Katie's Korner: Graphic Novel Reviews for Schools and Libraries

The Royal Book of Oz
Published by: Clover Press
Written by: Ruth Plumly Thompson
Illustrated by: Sara Richards
ISBN: 9781951038021
Ages: 13+


As L. Frank Baum published his Oz stories he created the illusion that characters like Dorothy could send him updates from the magical world of Oz, and Baum would share those updates with his readership in upcoming stories. After Baum passed away, however, a group of writers were deemed “Royal Historians” of Oz, writers who could continue to relay the history and the stories coming out of Oz. Ruth Plumly Thompson was one of those Royal Historian writers.

Thompson’s Royal Book of Oz begins with Professor Wogglebug’s announcement that he will create a genealogy of all the important people who live in Oz. When the genealogy is complete, however, Scarecrow is left off the report because he has no known family of origin before arriving in Oz. Feeling singled out and distraught, Scarecrow returns to his home in Munchkin Country to investigate whether or not he does or does not have family roots in Oz.

Digging at the base of the beanpole where Dorothy originally found him hanging, Scarecrow breaks through the ground and falls through the earth and into another country. Scarecrow’s fall lands him on the Silver Islands. Not sure of how the natives will receive him Scarecrow is surprised to find out that the Silver Islanders think Scarecrow is their long Emperor Chang Wang Woe. According to the Silver Islanders, Scarecrow has fulfilled the prophecy that their Emperor will return and lead them forward.

Meanwhile, back in Oz, Dorothy is worried about Scarecrow’s feelings in response to the new genealogy research from Professor Wogglebug. Teamed up with the Cowardly Lion, and some new friends they meet along the way, Dorothy and her friends find Scarecrow just in time to see that he needs their help now more than ever. Scarecrow is not the Silver Islanders long lost Emperor, and he is certainly not prepared to lead them into their upcoming battles. 

Language Arts Elements of Story

Plot: After announcing his plan to create a genealogy report on the important people of Oz, Professor Wogglebug accidentally insults the Scarecrow by claiming he has no family, no background in the land of Oz. Hurt by his lack of acknowledgment and family connection on the genealogy report, Scarecrow goes home to Munchkin Country to look into his familial roots. While digging around, Scarecrow discovers a lot more than he thought possible in another land far, far away. 

Key Characters: Gilda, the Good Sorceress of Oz, the Wizard of Oz, Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, Dorothy Gale, Professor Wogglebug, Sir Hokus of Pokes, Doubtful Dromedary, Comfortable Camel, Emperor of the Silver Islands, Silver Islanders, Happy Toko (aka: Tappy Oko), King of the Golden Islands, Emperor Chang Wang Woe

Major Settings:

            Marvelous Land of Oz: Emerald City, Munchkin Country, Quadling Country, Gilikin                        

            Country, Winkie Country, Impassable Desert, Deadly Desert, Shifting Sands, Great Sandy Waste,  Wish Way, Poke, Silver Islands.

            The Magical Countries surrounding Oz: Land of Eu, Kingdom of In, Noland, Merry                        

            Land, The Enchanted Isle of YEU, Nonestic Ocean, Boboland.

Major Themes: Magic, Royalty, Family & Friendship, Identity and Place of Origin

Lesson Plan Recommendations Using the Common Core Standards for Middle-Level Readers

Key Ideas and Details


Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

*  The number(s) referenced above corresponds to the number used by the Common Core Standards (www.corestandards.com

Lesson Plan


Because 21st century standards value diverse modes of literary expression, like those found in illustrated texts and The Royal Book of Oz, students and teachers can start taking more time to analyze how text and illustration work together to create larger story meanings.

  1. As students read The Royal Book of Oz, ask them to pause their reading experience at each illustration and respond to the following questions:
  2. Why does this illustration appear at this point in the story?
  3. What is the illustration highlighting about the textual story? The plot? The characters? The setting? The rising action? The conflict? The resolution? Et cetera . . .
  4. What do I learn from the illustration that I do not gain from just reading the text alone?
  5. How does the artistic style and / or use of colors influence my understanding of the story?
  6. What do readers learn about the story and / or any of its elements by taking this illustration into consideration?
  7. What is the tone or mood of the illustration, and how do I know?
  8. What does the illustration add to the story’s overall meaning so far?

When done reading the text and its illustrations ask students to pick three illustrations that best helped them understand the overall story. Next, ask students to write captions or descriptions for the illustrations, being sure to highlight aspects of the story that the illustrations convey more significantly than the text.


Green Lantern Legacy
Published by: DC Comics
Written by: Minh Le
Illustrated by: Andie Tong
ISBN: 9781401283551
Ages: 8+


When the visionary billionaire Xander Griffin shows up unannounced at the funeral for Tai Pham’s grandmother everyone in Coast City is a little bit stunned, especially Tai and his friends. When Griffin next makes it a point to introduce himself to Tai, he states that he is attending the funeral because he is a longtime admirer of Chi Dao (Tai’s grandmother). When he leaves, Griffin even tells Tai to give him a ring if he ever needs anything.

With their curiosities piqued, Tai and his friends find the perfect opportunity to actually give him Griffin a ring; their teacher has just assigned a report on “Visionaries and Social Innovation.” After school and before they meet with Griffin, however, Tai lies down for an afternoon nap, only to wake up to hear “Low battery. Recharge needed.” Before Tai can figure out where the voice is coming from, the jade ring he inherited from his grandmother begins to illuminate and lift him up and out of his bed. Now in mid-air, the energy of the ring races Tai’s body out of his room, down the hall, and straight into the storage room door.

When he opens the door, Tai finds the storage room filled with a diverse array of colorful lit up lanterns: “Wait . . . this isn’t the storage closet.” Before Tai can think any further, however, his ring illuminates once again and pulls him toward one particular lantern, a green lantern. The green lantern offers Tai a note that reads: “In brightest day, in blackest night . . . No evil shall escape my sight . . . Let those who worship evil’s might, beware my power . . . Green Lantern’s lights!” Before he can put the note down, an instantaneous swirl of green light engulfs Tai and whisks him away to another world where a man glowing in neon green is hovering in mid-air and waiting for him.

Standing in mid-air before Tai is the legendary Green Lantern John Stewart. Stewart informs Tai that his grandmother was a legendary superhero in the Green Lantern Corps and that the ring has now chosen Tai as the earth’s next Green Lantern protector. As he learns about his grandmother’s Green Lantern lore and is trained in the Green Lantern Corps, Tai almost forgets his school report on Griffin.

Interviewing Griffin and learning about the Green Lanterns at the same time, however, might just be the perfect combination for Tai. With knowledge of the Green Lanterns, the Yellow Lanterns, and Griffin’s innovative goals for the future of Coast City in mind, Tai might be perfectly placed to prove that he does indeed have the courage and bravery to follow in his heroic grandmother’s footsteps and protect not only earth, but also Coast City.

Language Arts Elements of Story

Plot: When Tai’s grandmother can no longer run the family-owned Jade Market in Coast City, Tai inherits her jade ring. Much more than it seems, the jade ring is actually a Green Lantern ring. Tai has inherited a legendary role as the next Green Lantern protector of earth. 

Key Characters: Tai Pham, Ba Noi/Chi Dao, Long, Lan Pham, Bee Pham, Tommy, Serena, Jordan, Xander Griffin, Mr. & Mrs. Pham, Orhan, Green Lantern John Stewart, Green Lantern Iolande, Sinestro, Yellow Lantern Corps.

Major Settings: Coast City, Jade Market, Coast City Junior High, Storage Closet, Vietnam, Green Lantern Corps, Tression Headquarters

Major Themes: Heroism, Kindness, Curiosity, Wisdom and Will, Peace, Generational Heroes, Past-Present-Future of Innovation

Lesson Plan Recommendations Using the Common Core Standards for Early and Middle-Level Readers

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:


Analyze how visual and multimedia elements contribute to the meaning, tone, or beauty of a text (e.g., graphic novel, multimedia presentation of fiction, folktale, myth, poem).

*  The number(s) referenced above corresponds to the number used by the Common Core Standards (www.corestandards.com

Lesson Plan

Before students read Green Lantern Legacy give them a copy of the graphic organizer below. “The Visual & Textual Story Graphic Organizer” will help students not only comprehend the story from beginning to end start, but also document the key textual and visual elements of story that that most significantly helped them to understand the story.

Directions: In order to demonstrate comprehension of the visual and textual literacies in Green Lantern Legacy, ask students to keep a running record of the key visual elements of story and the key textual elements of story. Students must record at least:

  • 3 textual and 3 visual moments from the beginning of the story
  • 5 textual and 5 visual elements from the middle of the story, and
  • 3 textual and 3 visual elements from the end of the story.
Beginning of Story
3 Key Visual Moments 3 Key Textual Moments





















Middle of Story
5 Key Visual Moments 5 Key Textual Moments




































End of Story

3 Key Visual Moments 3 Key Textual Moments 




















Dr. Katie Monnin is the author of eight books about teaching pop culture, comic books, and graphic novels in 21st century classrooms. Since 2010 she has written two monthly reviews and two corresponding lesson plans for her Diamond Bookshelf column: "Katie's Korner: Graphic Novel Reviews for Schools & Libraries." In 2018, Dr. Monnin founded "Why so serious? Productions," a consulting business that creates pedagogical materials for 21st century teachers, librarians, and publishers who want to teach pop culture. She served on the San Diego Comic Con jury in 2013, and she frequently travels the nation and the world to discuss teaching with pop culture in 21st century classrooms.