Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Comics for Kids: A Big Awesome List Thereof

Regular readers of this blog will know I've talked a lot here about the importance of comics for kids, the role they can play in developing literacy skills and inspiring a love of reading and, y'know, all that sort of thing. Unfortunately, I've also talked a lot about how difficult it can be for parents, educators, and indeed kids themselves to know where to start with comics; to find exciting and age-appropriate titles. I've attempted to recommend a few titles from time to time, with my apparently now-annual series of posts Comics For 6-Year-Olds and Comics For 7-Year-Olds (coming this year! Comic-For-8-Year Olds! I guess?), but I'm well aware how brief and incomplete they are. I can't begin to tell you the number of times over the last few years that I've been off doing workshops, talking to teachers and librarians who're interested in using comics but need some pointers where to start, and wished I had just a big LIST to give them. A Big List Of Awesome Comics For Kids.

Well, the good news is, someone made that list! That someone(s) being Melanie McGilloway and Zoe Toft of the Federation of Children's Book Groups, who have put together a new booklist entitled 'Inside The Box: A Selection of Comics And Graphic Novels For All Ages', which... well, which is basically the thing I've been wishing existed for the last five or so years. To quote Melanie and Zoe's introduction:

"The Federation's primary aim is to encourage reading for pleasure and we are sure the books and magazines on this list will do just that. Although comics and graphic novels are sometimes resisted by (adult) gatekeepers, we are great believers in this format and hope that this list shows comics are not just for boys or reluctant readers but for anyone who enjoys great storytelling."

And it really is an impressive list - wide-ranging and thoughtfully curated, with an eminently useful focus on titles that are in print and widely available in the UK. Again, making it easy for teachers, librarians, parents and kids, which I think is so important.

(In the interests of FULL DISCLOSURE I should mention that I was consulted during the making of the list, but I really barely helped at all - I'm quite sure Melanie and Zoe were already familiar with all the titles I suggested, and a whole lot more besides. There's stuff in here that I'd never heard of previously, and which I'm already looking forward to checking out.)

Any teachers, librarians, or just anyone with an interest who'd like to get hold of the booklist, please contact the Federation to request copies - just e-mail info@fcbg.org.uk with your name and address. More info on the FCBG's blog, here. I personally have a thick wedge of copies that I shall be liberally strewing in my wake pretty much wherever I go from now on. Thanks again, Zoe and Melanie!

Friday, 10 April 2015

Pirate Dinosaur Roadshow!

I'm going to be at lots of book festivals and comics events and such over the next few months, so if you would like to come and say hello and get me to draw pictures of dinosaurs for you: you have MANY OPPORTUNITIES TO DO SO! I've just updated the 'Upcoming Events' section of my website with details of some, and there's a load more to be announced soon, I just wanted to draw your attention to a couple in particular here:

Pirates of Pangaea Day at Gosh Comics, London - 16 May! 

My co-pirate Daniel Hartwell and myself will be at Gosh Comics on Saturday 16 May from 1-3 PM, drawing with kids and running competitions and painting giant dinosaurs in the window and all sorts of fun things like that. If you are about and in London and have kids, or just really like dinosaurs, please come along, and indeed spread the word!

Phoenix Comic Festival, Oxford, 2-3 May!

It's the third year of the phenomenally good fun Phoenix Festival at the Story Museum - tickets are going super fast so if you have any young Phoenix fans in the family, BOOK NOW! It's a fantastic day - a whole weekend in fact, this year, they're extending it - and I really can't overstate how fun and positive and exciting an event it is for young comics readers (and creators). I'm doing workshops on the Saturday, and a whole bunch of amazing cartoonists are there over the whole weekend.

If you can't make it along to those, or indeed any of the other events I'll be at this year, there is still a way to get me to draw on your books! I'm offering through my website a special Custom Dinosaur edition of Pirates of Pangaea, in which I will happily sketch for you the following proposition:

ANY CHARACTER (living, dead or fictional), riding ANY DINOSAUR.

I hope you will take me up on this as, frankly, they are super fun to do and I love drawing them. Here are a few examples:

Alex and Freddy on a Chronosaurus (?)

Gandalf on a Stegosaurus

Batman on a Triceratops 

A Pirate on A Dinosaur (the 'default setting') 

Upsy Daisy on a Hadrosaur

Astronaut on a Velociraptor

You get the idea. You can order your very own Custom Dinosaur at from my web shop at: http://neillcameron.bigcartel.com/ 

Challenges welcome!