The School Library Journal
Which comics will attract a new generation of young readers? I´ve identified 25 outstanding new graphic novels that are guaranteed to do just that. If your library has hesitated to take the plunge, this list is an excellent jumping-off point for developing a well-rounded collection. On the other hand, even if you already have a truckload of comics for kids, these titles will be a welcome addition.
Dinosaurs Across America. Yeh, Phil. NBM. 2007. $12.95. ISBN 978-1-56163-509-2.
Gr 3-5. In this full-color, nonfiction comic, a group of time-traveling dinosaurs visit our nation´s 50 states. As they stop in each state, they learn about its capital and a thing or two about the region´s history.
Phil Yeh's Dinosaurs Across America reviewed by Laura Friesen, Holt Elementary, Eugene School District.
Patrick Rabbit is tricked into buying bogus train tickets to Hawaii because of his ignorance in geography (and his unwillingness to learn). In this hardcover comic graphic story, he meets up with time traveling dinosaurs who take him up on his bet that he knows more about the United States than they do. Using comic book magic, they travel as a group from state to state, Patrick trying to guess what the capital is and the dinosaurs sharing facts about each state including the capital, famous landmarks, products, culture, etc.
Each panel is brightly colored with a white state outlined by the dinosaurs and the information they are relaying to Patrick. The illustrations in a panel format capture the essence of each state and the panels are filled with surprises as well as facts.
A list of recommended book titles is located at the end of the journey. Though Patrick is a reluctant student and not always nice, the book should appeal to many students because of the graphic format. Readers can't help but learn something new. The cover is so bright and cheery showing the dinosaurs' flying car that the book is sure to be used.
The three star rating is for a good book that will supplement the U.S. geography section in any library or classroom.
Comment on Publishers Weekly's The Beat column 8/22/07:
His book is fun! I participated with Phil in a panel discussion on graphic novels in libraries back in 1999, and I saw the Cartoonists Across America mural in New Orleans very soon after they had completed it. With Dinosaurs Across America now in color, I think he’ll be directly invading libraries, which is a good thing.
This book will never replace those geography books on all the states, but it makes US geography fun. Who says learning stuff HAS to be boring?
Dinosaurs Across America is the new book by Phil Yeh, who has spent the last two decades promoting literacy and art across the world in various ways, including lots of comics. In fact, this book was originally a black-and-white comic that was sold at various Yeh events. It’s a quick look at all fifty states in the US, with a concentration on quick facts and learning all of the capitals. One of Yeh’s recurring characters, Patrick Rabbit, has been suckered, and a group of dinosaurs (also recurring Yeh characters) set him straight on the real facts.
There’s no real story here, but it’s a great book for kids interested in state capitals or geography in general. (Or even for kids who aren’t interested in that, but need to learn some of it.)
Comics Waiting Room
DINOSAURS is one of those unusual books whose back story is damned near more interesting than its actual contents. Phil Yeh is the founder of Cartoonists Across America & The World, an organization dedicated to the promotion of literacy and the fine arts through the use of cartoons. He’s traveled the globe with many artistic colleagues, and they’ve left behind a series of murals designed to promote literacy.
He’s also been a guest at a number of book fairs and conferences, and while there he sold about 180,000 copies of a black and white version of this book. The word you’re looking for? Amazing.
Now that book has been colored by Lieve Jerger and produced in hardcover by the folks at NBM, and they’ve done a terrific job with what turns out to be a snazzy little learning tool. The basic idea is this: the dinosaurs meet the geographically challenged Patrick Rabbit and take him on a tour the U.S., teaching him about each state. He always learns the capital and an interesting fact or two about the state’s background.
At some point in their early schooling, each kid has to go through the process of learning about the states and their capitals, and this book would certainly be a good tool for that effort. Really, that’s the only way you can truly measure this book- the cartooning is impeccable, the facts presented are undeniable- so putting it into the hands of a kid who wants to learn is the way to go. And I’m going to do just that.
The Graphic Classroom
Geography, like many subjects, can be boring, fraught with the nasty notion that simply memorizing states and capitals constitutes learning. Phil Yeh, while presenting basic information about each state, also gives the reader a look into other aspects of the state, such as human interaction with the place, as well as history about the music, art, or technology that has shaped each state. There is even a little story to go along with the information to help the reader move along. It is a good thing.
We can forget, sometimes, that nonfiction has a special allure for some children. My wife is one of those who does not enjoy reading fiction. When I got DINOSAURS ACROSS AMERICA in the classroom, she commented that, as a child, this book would have been one of her favorites in the comic category. She was one of those children who enjoyed geography, including the memorization of states and capitals. Children like her need comics like this.
ART REVIEW:The pages are split in half with two states appearing on each page.
The illustrations are colorful and include not only an outline of the the state.
My Rating: All Ages
All Ages Reads: No Rating
Comics in the Classroom: No Rating
IN THE CLASSROOM:
DINOSAURS ACROSS AMERICA is the perfect place for
children to begin to study geography, which is more than just memorizing the states and their capitals. The study of geography also includes the place, human interaction, movement and regions. Phil Yeh does a good job presenting aspects of these major geographic themes throughout his book. For instance we learn that W.C. Handy, the father of The Blues, lived in Memphis, Tenn. We also discover that Nebraska was referred to as a desert until humans started irrigating. Students could discover how that irrigation transformed Nebraska into the state it is.
Students need excellent nonfiction resources when studying all kinds of subjects, and DINOSAURS ACROSS AMERICA meets that need perfectly. Geared for elementary students, it is the go-to book when students begin to look at a place within the United States. It belongs on the classroom and school library shelf.