Sunday, June 27, 2010

GON by Masashi Tanaka, great series for reluctant and ambitious readers


Ah, summer when the reading is easy. My family enjoys a series of books titled: Gon by Masashi Tanaka that is worth sharing. These books are super for reluctant readers and new readers because they are wordless books. However, even my super reader becomes completely absorbed in the Gon stories and enjoys retelling them in detail.

Gon is a dinosaur, a feisty dinosaur, which escaped extinction and now roams the world saving small and defenseless animals from bigger and meaner creatures. Despite some suspenseful violence, many, many scenes are comical and I often hear my kids laughing out loud as they read.

I've wondered as I see how much my children love these books of pen and ink art, are they reading? And, I've come to the conclusion that they are. Gon is divided up into episodes that are read from the back of the book toward the front as many graphic novels and manga books are designed. In order to understand the story of each episode and how each episode of the book is part of the larger story, readers must understand who the characters are, what the action is and where the scene is taking place. The title page for each episode includes sometimes one or two words or a couple of paragraphs. This is great for kids that don't enjoy reading….because by the time they get to these few words they are hooked enough by the story to read to the end. I also love how the ending to each Gon novel is "to be continued…" so that the reader is already looking forward to the next book in the series.

Gon is published by CMX publishers, a trademark of DC Comics. CMX kindly includes a "Know What's Inside" label inside the back (in this case front) cover of the Gon books for adults so that they can decided if the reading material is appropriate for their reader. Gon is rated T for "teen" as opposed to "E" for everyone, T+ "Teen Plus" for ages 16 and older or "M" for mature. Since I am very new to the world of graphic novels and manga, I appreciate this label description. The "T" for the books my children, who are not yet teens, covers the violent nature of some drawings. None of the drawings that I've read are more suspenseful or violent than the Spiderman, Hulk, Star Wars or other action/adventure comics we've checked out of the Juvenile section of our local library. Gon is shelved in the Juvenile comic book (Dewey numbers 741) section of our library alongside our favorite Marvel and DC comics for kids.

Gon books are fun….definitely different than what I grew up with but appealing to today's kids.

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