Graphic Novel Rec #3: Flash Facts

Creators: Mayim Bialik, editor

Publisher: DC Comics

Flash Facts: Ten Terrific Tales About Science and Technology brings together my love for well-written nonfiction and graphic novels. I’ve always felt that I learned a lot of science from comics books. I also learned a lot of “comic book science” too! (Super-Soldier Serum, anyone?) The science in Flash Facts, however, is totally legit!

Neuroscientist, Mayim Bialik, also of Blossom and The Big Bang Theory fame, curated a collection of short graphic stories featuring DC Superheroes that teach about science topics ranging from forensic science to virtual reality. The variety of scientific topics addressed makes this book feel like I’m taste-testing a bunch of topics to help me decide which I might want to learn more about.

After reading, I found myself wanting to know more about thermal expansion and definitely wanting to try out virtual reality goggles! And isn’t that the point of nonfiction? To spark interest and leaving us wanting to know more?

This text even helps kids with next steps. The back matter includes a list of resources so they can hop online to learn more and 7 experiments kids can conduct at home related to the topics in the stories.

Topics covered in this anthology:

  • Forensic Science
  • 3D Printing
  • DNA
  • Virtual Reality
  • Energy
  • Atomic & Sub-atomic particles
  • Outer Space
  • Zones of the Ocean
  • Climate Change
  • Human Extremes

Teaching Considerations:

  • Genre: Nonfiction, Informational Fiction with a Narrator, Active Nonfiction
  • Units of Study: Nonfiction, Narrative Nonfiction,
  • Grades: Fourth Grade, Fifth Grade, Sixth Grade

Graphic Novel Rec #2: Pea, Bee & Jay: Stuck Together

Creator: Brian “Smitty” Smith

Publisher: Harper Alley

Pea, Bee & Jay had me smiling by the second page and laughing by the third page. Brian Smith, who both writes and draws this charming graphic novel for younger readers, takes the reader on an adventure that is humorous, but also shows the importance of working together to solve a problem. 

Pea is dared to leave the farm and touch the big red tree. On his journey he meets Bee, an actual bee, and Jay, a blue jay. They become a band of unlikely friends who work together to tackle the challenges they face on their journey. 

Smith’s panel layouts are easy to follow and will be supportive of younger readers. His cartooning brings personality to everything from acorns to raspberries. (The raspberries are a personal favorite!)
By the end of the book, Smith has succeeded in developing the world of Pea, Bee and Jay. I look forward to revisiting this world as the series continues in Wannabees and Lift Off.

Teaching Connections:

  • Genre: This is what I call a “Friendship Story.” It’s a story about making friends or going on an adventure with friends that largely follows realistic fiction tropes, but the fact that the main characters are a bee, a blue jay, and a pea make it difficult to call it realistic fiction. 
  • Units of Study: Fiction, Adventure, Series, Friendship
  • Grades: Second Grade, Third Grade

Graphic Novel Rec #1: You Brought Me the Ocean

Creators: Alex Sanchez & Julie Maroh

Publisher: DC Graphic Novels for Young Adults

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve dreamed of another world. A world where I can discover who I really am, where I’m part of something greater than myself.” 

This is how Alex Sanchez begins You Brought Me the Ocean. As someone who frequently chooses books based on the first line, first page, first sequence of panels…I was hooked. 

The art delivers just as much as the writing. Maroh’s expressive cartooning helps strengthen the reader’s connection with the characters. You feel what they feel. You’re in it with them. The subdued color palette allows the cartooning to shine. This warm and muted color palette makes the blues pop and in a story called You Brought Me the Ocean this is no accident. 

You Brought Me the Ocean is a coming out story, but not just a coming out story. It’s a story about identity and reaching for your dreams. Even when your dreams take you far away from everyone you love. It’s a story about the struggles you go through with friends and family as you grow into who you are, who you want to be. 

There is a connection to the DC Comics/Movie Universe and as someone who is well-versed in the DCU, this helped to build out the world of You Brought Me the Ocean.  Sanchez brings this DCU connection into this story so well, that it will not confuse anyone unfamiliar with DC comics continuity. 

Teaching Considerations: 

  • Genre: A realistic fiction story with fantasy elements, “fantasy in the real world”
  • Units of Study: Social Issues, Fantasy, Fiction, Identity
  • Grades: Middle School, High School