Today I am absolutely delighted to support the blog tour celebrating the release of Bumble & Snug and the Angry Pirates by Mark Bradley (Hodder Children’s Books), a new graphic novel series about two adorable best friends. Bumble and Snug are Bugpops, little monsters with big feelings. When they decide to go on a picnic, they accidentally end up on a desert island, where they come across buried treasure . What could possibly go wrong? Well, a missing diamond with special powers, pirates and a cranky sea monster, that’s what!

Full of fun and vibrant colours, this is a brilliant graphic novel which, like Ben Clanton’s Narwhal and Jelly series, works just as well as a read aloud than as a book that can be read independently. It is, however, a little more sophisticated in terms of graphic novel structure than Narhwal and Jelly (more panels to a page and more variations in term of page structure for example) , so it offers a nice progression in terms of multimodal reading. What is particularly well done in Bumble and Snug is how much Mark Bradley includes in the artwork to guide and support his readers into learning to read sequential visual narratives, such as: a page structure that is never over-complex but remains constantly dynamic, the use of captions, dash lines as motion lines or to support labelling, the frame and panel structure changing to emulate changes in the narrative. All come together to provide support to navigate the structure more easily for younger readers. Reading graphic novels requires different skills to simply reading text. The visuals are a language in itself which also needs acquiring.
Graphic novels for emerging readers such as Bumble & Snug are therefore very helpful for readers to become skilled at decoding graphic novels.
They are also a highly motivating medium and according to Tracy Edmunds, they allow young children to more readily access more sophisticated narratives: “the comic format enables them to read much more complex stories than is possible with traditional text and illustration”.
It’s easy to see how this works in a book like Bumble & Snug, where feelings play a big part but as does humour and situation comedy. Look at these spreads:

So much that would take a lot of text to describe and so much which would not easily be describe in a way that a five year-old could access without pictures. Tracy Edmunds then adds: “when kids read enjoyable, complex, compelling stories they are motivated to read more, so graphic novels can be a great stepping stone to longer text works”. They offer the confidence and stimulation needed to access more sophisticated narratives whether in textual or visual form.

I think this is a really exciting time for graphic novels in the UK. They are finally being taken seriously and there is a big drive amongst educators for them to be promoted and accepted and used in the primary classroom like any other codex . And with “homegrown” talent like Mark Bradley coming through, there is much to be excited about. I can’t wait for Bumble & Snug’s next adventures!

I’m delighted to welcome Mark to Library Mice for an exciting fabulous five feature on graphic novels for young readers!

Five Fabulous Graphic Novels
for Young Readers
by Mark Bradley

I absolutely adore graphic novels for younger readers! One of the most important considerations in choosing comics for younger/new readers is ensuring that both the words and panel structures are easy to understand. Graphic novels for younger readers are the perfect introduction to the comics – they’re often charming stories, bursting with brilliant, funny and engaging characters, that will make children fall in love with comics!

Donut Feed The Squirrels
Mika Song

This beautiful graphic novel is about two squirrels, called Norma and Belly, who go on a mission to steal a huge donut! The dynamic of the two lead characters is so funny, and the simple brush stroke and watercolour artwork is both beautiful, and easy for young readers to interpret. It’s an absolute joy!

Narwhal: Unicorn Of The Sea
Ben Clanton

Ben Clanton, and his Narwhal & Jelly series of graphic novels, is the one of the biggest names in English language graphic novels for younger readers for good reason! Each book is a collection of three hilarious shorter stories, making them easier for younger readers to sit down with. The characters are wonderful, and the books are dynamic, and full of enthusiasm. They are guaranteed to young readers want more!

Baloney & Friends
Greg Pizzoli

This would be a perfect starter graphic novel for any young, independent reader. Pizzoli combines endearing characters, charming short stories and simple, bright designs. One of the most ingenious graphic choices is that each of the main characters is a single colour, and their accompanying speech bubbles matches the character’s colours. This makes it a very intuitive read, which will entertain those new to graphic novels.

Bunbun & Bonbon
Jess Keating

If your young reader wants an overload of cuteness, Bunbun & Bonbon is the perfect book! Following a lonely bunny and a bonbon who become best friends, the super simple panels, big bold lettering, and exuberant colours combine with a wonderfully cute story about friendship.

Johnny Boo
James Kochalka

I absolutely adore the Johnny Boo series! Each book follows two adorable little ghosts, called Johnny Boo and Squiggle, and a creature called the Ice Cream Monster. They are short books, with very easy to follow panels – the characters are endearing, and the stories are both funny and charming. They’re almost certain to be a hit with younger comic readers!

Thank you so much Mark for this amazing selection! My wish list has just grown considerably!

Don’t forget to follow the rest of the blog tour!

Bumble and Snug is out on 8th July and can be purchased from your local bookshop or online from our partner bookshop Storytellers Inc.: