Tuesday, November 17, 2015

STEM: Glow in the Dark!

I have always wanted to experiment with glow in the dark paint and today I finally got to! We also got to play around with neon paint which was a huge hit! I am so excited to share this program with you all. 

Age: My program was geared towards K-3 but this program definitely could be for older children up to 5th grade too! 

Time: 45 minutes

Glow in the Dark Lava Lamp Materials:
Clean plastic soda bottle with cap or glass mason jar with lid
Vegetable oil (the cheaper the better)
Alka Seltzer (or similar antacid tablets)

Neon paint and glow in the dark paint
A UV light (also called a black light) if possible

Here is some of the paint I bought from Meijer:

Glow in the Dark Bracelet or Bead Maze Materials: 
Glow in the dark beads
pipe-cleaner or stretchy string*
*younger kids may have trouble putting beads on the string so a pipe-cleaner bracelet might be a much easier.

You could also have them make glow in the dark pipe-cleaner sculptures if you have Styrofoam squares! I blogged about making pipe-cleaner sculptures here

Optional Materials:
Glow in the dark bracelets from the dollar store as a freebie gift (they were cheap! Only $2 for 16 of them!) 


The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer's Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors by Chris Barton, Illustrated by Tony Persiani

Another option: What Was I Scared Of? A Glow-in-the-Dark Encounter by Dr. Seuss (this book looks awesome under a black light)


1) First we started the program by reading  the book, The Day-Glo Brothers by Chris Barton. The book is quite long so I will admit that I did paraphrase a few of the pages because some of the younger kids in kindergarten were started to look restless. The 2nd graders seemed to have no problem listening though. It's such a perfect book for this program though as it talks about how these two brothers discovered the glowing chemical  --  "Together the brothers built their own ultraviolet lamp. One night they took it into their dad's drugstore. In the darkened storeroom, they aimed the light at the bottles and boxes on the shelves. There, in the dark, the chemical stained label on a bottle of eyewash emitted a yellow glow." The book features the very materials we need for this program! Black (ultraviolet) lights, neon fluorescent paint and glow-in-the-dark paint. So perfect!

2) Afterwards I began to talk about our little science experiment. I asked the children "What happens when you mix oil and water? Raise your hand if you know!" One child did say "They don't mix!" And I said, yes! That's right. Let's see it in action now. I then did a simple demonstration and showed them how we would mix 1/4 of the bottle with water and then fill the bottle with Dollar Store vegetable oil so it was about 3/4 full. 

3) Next, I told the children I was going to squirt some neon and glow-in-the-dark paint into my bottle. 

4) Then, I added an alka seltzer tablet and showed them the amazing lava lamp effect!

5) I then read the following paragraphs from the Steve Spangler Website to explain how it works:
"First of all, you confirmed what you already knew… oil and water do not mix. The molecules of water do not like to mix with the molecules of oil. Even if you try to shake up the bottle, the oil breaks up into small little drops, but the oil doesn’t mix with the water.
When you pour the water into the bottle with the oil, the water sinks to the bottom and the oil floats to the top. This is the same as when oil from a ship spills in the ocean. The oil floats on top of the water. Oil floats on the surface because water is heavier than oil. Scientists say that the water is more dense than the oil.
Here’s the surprising part… The Alka-Seltzer tablet reacts with the water to make tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide gas. These bubbles attach themselves to the blobs of colored water and cause them to float to the surface. When the bubbles pop, the color blobs sink back to the bottom of the bottle. Now that’s a burst of color! Your own homemade lava lamp… groovy baby!"
6) I had bottles prefilled with 1/4 of water just to save time. Next, I had children take turns pouring oil into the bottles. Some of the younger kids didn't want to do it so I did it for them which was fine by me. They enjoyed seeing the oil and water together and watching the oil settle on top. 
7) Next I told the children to add paint of their choice.  I said to add about 6 squirts and they were good at following the rule on that!
8) After children were done adding their paint I told them to break up the Alka-Seltzer tablets into four pieces and put them into their bottles to watch it fizz and bubble!
10) After adding their Alka-Seltzer tablets, they got to see the amazing lava lamp effect! I also allowed them to carry their bottles to the counter where the black light was sitting. They were in awe of the glowing colors and seemed mezmerized. The kids asked questions like "Will it ever stop doing that?" I told them that yes, eventually the bubbles would settle but the oil and water would still not mix. It was a fun teaching moment. 

See it in action:

11) After this the children made their glow-in-the-dark bracelets! It was a really fun program and I would definitely do it again!
More pictures: 

Hope you enjoyed this blog entry today. If you have any other suggestions for glow in the dark experiments feel free to share them in the comments!  

Friday, November 13, 2015

Preschool Pals: Cupcakes, Cats, Chickens & Cows - Letter C Storytime

1. I open my Preschool Pals program by introducing the letter of the week. For this week I chose the letter C! I usually type of a list of words that begin with C and I'll have pictures of the items to reinforce what the letter C starts with. Here is a Google doc that I have for you to see what I do!

2. Book: If You Give a Cat a Cupcake by Laura Numeroff

Classic spin-off of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff. Love this book so much! Doesn't mention as many c words as I wish but it's too cute to pass up. Plus it was the perfect segue into the flannel board story that I shared next. 

2. Flannel Board Story: Five Cupcakes

Adapted words to fit the C concept from a flannel board story found on Storytime Katie. For this flannel board story I used my cat puppet (named Chloe, of course) and had her pretend to eat the cupcakes. Then after all the cupcakes were gone I said she bought candy instead. Then I said the cat had gotten very fat and needed to take a nap. The kids REALLY loved this and thought it was hilarious. I also told them we were subtracting! Yay math! Here are the verses:

Down around the corner in the bakery shop
Were five yummy cupcakes with sprinkles on top
Along comes cat with some change to pay
She buys a cupcake and takes it away

Down around the corner in the bakery shop
Were four yummy cupcakes with sprinkles on top
Along comes cat with some change to pay
She buys a cupcake and takes it away

Down around the corner in the bakery shop
Were three yummy cupcakes with sprinkles on top
Along comes cat with some change to pay
She buys a cupcake and takes it away

Down around the corner in the bakery shop
Were two yummy cupcakes with sprinkles on top
Along comes cat with some change to pay
She buys a cupcake and takes it away

Down around the corner in the bakery shop
Was one yummy cupcake with sprinkles on top
Along comes cat with some change to pay
She buys the last cupcake and takes it away

Down around the corner in the bakery shop
Were zero yummy cupcake with sprinkles on top
Along comes cat with some change to pay
She buys candy instead and takes it away!

3. Ralph's World : Driving in my Car --- KIDS LOVE THIS SONG! The preschoolers got super into it. The perfect song to let out some wiggles and also say another "c" word: car! :D 

4. Scat the Cat File Folder Story

Seriously obsessed with this story that I found in our flannel board story inventory. A previous employee where I work made it and I looked it up and it appears to have been adapted from a common story about a cat who didn't want to be black anymore. I can only assume that the person who typed this up had adapted it from the original story. Anyways, the kids were very engaged with this adapted story and absolutely loved it. I personally love it because it teaches a message that is so important. The message is that we should accept who we are and not try to be something we are not. I am so happy I discovered this story! You can learn how to recreate this story at drjean.org but I seriously recommend you follow the words I have adapted here rather than the original:

Once upon a time there was a little orange cat & his name was Scat. One day he looked around & saw that all his brothers & sisters & friends were orange too. Scat decided he would like to be a different color so he said,

I’m Scat the Cat. I’m sassy and fat.
And I can change my colors just like that! (snap fingers)

As quick as a wink, he  changed colors. He wasn’t an orange cat anymore. Now he was YELLOW. Yellow like a lemon—yellow like butter—yellow like a lion.

He went outside t show off his new color to his brothers and sisters, but… as soon as they saw him, they all screamed and ran away. “Eke!” they said. “A lion! Run for your lives!” And Scat was left all alone. So he said,

I’m Scat the Cat. I’m sassy and fat.
And I can change my colors just like that! (snap fingers)

And just like that, he changed colors. This time he was GREEN. What else is green like Scat? He went out to play with his friends, but they couldn’t find him because he was the color of the trees & grass. Well, this color just wasn’t fun at all. You couldn’t have fun playing if no one could see you. So, he decided to try a different color. He said:

I’m Scat the Cat. I’m sassy and fat.
And I can change my colors just like that! (snap fingers)

Scat turned BLUE, like water, the sky, and what else? He rushed to show everyone his new color, but they all went out to play. Scat was in such a hurry to find them, he forgot to wach where he was going and suddenly SPLASH! He fell in the water. He called out for help, but he was the same color as the water. No one could see him!

Scat was getting really scared, but luckily, his friend Timmy Turtle swam nearby and Scat was able to jump on Timmy’s back and ride safely to shore.
“Whew!” said Scat. I don’t want to be blue anymore. That was too scary! So Scat said:

I’m Scat the Cat. I’m sassy and fat.
And I can change my colors just like that! (snap fingers)

Scat turned bright RED, like an apple! Wow! They could surely see him now! Scat was excited about his bright new color. He went to play with everyone, but they all laughed at him. “Whoever heard of a red cat?! No one played with him & he felt so sad. 

(At this point I asked the children if it was nice to not play with someone because of their color and they all agreed that no, it was not nice at all!)

“I don’t want to be red anymore. I don’t want to be blue like the water, I don’t want to be green like the grass, and I don’t want to be yellow like a lion. I want to be orange again, just like my brother’s and sisters and friends. I’d like to have a lot of cats to play with so he said:

I’m Scat the Cat. I’m sassy and fat.
And I can change my colors just like that! (snap fingers)

Scat changed back to ORANGE and after that he was very happy just being himself.

(Then I talk again about the message – We should just be happy being ourselves and not try to be someone we’re not. Scat was happiest just being who he was: an orange cat.)

4. Book: Cupcakes by Charise Mericle Harper

This is SUCH a fun book. Perfect for teaching the letter C for it talks about cheese, candles, cupcakes, and colors. Love love love it.  It's also hilarious and the children LOVE IT! 

5. Letter C Say & Touch Poem 
(Written by me. Please credit by linking to my blog if you use this! Thank you!)

Say "cheddar" and touch your head.
Say "cry" and touch your eye.
Say "care" and touch your hair. Say "couch" and touch your mouth. Say "crows" and touch your nose. Say "chin" and touch your chin. Say "crest" and touch your chest. Say "charm" and touch your arm. Say "crummy" and touch your tummy. Say "cheese" and touch your knees. Say "cleat" and touch your feet.
6. Book: Big Chickens by Leslie Helakosky

This is another perfect book to read which teaches the letter C! This one is extra special because it teaches the "ch" sound that c makes when you pair it with h. The book also has a lot of repetition which makes it really great for preschoolers. It's just a hilarious, fun, and colorful book overall. The book even features cows, another c word animal!
7. Ending Song: I Know a Chicken by the Laurie Berkner Band, from the Cd Whaddaya Think of That?

Oh, I know a chicken (I know a chicken)
And she laid an egg (And she laid an egg)
Oh I know a chicken (I know a chicken)
And she laid an egg (And she laid an egg)
Oh my goodness (Oh my goodness)
It’s a shaky egg! (It’s a shaky egg!)
Shake your eggs!
Other Verses:
-Shake em fast 
– Shake em slow- you know how it goes 
– Shake em in a circle don’t let touch the ground cause you shake them round n round.

After the song I gave children a cow stamp on their hand and then I passed out a camel letter puppet that children can color and make at home. These little puppets are really popular! I had a kid this week who came to me with his peacock letter p popsicle stick puppet that he had made at home. It was so adorable because he thought he had to give me the puppet but I told him he could keep it and he was super thrilled!

You can download and print the PDF of the letter c puppet here from quality-kids-crafts.com

View more letter puppets here

Hope you enjoyed this colorful storytime focusing on the letter C! 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Fall Preschool Storytime!

1. Opening song: Jim Gill – Celebrate 
This is such a great song! Perfect for any holiday celebration or just any regular story time. Kids love it and it's not terribly long either which makes it a great opening song. 

2. Book: Sneeze, Big Bear, Sneeze! by Maureen Wright

This is definitely a longer book so if you have a really young audience, I'd probably avoid reading this. However, the preschoolers I visited at the daycare center really enjoyed the book! The book is about a bear who believes that his sneezes are what is causing the leaves to fall. He even thinks that his sneeze is the reason apples fall from trees and the reason geese migrate. The talking wind tries to convince the bear otherwise as she knows the real cause of events.This is a great book because it discusses many different elements of fall (wind, leaves, colds during fall, apples, etc), making it an excellent book for any autumn themed storytime. 

3. Flannel Board Story: 5 Little Leaves

Five little leaves on the tree next door
One fell off and then there were four
Four little leaves all over the tree
One fell off and then there were three
Three little leaves where the wind blew
One fell off and then there were two
Two little leaves sitting in the sun
One fell off and then there was one
One little leaf in the tree all alone
The wind blew and blew now there are none!

4. Action Song: Leaves are Falling Down
For this song I handed out leaves that I cut out using an Ellison shape. I cut the leaves in different colors and told the children that we are going to be putting the leaf on different parts of our body. 

The leaves are falling down, falling down (wave leaf up and down) 
The leaves are falling down, falling down
The leaves are falling down their falling all around  (wave leaf all around) 
The leaves are falling down, falling down (wave leaf up and down) 

There’s a leaf on my shoe, on my shoe (put leaf on shoe)
There’s a leaf on my shoe, on my shoe 
There’s a leaf on my shoe, I don’t know what to do 
There’s a leaf on my shoe, on my shoe 

There’s a leaf on my hip, on my hip (put leaf on hip)
There’s a leaf on my hip, on my hip 
There’s a leaf on my hip, I’m glad it’s not my lip 
There’s a leaf on my hip, on my hip 

There’s a leaf on my belly, on my belly  (put leaf on belly)
There’s a leaf on my belly, on my belly 
There’s a leaf on my belly, I can make it shake like jelly (shake belly with leaf on it)
There’s a leaf on my belly, on my belly 

There’s a leaf on my shoulder, on my shoulder (put leaf on shoulder)
There’s a leaf on my shoulder, on my shoulder 
There’s a leaf on my shoulder, I’m glad it’s not a boulder 
There’s a leaf on my shoulder, on my shoulder 

There’s a leaf on my nose, on my nose (put leaf on nose)
There’s a leaf on my nose, on my nose 
There’s a leaf on my nose, boy it really goes 
There’s a leaf on my nose, on my nose (blow the leaf off the nose and watch the leaf fall to the ground)

5. Book: Aaaargghh Spider! by Lydia Monks

If you live in Illinois you'll know that spiders are rampant around the fall season, especially around Halloween time! This is one of my absolute favorite books and it is a great read aloud. The first page apears that humans are living upside down but the page is viewed from the spider's perspective. A preschooler even yelled out "The  book is upside down!" so I explained that the scene is viewed from the spider's perspective, as she clings to the ceiling. Not sure if the child really got it but its a funny opening page. The entire book is about a spider who wants to be a family's pet but each time the spider tries to entertain them, they toss her outside, screaming, "Aaaarrgghh! Spider!" Disappointed, she stalks off to live in the backyard. I love to read this ouloud because I can be very animated as I say "Aaaarrgghh! Spider! Out. You. Go!"

6. Song: Spider on the Floor by Raffi

For this song I told the children to pretend their hand was a spider and follow along. If I had a spider puppet, I'd use that too :) 

8. Book: Odd Dog by Claudia Boldt
This is one of my favorite books to read around fall time! I have read this book several times and even blogged about it 2 years ago, here

9. Flannel Board: 5 Apples in a Basket

This flannel is super cute! I actually blogged about it 2 years ago but wanted to share it again since it's so cute. It's also great to use during the week of thanksgiving. I got the idea from this Falling Flannelboard blog!

Here are the words:

The first apple in the basket was a bright and shiny red.
The second apple in the basket said, “My what a cozy bed.”
The third apple in the basket said, “Now we two are a pair.”
The fourth apple int he basket said, “Please move over there.”

The fifth apple in the basket said, “Oh dear, oh me, oh my!  This basket looks like a pastry–I think we’re in a pie!”

10. Song: Shake Break by Pancake Manor
If you've read my blog at all you've probably noticed that this is one of my all time favorite storytime songs. It's perfect to play whenever you notice children getting really squirmy!

11. Book: Penguin & Pumpkin by Salina Yoon
This is such an adorable book! I love the entire penguin series by Salina Yoon. This book is specifically about when Penguin and Bootsy plan a field trip in search of fall and Penguin's little brother, Pumpkin, wants to come but is too little. At the farm, all the pumpkins Penguin sees remind him of this special brother and when he returns home they bring a special surprise of leaves to show Pumpkin what autumn is all about. At the end they show the leaves being thrown from a cliff and it says that fall is like snowing leaves! 

12. Flannel Board Story: Chocolate Chip Pumpkin

This is actually adopted by the story "Chocolate Chip Ghost" that I learned from a coworker at my last job. Instead of ghosts, I figured it would be cute to make the story about pumpkins instead!

Once upon a time there was a Mama Pumpkin and five little pumpkins who lived in a dusty old haystack. They were all a bright and shiny orange. Mama pumpkin made sure they stayed so orange by letting them eat orange juice.

Once day, just before suppertime, when Mama Pumpkin looked into the refrigerator, there were no oranges for their supper! She quickly got ready to go to the grocery store. Just before she left she told her five little pumpkins to be sure not to eat anything, since she would be back with their suppers very soon. With that, she gave them all a kiss and went off to the grocery store.

All went well for a time, but soon the first little pumpkin said “I’m hungry. I really want something to eat.” And with that, he opened the refrigerator door and found a red ripe strawberry and ate it all up. And he turned bright red.

The second little pumpkin said “No fair! I’m hungry too.” And opened the refrigerator and found a lemon meringue pie and ate it all up. She turned a bright yellow.
The third little pumpkin started crying that he was hungry too and ran to the refrigerator and drank a glass of grape juice and turned purple.
The fourth little pumpkin was mad because she was hungry and the only thing left in the refrigerator was a piece of lettuce which she ate, and it turned her green!
The last little pumpkin was hungry, hungry, hungry. But when he looked in the refrigerator there was nothing to eat! But he was hungry, hungry, hungry! So he looked in all the drawers, and in all the cabinets, and finally on the very top shelf of a cupboard, there was a cookie jar. And in that cookie jar was one chocolate chip cookie. The little pumpkin was so hungry that he ate in all up in one snap! And He turned chocolate chip colored!

Just then Mama Pumpkin returned from the grocery store with orange juice  for the little pumpkin’s suppers. My, oh, my! Was she surprised to see all her little pumpkins all the colors of the rainbow! 

You naughty little pumpkins! Come and get your supper right now! So she gave each of them a glass of orange juice and each little pumpkin turned a bright and shiny orange again. 


I usually close with Silly Dance Contest by Jim Gill if there is time or I'll just end it and give a stamp on all the children's hands!

Hope you enjoyed this fun and colorful fall storytime :) 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Rich, Susan. Half-Minute Horrors. Harper, 2009. Grades 4-8

America’s leading children’s authors and illustrators come together to share their own thirty second horror stories in just 3 pages or less. Authors and illustrators such as Erin Hunter, James Patterson, Neil Gaiman, Brian Selznick, and Dan Gutman provide eerie tales through a variety of means, including comics, scary art, haikus, short vivid stories, and more. These bone-chilling episodes are depicted through original illustrations and rich descriptive language but often end in the middle of hair-raising action, leaving a lot to the imagination of the reader. In one bewildering comic by R Sala, a boy is kidnapped by an unnerving man in a painting at the doctor’s office: “…That’s when he noticed the old man’s hands. They were bony and scaly and had long pointed nails.” Illustrations paired with this text show the long fingers reaching out from the painting grabbing the wide-eyed boy and end with the mother screaming: “And her screams could be heard all the way down the street.” Although most stories are all written or illustrated in a page or two, each author has their own unique style. Jon Klassen, for example, slyly tells a disturbing tale of a murdered girl’s body being buried in multiple places, but does so in a one page black and white illustration of a house with a numbered list of what's in the ground, leaving the reader to figure out the creepy synopsis by analyzing the text and drawing. Although each of these stories are not equally spooky, the diverse mix is sure to interest elementary and middle school children, especially reluctant readers who don’t like long chapter books. Readers unacquainted with horror stories may also find that the blend of illustration and text are the perfect vehicle to explore the macabre sides of their favorite authors. Ultimately, through a variety of sinister drawings, descriptive imagery, and clever comics, Half Minute Horrors contains a collection of artfully crafted horror stories for children that also work as the perfect Halloween read aloud (by campfire or flashlight, of course).

Also, in keeping with the spooky nature of this children's book, check out this zomibie-fied photo of me! With the help of Michelle Bober, Marketing Associate at Naperville Public Library, I was turned into a Zombie who loves to read! This was created to promote the teen Summer Reading Program in 2014.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

STEM: Cardboard Box Challenge

So it's about time I talk about STEM, particularly with regards to dramatic play and engineering! This blog post is especially dedicated to Caine Monroy who inspired the Cardboard Box Challenge with Caine's Arcade. Essentially, a filmmaker went to buy a door handle for his car and he met this 9 year old boy named Caine who had spent his summer building this elaborate cardboard arcade inside his dad's used auto part store. Caine invited him to play, and he couldn't pass up his "FunPass deal." The filmmaker then decided to make a short 10 minute film all about Caine's Arcade and let me tell you... this film is VERY moving. It totally brought me to tears! The video is posted below or can be viewed at the following Vimeo link: https://vimeo.com/40000072

Eventually hundreds of thousands of dollars started pouring into Caine's college fund and the Imagination Foundation was born. They then launched a "Global Day of Play" as part of their "Global Cardboard Challenge." The day takes place on the first Saturday of October (the anniversary of the 'surprise flashmob' the filmmaker & community did to make Caine's day in the Caine's Arcade short film). 

With the Cardboard Box Challenge, friends, family, co-workers and community members all over the world can come out to play at local events, celebrating the creativity and imagination of kids everywhere. Child directed play is not only fun, it's extremely powerful for self esteem and learning. Here are just a few of the benefits:

  • When children pretend they are motivated and engaged in learning. 
  • Pretending helps to stimulate memory and facilitate understanding of their world.
  • Pretending increases their ability to use symbolic communication 
  • Participating in arts like drama helps to develop analytical skills, an eye for detail, and expanded descriptive vocabulary through listening and responding. 
  • Physical development is promoted as children learn to use different parts of their bodies to express themselves.

“Build anything you can dream,” is the motto behind the Cardboard Challenge.  In addition to instilling creativity within children, the Cardboard Box Challenge inspires children to become engineers for a day.  Playing with cardboard boxes and other building materials develops math and science skills too, helping children learn about gravity, balance, shapes, and problem solving. If this were a library program, you could even provide challenges for children and families to complete if they so choose:

Challenge it:

  • How tall can you make a tower?
  • Build a tunnel you can crawl through
  • Build something as a team
  • Build something in five minutes
  • Build a game you can play
The other thing I love about the Cardboard Challenge is that it reminds parents that they don't have to have a lot of expensive gadgets to have a good time with their kids. Children can easily use everyday materials to make something fun, functional or beautiful! As a child, my favorite time in the world was when my parents would buy a new refrigerator or appliance because the box that it would come in was always a ginormous box that could be transformed into something magnificent. That large box could be a spaceship, a time traveling device, a submarine, or anything my mind could come up with. I am so blessed to have had parents who always allowed me time to play freely with random materials at hand.  It is probably why I am the creative individual I am to this day :) I was never afraid to take risks and be creative. 

I seriously hope to someday implement an imaginative day of play like The Cardboard Box Challenge at a library where I work! Read more about it at http://cardboardchallenge.com/

"Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun." --Mary Lou Cook

"Caine's Arcade Global Day of Play & Cardboard Challenge." Caine's Arcade. 2015. Web. 13 Sept. 2015.
"Stem Sprouts: Science Technology Engineering and Math Teaching Guide." Boston Children's Museum. Web. 10 Sept. 2015.
 "Young Children and the Arts: Making Creative Connections: A Report of the Task Force on Children’s Learning and the Arts: Birth to Age Eight." Arts Education Partnership, 1998. Web. 13 Sept. 2015. .

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

YA Book Review: Ghost World by Daniel Clowes

This is a book review for Ghost World by Daniel Clowes. This is one of my all time favorite books and I've even had the wonderful opportunity to meet Daniel Clowes himself this past May :) He signed a couple of my original Eightball comics and he signed the complete Eightball collection that I purchased that day at the bookstore. Here is a picture of me getting my comics signed!

Clowes, Daniel. Ghost World. Seattle: Fantagraphics, 2001. Print. Ages 16+

This graphic novel follows best friends Enid and Rebecca, two recent high school graduates and best friend, as they spend their summer in their uninspiring suburb.  Ghost World, based on the seminal comic book Eightball , released in the 1990s, is comprised of eight related short stories about the day-to-day lives of snarky teenage girls living on the brink of adulthood. The conversations between Enid and Rebecca are dark, witty, and hilarious: “He always accuses me of trying to look 'cool'... I was like, 'everybody tries to look cool, I just happen to be successful...' What, does he think that most people are trying to look bad?” Clowes has crafted a masterpiece with conversational language that is completely genuine of angsty teenage outcasts.  Ghost World also contains a colorful array of quirky characters, including weirdos they spy on at their favorite diner such as a Neo-Nazi, suspected Satanists, and a psychic who looks like Don Knotts.  The best part of Ghost World is that Enid and Rebecca’s lives realistically embody the transitional period which young adults experience post-graduation in a way that is authentically hysterical without feeling contrived. Through Enid’s display of raw emotions, crude language, and unfiltered criticism of the people around her, she becomes a loveable character that is witty, sarcastic, strong, and smart. Enid shares her innermost thoughts in a way that may resonate with teens and young adults today: “The trouble is, the kind of guy I want to go out with doesn’t even exist… Like a rugged, chain-smoking, intellectual, adventurer guy, who’s really serious, but also really funny and mean…” Clowes depicts the journey of Enid and Rebecca through dense text paired with remarkably detailed artwork, providing readers with a clear understanding of the insecurity and frustration the characters are feeling.  Clowes successfully draws readers into this dreary suburb through meticulous sketches drawn in aqua-blue, white, and black, as if the lives of Enid and Rebecca are lit by the blue hue of a vintage tube T.V.  Aqua-washed illustrations paired with precisely drawn facial expressions of the colorful assortment of people in Enid’s life provide the perfect framework to tell the story of a nonconforming teen just figuring things out.

-Sarah Prokop