September 15, 2010

PEACE PARTY in Biff! Bang! Pow!

I recently reviewed a copy of this book:

Biff! Bang! Pow! 6 PackSandra Quan-D'Eramo
Series edited by Kathy Gould-Lundy, Joan Green and Jennifer Glass

Series: BOLDPRINT Talk Series

Crime-fighting quips, tongue-twisting sound effects, high-flying superheroes--everything is possible when you're talking about the world of comics. Whether you're a super fan or a first-time reader, you'll have everything you need to get the conversation started with these idioms, trading cards, quotations, instructions, and more.

BOLDPRINT Talk is an oral language program for all students who are striving to become more successful readers, writers, and speakers, including English Language Learners (ELL). Carefully selected texts and images propel students into oral language activities. Activities are designed to help students make meaning and speak about their understandings.

Readership: Grade 5.

School Price: $89.70

Comment:  This large-print book uses colorful graphics to introduce the world of comic books. It's a hodgepodge of information, with sections on understanding comics, superheroes, manga, creating comics, Stan Lee, and fandom. The oddest section is probably the four pages devoted to sound effects, which is about three pages too many.

The best part of this book is how multicultural it is--as the cover suggests. Something like a third of the people and characters featured are minorities. This kind of diversity should be routine these days, but it's still rare.

I have a copy because the publisher asked to use PEACE PARTY #1 as one of the images. The section on "Superhero Dream Teams" lists the Fantastic Four, Peace Party, the X-Men, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the 99 (a Muslim comic), and Team Kakashi (a Japanese comic) in that order. Yep, I'd say Peace Party belongs between the Fantastic Four and the X-Men as an original and intriguing concept.

I don't think I'd recommend Biff! Bang! Pow! as a primer on comics. Especially not at $15 a copy. I suspect there are better ones, even for kids around age 10. But for getting kids to talk about comics, to improve their language skills, this book may be good.

For more on the subject, see Comic Books Featuring Indians.

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