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Adventures in Cartooning: Christmas Special!

Adventures in Cartooning: Christmas Special!

by James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, Alexis Frederick-Frost

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Christmas is coming! The Magic Cartooning Elf and his friend the Knight help Santa make a Christmas comic. But will kids put away their iPads, smart phones, and video games long enough to read a book?

The latest in the beloved Adventures In Cartooning series, Adventures in Cartooning: Christmas Special will inspire children to pick up a pencil and


Christmas is coming! The Magic Cartooning Elf and his friend the Knight help Santa make a Christmas comic. But will kids put away their iPads, smart phones, and video games long enough to read a book?

The latest in the beloved Adventures In Cartooning series, Adventures in Cartooning: Christmas Special will inspire children to pick up a pencil and draw up a snow storm! No charger or batteries are needed for this terrific holiday gift.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Kids are asking for high-tech gifts instead of old-fashioned ones, and Santa is not all that happy about it (“Instead of toys, we elves write code,” a helper tells him. “Then we connect to the server... and upload!”). Santa hits on the idea of a Christmas comic book, enlisting the help of a certain elf and knight (seen in the two previous Adventures in Cartooning books). Along the way, readers get an uproarious lesson in what makes a great—or at least salable—holiday story (“This book is as good as the Scrooge—and the Grinch!!!” boasts the knight. “I don’t know about that, but it’ll do in a pinch!!!” responds the elf) and how comics are made. As smart as it is funny—and it’s very funny. Ages 4–up. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

“Not quite a how-to book, as the cover might suggest, this is rather a stupendous new high for children's graphic novels, spearheaded by comics maestro Sturm (Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow, 2007). Ostensibly, this is the adventure of an eager knight, a sweet-toothed horse, and a magic elf hunting down a gum-chewing dragon, and those reading for the adventure itself will not be disappointed, filled as it is with humor, action, and a great girl-empowering twist. But along the way, lessons in the language of sequential art are woven seamlessly into the narrative, explaining the basics of how elements such as panels and word balloons work, while concluding bonus features offer specifics on terminology (like gutters and stems) and common symbols (like speed lines). Newcomers Andrew Arnold and Alexis Frederick-Frost, using varying page compositions to keep the sizable volume visually captivating, have constructed a tale that works just as well as a read-aloud for the very young as it does a lesson for everyone from fans of the form to the wholly uninitiated. As an examination of the medium, it's a supremely worthy spiritual legacy to Scott McCloud's seminal Understanding Comics (1993). As a straight-up graphic adventure, it may be the best of the year.” —Booklist, starred review

“An insightful and enjoyable way for kids to learn about cartooning, presented in a vibrant graphic format. In fairy-tale fashion, the Magic Cartooning Elf helps a young princess with writer's block produce her first comic. A story-within-a-story emerges, and the princess creates a deceptively silly tale of a knight, a dragon, a whale and a horse that loves candy. Along the way, the Elf drops informative hints to the reader about the structure of the story, introducing basic elements of cartooning and rudimentary techniques. Though seemingly simplistic, this multilayered composition is an excellent teaching tool to whet the appetites of aspiring young doodlers and even offers a pleasant twist in an otherwise apparently straightforward plot. Against the abundance of vanilla graphic nonfiction for kids on the market, this is unexpectedly lively. Simple cartooning basics offered after the story are quite appealing; even the most reluctant artist may be inspired to pick up a pencil and give it a shot. Entertaining and surprisingly edifying. (Graphic nonfiction. 9-12)” —Kirkus Reviews

“Gr 2-6-The young princess, thought to be ensconced in a tower, is missing. A "BRAVE and EAGER knight" and his less-than-fearless horse Edward learn that she has been abducted by a dragon and remains captive on Dragon Island. Assisted by the Magic Cartooning Elf, the knight goes in search of her. In this story within a story, the princess learns how to create her own cartoon. Basic principles of creating comics are taught by context, inference, and direct instruction. The humor, action, adventure, and charming characters hold readers' attention and draw them into a fantasy world of a candy-consuming dragon and knights who have been turned into vegetables. Readers learn about the uses of panels, the importance of words, and placement of thought balloons. Each tutorial panel contains clever and inventive touches that illustrate the capabilities of the format. The progression of the pink gum bubble on the first four pages is a classic. At the conclusion of this delightful tale, cartooning basics such as panels, gutters, tiers, word balloons, depiction of emotion, and movement are explained in an organized and straightforward fashion. This is a volume for kids who love comics, who enjoy an adventure filled with action and humor, are natural-born artists, or who aspire to become comic-book creators. A surefire hit.” —Barbara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY, School Library Journal

“For anyone who loves comics, would like to make comics or wants to know what makes them work, these two titles, beautifully designed in paperback editions with French flaps, supply a great deal of insight. Adventures in Cartooning, disarming in its simplicity, at first appears to be aimed at the beginner. And certainly it has much to offer novices in terms of both textual and visual vocabulary and even baseline drawing instruction. But the book also suggests the many uses for comics, from entertainment to education. A princess who believes she "just can't draw well enough to make a comic!!!" inadvertently summons a Magic Cartooning Elf, who resembles a flying leprechaun and helps her build confidence through simple instruction. The elf explains the importance of panels (their size and pacing), speech balloons (as well as their content's type size and boldface) and the climactic plot twist; step-by-step drawing instructions appear at the end. Even seasoned comics readers may more fully appreciate the work of their favorite creators after reading this book.” —Shelf Awareness

School Library Journal
Gr 2–5—While readers learned the mechanics of creating comics in Adventures in Cartooning (Roaring Brook, 2009), the main focus here is creating a story. Santa, lamenting kids' online distractions and the demand for electronic gadgets, decides that a comic would be the perfect solution to his gift-giving crisis. Enter the Cartooning Elf, who insists on speaking in rhyme, much to the annoyance of fellow returning character (Princess) Knight. Other familiar faces and scenes from the previous book appear and those elements, combined with MIT-educated, technophile elves who would rather write code and send gifts electronically than use the traditional reindeer and sleigh, produce rollicking, hilarious results. Best of all is the encouragement to imagine, draw, and create. Hand this title to those looking for a funny story and budding artists during the holidays and beyond.—Joanna K. Fabicon, Los Angeles Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
This lightweight, mildly humorous story about Santa, his favorite elf and a Christmas knight advises kids to draw their own comic strips, though no practical help is offered in drawing instruction. Santa and his Magical Cartooning Elf decide to create a Christmas comic book for distribution to children on Christmas Eve. They are assisted by a knight who has assorted adventures with a yeti, some giant children and a dragon who is pressed into service to deliver the completed comic books. On Christmas morning, children around the world are inspired to start making their own comics. Young readers are encouraged to send their original comics showing favorite things, places or foods to the Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont, presumably for the next installment in the series. The rhyming text is a bit singsong, with some corny puns and some funny asides, but it also uses a hip, self-deprecating tone and current computer terms that let kids know the authors are up on the latest. The cartoon illustrations use varying panel layouts with hand-lettered speech balloons and backgrounds in cool green to set off the holiday reds. Wrapped up with some drawing paper and pens, this clever Christmas cartoon construction might spark some creative projects. (Graphic picture book. 5-10)

Product Details

First Second
Publication date:
Adventures in Cartooning Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.80(w) x 7.30(h) x 0.30(d)
Age Range:
6 - 10 Years

Meet the Author

James Sturm is the author of award-winning graphic novels for children and adults, including James Sturm's America, Market Day, The Golem's Mighty Swing and Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow. He is the founder of the Center for Cartoon Studies. He lives in White River Junction, Vermont.

A graduate of the Center for Cartoon Studies, Alexis Frederick-Frost lives outside of Boston and works at a library. His first comic, La Primavera, was the recipient of a Xeric Grant.
Andrew Arnold is a graduate of the Center of Cartoon Studies: Adventures in Cartooning is the result of a class assignment given to him and Alexis Frederick-Frost. He lives in New York and works in publishing.

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