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Graphic Novels & Bullying

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Lori Nick

on 10 April 2015

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Transcript of Graphic Novels & Bullying

Amanda Todd Legacy Society

Bibliotherapy Can Help Students to Cope with Bullying
According to Quinn, Barone, Kearns, Stackhouse & Zimmerman, "Use of a novel is a very natural way to open discussions and to increase awareness of the topic of bullying"(2003, p. 582).

There are many picture books and novels that contain a theme of bullying, including the folowing:
Using Graphic Organizers to Extract and Represent Meaning
Quinn et. al. note that "Graphic organizers are a great method to use with any form of text in the classroom. They help students who have difficulty with comprehension by allowing them to connect ideas in a meaningful way"(2003, p. 582).

Graphic organizers include Venn diagrams, mindmapping, word webs, and storyboards. These organizers can be used to summarize concepts in books or to create and depict original ideas about bullying. Graphic novel illustrators use sequential art to represent meaning. The following storyboards are examples of how students could use the technique to represent and summarize their learning about the theme of bullying in novels.
Bullying and anti-bullying strategies have been in the forefront of my community of Port Coquitlam since teenager Amanda Todd committed suicide in 2012. She was a victim of cyberbullying. Amanda lived a block away from me, and she went to school with my youngest daughter. There is a memorial bench in a park a few blocks away. As I pass the bench, I wonder if enough is being done to educate students and adults in our community and beyond about bullying.

Amanda's mother, Carol Todd has been a strong voice in the anti-bullying movement. She has created the Amanda Todd Legacy Society, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to the prevention and awareness of all forms of bullying.

There are many anti-bullying resources listed on ATL's website. I noticed that there aren't many books about bullying mentioned on the site that children and teens may want to read. Most books are non-fiction and meant for an adult audience. Graphic novels would be an effective medium to encourage children and teens to read about others who have experienced bullying.

My presentation will focus on junior and young adult graphic novels that address the topic of bullying.
Bullying is a Serious Issue
in Canada
1 in 3 adolescents have reported being bullied recently

40% of Canadian workers have experienced bullying on a weekly basis

Canada has the 9th highest rate of bulllying in the 13 year olds category in a scale of 35 countries

47% of Canadian parents report having a child victim of bullying

Bullying behaviours include:

Teasing, name-calling, hitting, spreading rumours, online harrassment.

( Canadian Institutes of Health Research, 2012.)
The ideas and meaning in the above books can be summarized and internalized by students using techniques of graphic novel illustrators.
Bullying is Addressed in these
Graphic Novels that are
Cataloged as Junior Fiction:
Babymouse is a student who is not overly fond of school. She faces challenges that most kids have to deal with at middleschool: fitting in, worry, and anxiety. She also has to cope with a bully: a cat named Felicia Furrypaws.

A spinoff from Babymouse, Squish is an amoeba that Babymouse discovers while working on a science project for school. In volume one, Squish protects his friends Pod and Peggy from Lynwood, a big amoeba bully.


Squish: Super Amoeba
by Jennifer S. Holm & Matthew Holm
Queen of the World: Volume One
Babymouse is bored. Every day is the same old thing. Where s the excitement? Why couldn t people see that she was meant to be a queen? Of course everyone already knew that the real queen was Felicia Furrypaws, the most popular girl in school. When Felicia announces that she s having a slumber party everyone wants an invitation. Babymouse will do anything to get her hands on one, but does that include ditching her best friend Wilson the Weasel? Will Babymouse triumph over Felicia? Will she ever get her locker unstuck? Will there be more cupcakes? (Snow, 2006).
In the first volume, Squish Super Amoeba, the theme of bullying and peer pressure crowd the pages along with cheeky and delicious dialogue, science facts, and (did I already mention?) the colour green. Squish’s best friends are the exuberant Peggy the Paramecium and fellow amoeba Pod. As in its sister series, there are plenty of gags, action, and a bit of introspection for the reader if he or she decides to go that route. Similar in style and shape to the Babymouse series, the cartoon-like characters and action are mostly enclosed in large, thickly drawn panel frames, with arrows and caption boxes explaining anatomical details and offering snarky asides for the reader. The corresponding and intersecting superhero adventure deals with similar moral predicaments, aiding Squish in making his difficult decisions. (deVos, 2014).
...more Junior Graphic Novels
Cam's down-and-out father gives him a cardboard box for his birthday and he knows it's the worst present ever. So to make the best of a bad situation, they bend the cardboard into a man-and to their astonishment, it comes magically to life. But the neighborhood bully, Marcus, warps the powerful cardboard into his own evil creations that threaten to destroy them all!
(TenNanpel, n.d.)
Geoffrey Hayes, author of the award-winning Benny and Penny series of easy-reader graphic novels, has a knack for telling warm, funny stories that show an expert attention to the childhood details. Patrick in a Teddy Bear’s Picnic and other stories features a series of short, stand-alone stories that follow little teddy bear Patrick as he goes on a picnic with his mother, endures the tyranny of nap time and stands up to Big Bear, the local bully.
(Plovnick, 2012, para. 1)
Meet the Flying Beaver Brothers! Ace is always out for adventure. Bub would rather just sleep. But when they discover an evil penguin plot while practicing for the big surfing competition, they’ll have to work together to save the day. Along the way, they meet their evil nemesis, the be-hatted bully Bruce, have an argument about puffins, and meet two possible allies, Bob and Bob. As for the evil penguin plot…let’s just say it involves lots of ice and underwater pipes!
(Wharton, 2011, para 1.)
Lunch – and justice – is served! Hector, Dee, and Terence are the Breakfast Bunch. They don’t expect any excitement out of their school day, other than fleeing from the school bully, Milmoe. But then they decide to find out if the lunch lady and her helper, Betty, are really as boring as they seem…and make an astonishing discovery! The lunch lady is Lunch Lady, serving justice to crooks (with a side order of sloppy joes). (Wharton, 2011, para. 1).

Tackling the Issue of Bullying with Graphic Novels

This combination of three artists' works
presents a book that will work with teens,
adults, bullies, and targets. Bullying is about
power through strength, money, age, and/or
popularity and social standing. It can happen
in middle school, the neighborhood, or
the business world. It relates to any of the
many ways people judge each other. Bullying
is about those who "have" over those who do
not. Heart Transplant is an excellent and
involving resource about bullying. (Bott, 2011, p. 71)

The stories within the pages of a book allow readers to wrestle with issues, to experience up close how words and actions shape and influence main characters and events. Readers see firsthand how a comment can cut, an action can damage, or a rumor can destroy. (Pytash, Morgan & Batchelor, 2013, p. 15).

Why Should Children, Teens and Adults Read Graphic Novels About Bullying?
To This Day:
for the Bullied and Beautiful
Shane Koyczan
Koyczan wrote a poem about his experiences with bullying growing up. The spoken word poet has collaborated with several artists to produce a video and book that illustrates his poem. Although this book is cataloged as Junior non-fiction, I have included it because the combination of words and art make this title an indispensable book in a library's collection about bullying.
To This Day Project
Young Adult Graphic Novels that Address Bullying
Jane's parents relocate to the suburbs when she's caught in a bomb attack in Metro City. Bored and lonely in her new town and school, the teen is thrilled when she meets three other girls named Jane, all of them as out of place as she is. They form a secret club, the Plain Janes, and decide to liven up the town with art. Some people like their work, but most are frightened, and the local police call the Plain Janes' work "art attacks." Castellucci gives each girl a distinct personality, and spirited, compassionate Main Jane is especially captivating. (Goldstein, 2007, p. 222)
...more Young Adult
Graphic Novels
It's getting harder and harder to stand out in the realm of graphic novels, but cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki do so easily with this illustrated diary of an unhappy high school student in early 1990s Toronto, trying to survive in a world of inappropriate crushes, low self-esteem, sexual ambiguity, teen suicide, and, toughest of all, high school dances. (Quill & Quire, 2008, p. 14).

by Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki
Jane, the Fox and Me
by Isabelle Arsenault
Illustrator Isabelle Arsenault recently won the illustrious Canadian Governor’s General Award for her illustrations for the original French publication of this title. Set in Quebec of the mid 1970s, with Fanny Britt’s exceptional text superbly translated into English by Christelle Morelli and Susan Ourliou, the book is a definite winner in all aspects. It is a thing of beauty with evocative black illustrations on mostly grey toned pages punctuated with the infrequent inclusion of colour that blooms gloriously to a satisfying conclusion. It is ironic, perhaps, that the beauty is wrapped around the very heavy theme of bullying and body image among teenage girls. (de Vos, 2014, para. 1).
Heart Transplant
by Andrew Vachss, Frank Caruso & Zak Mucha
The Plain Janes
by Cecil Castellucci & Jim Rugg
by Doug TenNapel
The Flying Beaver Brothers and the Evil Penguin Plan
by Maxwell Eaton III
Patrick in
a Teddy Bear's Picnic
by Geoffrey Hayes
Lunch Lady
by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

This is not an exhaustive list of graphic novels that address issues of bullying. I chose the junior and young adult graphic novels for my presentation because they have received positive reviews, and I have enjoyed reading them.

According to Prevnet, "Bullying is a complex problem that requires a multitude of approaches"(2015, para. 1). It is in everyone's interest to reduce, and hopefully one day eliminate bullying behaviour at school, in the home and at the workplace. Awareness of the problem is created when people of all ages watch and discuss educational videos, hear guest speakers, and attend anti-bullying events. An integral part of combating bullying also includes reading a variety of literature that puts the reader in the shoes of characters who experience bullying and its negative effects.

For information and resources about bullying, please see the links to the websites I have placed in my presentation.
Bott, C. J. (2011). Heart Transplant. Voice Of Youth Advocates, 34(1), 70-71.

Canadian Institutes of Health Research, 2012. Canadian Bullying Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/45838.html

de Vos, G. (2014, Feb. 25). Squish, vols 1-3. No Fliying No Tights. Retrieved from http://noflyingnotights.com/2014/02/25/babymouse-vol-14-mad-scientist-squish-vols-1-3/

de Vos, G. (2014, Jan. 12). Jane, the Fox and Me. No Flying No Tights. Retrieved from http://noflyingnotights.com/2014/01/12/jane-the-fox-me/

Goldstein, L. (2007). Castellucci, Cecil. The Plain Janes. School Library Journal, (9). 222.

Plovnick, C. (2012, June 10). Patrick in a teddy bear's picnic and other stories. No Flying No Tights. Retrieved from http://noflyingnotights.com/2012/06/10/patrick-in-a-teddy-bears-picnic-and-other-stories/

Pytash, K. E., Morgan, D. N., & Batchelor, K. E. (2013). Recognize the Signs: Reading Young Adult Literature to Address Bullying. Voices From The Middle, 20(3), 15-20.

Quill & Quire. (2008). Skim. 74(10), 14-16

Quinn, K. B., Barone, B., Kearns, J., Stackhouse, S. A., & Zimmerman, M. E. (2003). Using a novel unit to help understand and prevent bullying in schools: bullying affects most children. Reading activities helped middle school students become more aware of this serious issue. Journal Of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, (7), 582.

PrevNet. (2015). Facts and solutions. Retrieved from http://www.prevnet.ca/bullying/facts-and-solutions

Snow. (2006, Dec. 1). Babymouse, vol 1-4. No Flying No Tights. Retrieved from http://noflyingnotights.com/2006/12/01/babymouse-vol-1-4/

TenNapel, D. (n.d.). Cardboard. Retrieved from http://tennapel.com/comics.html

Wharton, J. (2011, Oct. 4). Lunch lady, vol. 1-6. No Flying No Tights. Retrieved from http://noflyingnotights.com/2011/10/04/lunch-lady-vol-1-6/

Wharton, J. (2011, Dec. 21). The Flying beaver brothers series. No Flying No Tights. Retrieved from http://noflyingnotights.com/2011/12/21/the-flying-beaver-brothers-and-the-evil-penguin-plan-the-flying-beaver-brothers-and-fishy-business/

From Babymouse, Queen of the World
by Lori Nick
Full transcript