by Bryan Patrick Avery
Several of my favorite magic effects to perform are decades old. One, in fact, was first printed over 100 years ago. It’s been interesting to watch many of the recent changes in magic brought on by YouTube performances and the growing emphasis of street magic as influenced by magicians like Chris Capehart, David Blaine, and Jibrizy. Like magic, children’s books have undergone an interesting change in recent years as well.
Many recent award winners and bestsellers have strayed from the tradition approach to storytelling and have embraced new ways to entertain, excite, and enlighten. This month, we’ll look at three such books. First up, a graphic novel Neil Gaiman calls “a masterpiece”.
Vera Brosgol’s graphic novel, Anya’s Ghost, tells the story of Anya, who falls down a well and meets a ghost named Emily. Anya is an outsider at school and just as uncomfortable at home. Emily’s presence starts out as something useful, but soon becomes creepy. When Anya agrees to help solve Emily’s century old murder, and Emily agrees to help Anya with a boy at school, things really go off the rails.
Anya’s Ghost manages to be creepy and heartwarming, helped in no small measure by Brosgol’s artwork. If you’re interested in writing a graphic novel, this is one you must read.
Just as graphic novels have grown in popularity among readers and publishers, so have novels in verse. Perhaps the most celebrate work in this area is Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover which won the Newberry Medal.
The Crossover tells the story of Josh Bell, basketball phenom, son, and twin brother. As the story unfolds through a series of masterful verses, we get to see Josh at his best and his worst. What is, perhaps, most amazing about The Crossover is the emotional pull it has and I find it impossible to imagine the story told in any other way. Whether you want to write in verse or not, every writer can learn from Alexander’s work.
If you’re looking to be inspired by a truly creative work, check out Corinna Luyken’s picture book The Book of Mistakes. The story is simple. The author shares with us, the readers, a series of mistakes then goes on to show how they inspired something greater. By the end of the book, we’ve come full circle but can now see how big mistakes can lead to great achievements. The message is inspiring and the artwork is beautiful. It is truly an immersive experience and a very different type of picture book.
Well, that’s all for this month. I passed the midway point in my own graphic novel manuscript yesterday. Now it’s on to the finish. Have a magical month!
We are so excited to be mixing things up at the Children's Book Academy. Mondays with Mandy or Mira is now the Blogfish!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays will feature award-winning former agent and former kidlit professor Mira Reisberg PhD who is also the Director of the Children's Book Academy.
2nd Mondays will feature reading specialist and MFA in creative writing graduate Mandy Yates has been published multiple times in Highlights Magazine.
3rd Mondays will feature Bryan Patrick Avery, published writer, man of mystery, and professional magician among other things.
4th Mondays will feature the great Christine Taylor-Butler who has published over 70 award-winning fiction and non-fiction and nonfiction books including the acclaimed new middle grade series - The Lost Tribes.
And 5th Mondays will feature will feature the fabulous Carl Angel, award-winning multi-published Illustrator and graphic designer.
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