I was never into comic books (though I do usually enjoy movie and television adaptations), and as graphic novels began to grow in popularity, I seemed to avoid their pull as well. I’m not sure if I always just assumed they were for boys or what, but I never found them appealing. Then Brodart began doing various promotions for graphic novels (see http://www.books.brodart.com/graphicnovels or http://www.youtube.com/user/BrodartFlix for just a taste of some of the stuff we’re doing!), and I felt like there must be something I was missing. When I saw Squish: Super Amoeba, I thought “I’ll give this a try.” I’m glad I did because it certainly gave me a new viewpoint on what graphic novels can and should be.
Squish is an amoeba who likes comic books, especially The Adventures of Super Amoeba. This graphic novel tells the story of Squish trying to live up to the expectations of being a Super Amoeba as he and his friends Peggy and Pod are faced with Lynwood, a bully amoeba who eats paramecia, which Peggy just happens to be.
There are two very cool aspects to this graphic novel. The first is the adventure itself. The story is actually quite entertaining, and there are a couple of different subplots thrown in to keep kids interested, and definitely lead to future books. The second is the science. I’m not exactly a science whiz, but I thought I knew more than the average person. Apparently there was a lot more to learn, and I learned a lot of it in this book designed for kids age seven to ten.
I found the “commentary” in the green arrows to not only offer the most educational bits and pieces, but also have some of the funniest lines in the story. I didn’t think I would actually chuckle out loud, but I definitely did a couple of times.
After reading Squish, I can see there’s a lot more to graphic novels than the “capes and tights” of the superheroes I was imagining. A graphic novel like this could be used in a multitude of ways: an entertaining read to get a new or hesitant reader to do independent reading; a fun way to teach an elementary science class about amoebas; an introduction to more advanced graphic novels and comics, as the panels were very easy to follow along for someone who has no clue about the flow rules.
Am I ready to jump on board to all graphic novels and become a regular reader? Probably not. However, I am ready to say there is more to graphic novels than meets the eye, and there is certainly a higher level of value than people are placing on them. Graphic novels like Squish should definitely be used in schools and libraries.