then to continue my way uptown to an elementary school. By uptown I mean way uptown, to the northernmost tip of the island, in a neighborhood called Inwood at 10th Avenue and Dyckman Street. This is where P.S. 5 sits and where the talented Graphic Universe illustrator Alitha Martinez’s son attends school. But this was no ordinary day–it was career day and great anticipation was in the air. Today Alitha was on hand to share her impressive career as a comic book artist—both with DC Comics and, yes, with Graphic Universe and its critically acclaimed series Twisted Journeys and My Boyfriend is a Monster.

The day proved to be a huge success–not only for Alitha, who marvelously inspired the students with her artistic gifts and career accomplishments–but also a winner for Graphic Universe. I was told that kids at this school just love Graphic Universe books. Indeed, the process of teaching rather mundane subjects comes alive through comic books. Utilizing graphic illustrations to convey ordinary topics in ways that kids can truly appreciate and understand is a remarkable feat. And Graphic Universe books shine bright in that department.

I now have proof of this.

After her presentation the jubilant Alitha wrote to me with this: “It really strikes a chord with the kids when they can see books as more than something that’s forced on them. In the play yard on a beautiful day children were huddled around reading. The manga math book and the tricky journeys, WOW!! Teachers were in love. Kids wanted more to take for their siblings….I only had 30. Kids wanted a book that taught math?? You really had them properly tricked into learning with that one.”

Wouldn’t it be great if Alitha continued the career day tradition next year at P.S. 5! (In fact, she was present the past couple years with equally memorable experiences.) Come to think about it, imagine spreading this idea to having career day participation with dozens of GU authors and illustrations in schools across the country. There could be quite a lot of eager people and it would certainly help spread the word to kids, parents, and teachers about the wonderful line of GU books.

Alitha further espoused the benefits of GU and its stellar line of educational and entertaining titles by declaring that “they remembered every book by name that was brought over the years.”

How can you beat that? Great news for children’s book publishing!

The School Library Journal recently reviewed Detective Frankenstein by Alaya Johnson and Yuko Ota, book 17 in the Twisted Journeys series.  In addition to their review, they offered some history on the interactive genre known as gamebooks.  this piqued my interest, so I went searching for more information.

Did you know there are three types of gamebooks: the branching-plot novel, the role-playing game solitaire adventure, and the adventure gamebook?  The branching plot novel is usually written in the second person and requires the reader to make choices.  Otherwise, it is similar to a typical novel.  Twisted Journeys is an example of this kind of gamebook.  To learn more, visit gamebooks.org.

Choose Your own Adventure books were first published out of Vermont in 1976, but they weren’t the first gamebook. In the late fifties interactive books were used as learning tools.   These books could be used in the absence of a teacher by directed the student to certain pages depending on how they answered multiple choice questions (correct answers would direct the student to the next question, incorrect answers would direct them to review pages).

Here is a small portion of what the School Library Journal had to say about Detective Frankenstein:

“Johnson has provided over a dozen possible outcomes for the story, encouraging kids to re-read the book until they achieve their desired ending. For reluctant readers, the stories’ length and hybrid format may help overcome resistance to the idea of sitting down with a book for fun. Best of all, the stories are just spooky enough to engage the imagination, but not so gory or grim as to be genuinely upsetting. Recommended for readers in grades 2-5.”

Read the full review on Good Comics for Kids.

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