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Attendees of the recent Texas Library Association (TLA) annual conference—which took place April 12–15 in Austin—were greeted with a nice graphic-novel welcome this year: Besides panels about graphic novels and a forum featuring some well-known creators and the $20,000 Great Graphic Novel Library Giveaway, the book selected for the One Book, One Conference reading group was Audrey Niffenegger’s The Night Bookmobile. The graphic novel, which tells the story of a woman who one night discovers a supernatural library that houses every single thing she’s ever read and who subsequently spends the rest of her life looking for it again, is a beautifully illustrated and haunting story. It’s also a book that contains its fair share of controversy and discussion points, as evidenced by the healthy, invigorating discussion that took place when TLA attendees got together to talk about the book. Here, Texas Tech University Associate Humanities Librarian Rob Weiner, who moderated the One Book, One Conference panel at the show, gives us the scoop on the book and the discussion around it.
April 26, 2011

Photo Gallery: Share the Excitement of TLA

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Even if you weren't at last week's annual TLA conference, you can still get a look at the fun times that that went on at The $20,000 Great Graphic Novel Library Giveaway in our photo gallery here. Click here to see photos from TLA.
The annual MoCCA festival, a fund-raiser for the Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art in New York, is not a comic convention; it's more like a craft show. Marvel and DC aren't there, and nobody is pushing a movie or a video game. It's simply table after table of small publishers and individual creators, all eager to show you their latest creations. At MoCCA, small is beautiful.
Maureen Bakis is a 12th-grade English teacher at Masconomet Regional High School in Topsfield, Massachusetts. She’s also been using comics in her classroom for a while now, to great success. We talked to her to glean her expert advice on how to use comics to reach students.
April is Autism Awareness Month, and so it’s a perfect time to draw attention to one mother’s recent compilation of an excellent list of graphic novels for her autistic son. This extensive list was published on AutMont, an autism resources site centered in Montgomery County, Maryland. This is a pretty comprehensive assortment of titles, and it ranges from such classics like Bone and Tintin to newer bestsellers like Babymouse, Copper, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and Asterix.
And I am a George R.R. Martin fan. As HBO begins what looks like a great adaptation of Game of Thrones (and I realize I need to start a subscription to HBO...I don't think I can miss this), the New York Times runs a great pro-comic book quote from the amazing writer. It's from 1981 (I wish I had known about it back then...it would have been very helpful to me when dealing with my parents and teachers). I think my favorite part is this gem: "My teachers soon began to marvel that I read with such 'expression,' while the rest of my class read . . .
At the Texas Library Association’s (TLA) Annual Conference held in Austin, Texas, April 12–15, Eduardo Zepeda from Weslaco Public Library was the lucky recipient of the $20,000  prize in the Great Graphic Novel Library Giveaway, sponsored by Brodart CompanyDiamond Book Distributors, and GraphicNovelReporter.com.
As I drove to Providence, Rhode Island, last weekend with librarian Robin Brenner from the Brookline Public Library to attend the first New England Comic Arts in the Classroom Conference at Rhode Island College on Saturday, March 26, we discussed the future of comics in the classroom and the value this medium will provide students as part of a school’s curriculum. Robin and I presented a panel together about teacher-librarian partnerships as this relates to using graphic novels in education and enjoyed attending several other presentations from an outstanding cast of comics-in-education characters, including graphic novelist Raina Telgemeier, Archie Comics CEO Nancy Silberkleit, and The Comic Book Project founder Dr. Michael Bitz. It was truly exhilarating to collaborate with authors and educators as every presenter brought something unique to the conference. Researchers and educator-pioneers who are using comics in the classroom with success are typically lone wolves in their respective communities, so I found it particularly engaging to be among like-minded folks who share a passion for students, teaching, learning, and spreading the comics love! I only wish that I had been able to attend all the wonderful panels that included lesson ideas and resources applicable to reading, writing, science-learning, visual literacy, and art.
April 6, 2011

A Look at WonderCon

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WonderCon, held at San Francisco’s Moscone Center April 1-3, 2011, celebrated its 25th birthday with 40,000 of its closest friends. Before blowing out the candles, attendees snaked through lines of animated comic, sci-fi, and pop culture fans as flash bulbs blinded even the most intrepid. Costumed superheroes posed with mere mortals creating postcards of Captain America, Wolverine, and the Bay Area Ghostbusters, or pinup calendars of Poison Ivy, Elektra, and Batgirl. But before heading out to the exhibition floor, a birthday cake needed cutting.
“Wak!” “Crunch!” and “Glom!” taught Vicky Smith how to read. “For end-of-the-day snuggling with my mother,” she relates, “Uncle Scrooge comics were our stories of choice. When I was about four, she started me out reading the sound effects to give me practice in phonetics as well as an opportunity to participate. One magical night, I apparently turned to her and said, ‘Now, I will read Huey, Louie, and Dewey, and you read Uncle Scrooge and Donald.’ And from that moment on, I was a reader, and she proselytized the Gospel of Uncle Scrooge to all of her friends!” As for Vicky, it was a fine literary beginning for the future Children’s Editor of Kirkus Reviews.