Skip to main content

Cast Away on the Letter A : A Philemon Adventure by Fred, translated by Richard Kutner, RL: 3

Cast Away on the Letter A by Fred, the pseudonym of Frédéric Aristidès, creator of one of the most famous graphic novel series in France (did you know that the French have long been huge graphic novel fans?) was originally published in 1972. This is the first time it has been translated in English, thanks to the amazing François Mouly and the fantastic people at TOON Books who are dedicated to giving emergent readers quality, high interest books. Last year,  TOON Graphics, a line of graphic novels for kids reading at 3rd grade level and above, was launched and Cast Away on the Letter A is one of the featured titles!

 When we meet Philemon on the first pages of Cast Away on the Letter A, we learn that he is an imaginative teenager who lived on a farm in France back in the 1960s along with Anatole, Phil's trusty friend who is also a donkey, and his grouchy father, Hector. One thing that I LOVE about TOON Books is the love and appreciation that Mouly and her staff have for the graphic novel and how much they want readers to share in this passion. Because Cast Away on the Letter A was written in 1972 it looks different from the graphic novels and illustrations in children's books today and the story moves at a slightly different pace. The "Meet Philemon" introduction and the SUPERB "Visual Glossary and Index," along with the tips for parents, teachers and librarians at the end of the book give context for the story and interesting, valuable information and insights that enrich the reader's experience. 

When the pump on the farm breaks, Hector sends Philemon to the well for water, where he discovers a message in a bottle that reads, "Help! Don't abandon me." Despite Anatole's protests, the goodhearted Philemon decides he has to go down in the well to investigate further. This is when he ends up in another world altogether, a cast away on an island where he meets Bartholomew, the sender of the message in the bottle. Phil discovers that Bartholomew is the well digger of legend from his village who disappeared forty years ago while digging a well. As Philemon tries to acclimate to the strange ways of the island, and Bartholomew, he soon discovers what he is on and where, exactly he is. Phil is a cast away on the letter "A" that spells out the word "Atlantic" on the map! Happily, Philemon finds a way home. Even more happily, his next adventure, The Wild Piano, will be published next year!



Popular posts from this blog

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!


How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers

How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers remains the most read post on my blog since I wrote it in 2012. Because of this, I have cleaned up this post, tightened the writing and added in any pertinent information that has come about since it originally ran. When I first started in August of 2008, I was scrambling for content, finding my purpose and my voice and not always doing my best writing. How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers was one of the first articles I wrote and, as a bookseller and a book reviewer, and now as an elementary school librarian where I have gone from working with kids reading well beyond their grade level to kids reading well below, this philosophy remains my organizing principle and central focus when reading and recommending books to parents and children. 

In the interest of my mission and the attention this article continues to receive, I have updated and expanded this article and included a guide to using …

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…