Great Illustrated Books

Adventures in Cartooning: How to Turn Your Doodles Into Comics

By James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, and Alexis Frederick-Frost; Illustrated by the authors

First Second, 2009
Pages : 112
Suggested Ages: 7-11
ISBN: 1596433698

"Uh-oh! Someone needs cartooning help," says the little green-clad Magic Cartooning Elf, showing up at the side of a young princess who is discouraged that she can't draw well enough to make a comic. He starts a "real-life comic book adventure" with her that will serve to explain everything she needs to know about turning doodles into comics. The story-within-the-story stars a brave stick-figure knight and his goofy brown horse, Edward, looking to rescue the missing princess and slay the dragon that took her. The magic elf appears and says, "If you let me tell you about comics and cartooning, I'll help you find the dragon." "DEAL!" says the knight. In the course of the knight's adventure, the elf shows ways cartoon panels can advance a story, and how thought balloons and word balloons work. It's a very clever combination of comics and how-to, where you learn by observation how a cartoon works, kind of like an Ed Emberley drawing book, but with a story line. The black-lined cartoons in flat pastel colors are filled with comical balloon dialogue, sound effects, and nonstop action.

At the back of the book are tutorial pages with the elf's cartooning basics, tips, and a step-by step layout showing how to draw the characters in the story. For all those right-brained kids who hate to write but live to draw, this will be just the ticket to get them doing both and loving it. The other drawing books that children will find inspiring are by a kid herself-Alexa Kitchen-in her charming collections of her pictures and explanations of how she does them, including Drawing Comics Is Easy (Except When It's Hard), which she wrote and illustrated when she was seven, and the new Grown-ups Are Dumb (No Offense), which she did at age ten.

Reviewed by : JF.


If you love this book, then try:

Ahlberg, Allan. The Pencil. Candlewick, 2008.

Davis, Eleanor. Stinky. Little Lit Library, 2008.

Emberley, Ed. Ed Emberley's Drawing Book: Make a World. Little, Brown, 2006, c1972.

Emberley, Ed. Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Animals. Little, Brown, 2006, c1970.

Emberley, Ed. Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Faces. Little, Brown, 2006, c1975.

Holm, Jennifer L., and Matthew Holm. Babymouse: Our Hero. Random House, 2005. (And others in the Babymouse series)

Johnson, Crockett. Harold and the Purple Crayon. HarperCollins, 1955.

Kitchen, Alexa. Drawing Comics Is Easy (Except When It's Hard). DKP, 2006.

Kitchen, Alexa. Grown-ups Are Dumb (No Offense). Disney/Hyperion, 2009.

Leedy, Loreen. Look at My Book: How Kids Can Write & Illustrate Terrific Books. Holiday House, 2004.

Stevens, Janet. From Pictures to Words: A Book About Making a Book. Holiday House, 1995.

Strum, James. Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow. Hyperion/Jump at the Sun, 2007.

Zemach, Kaethe. Ms. McCaw Learns to Draw. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, 2008.

Critics have said

A stupendous new high for children's graphic novels, spearheaded by comics maestro Sturm.