stone arch books

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 | |

A few weeks ago, we got a big shipment of new books for our library--all graphic novels, hundreds of them, enough to fill at least a dozen shelves. I first heard about them when I came into work at my usual time in the afternoon; my coworkers were talking about how they were already a big hit with the students in the morning and a great idea for them. When I got my first look at them, I saw the name of the publisher on the cover: Stone Arch Books. That's funny, I thought; reminds me of the Stone Arch Bridge!

stone arch books

When I got a chance to look through them, I found that, sure enough, they're a Minneapolis-based publisher catering to the educational market.

stone arch books 2

Some of their titles are original stories (sample titles: Secret of the Summer School Zombies and Robot Rampage: A Buzz Beaker Brainstorm). But others are adaptations of Romantic and Victorian classics, with early sci-fi well represented--Verne (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Center of the Earth), H. G. Wells' (The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds), Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, etc. This is the stuff I always checked out from the library in elementary school, and it's cool to see now that they're currently the most popular ones with the kids at my school. Although the adaptations are indeed, as the publisher's site claims, " No violence, no inappropriate subjects, no all-cap texts," they thankfully don't shy away from the darker bits of the source material, either.

I found this out when I was chose to read Wells' The Invisible Man to my 1st grade students in their intensive reading class. It was labeled as a grade 2 book, which is what I usually have them cover. Going into it, I didn't quite realize that the invisible man is an insane terrorist who sneaks into innocent people's houses, throws axes at them, issues death threats, chokes a man to death, pledges to single-handedly cast a Reign of Terror across all of England, and is eventually beaten to death by a mob, where his naked body slowly becomes visible as his life leaves him--but I sure knew it by the end of reading it to my first graders.

The kids loved it, by the way. The next day, all 5 copies of it were checked out, and I had 4th graders coming up to me asking if I knew where it was. I have to remind myself how much children can handle. When I was in 3rd grade my favorite books were Michael Crichton's Sphere and Jurassic Park...