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The End Zone
The End Zone
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Reviewed Titles
My First Graphic Novel

The End Zone

by Lori Mortensen
Illustrated by Mary Sullivan

Olivia is fast, strong, and can catch. She loves flag football, but the boys won’t let her play. With a little luck, Olivia might find herself in the end zone.

PublisherStone Arch Books
BrandMy First Graphic Novel
Age Level5-7 Years
Reading LevelGrades K-2
GenreSports Fiction
Trim Size6 x 9
Page Count32



Graphic Novel Reporter - Brigid Alverson

"These attractive early readers, featuring simple sports stories and bright, uncluttered illustrations, are an excellent introduction to both comics and sports for young readers. Each book has a very simple story involving a child who likes a sport: A girl wants to play flag football but the boys won’t let her, until they need an extra player at the last minute. A kickball team faces off with older opponents for the big game. The story is broken into simple sentences, and many of the words are repeated: “They practiced kicking. They practiced catching. They practiced running.” The books give basic information about each sport, in words and in pictures, so even children who are new to sports can enjoy them. The stories reinforce the basic values of sports—do your best, and if you don’t succeed, try again. The characters are average kids who must try hard and who don't always win the game, which is probably a good example or a child who is just starting out in sports. Most of the story is told in text boxes next to the pictures, so the books have a picture-book feel to them. They still read like graphic novels, however, because the stories are broken into panels, with typically one to three panels per page, and some of the panels have word balloons and sound effects, just like other comics. The text describes the action, but the pictures add a little more—when a boy goes out for T-Ball, the text boxes tell the reader that he gets a hat, a jersey, and a bat, but the boy also gets a ball and a glove, which are shown in the pictures and described in word balloons. The words and pictures complement each other well. Each 32-page book has only about 20 pages of story, but there are plenty of extras. The books all start out with a two-page spread explaining how to read graphic novels, and there are several educational features in the back—a glossary, writer and illustrator bios, discussion questions, and writing prompts. And just like big-kid comics, they have ads for the other volumes in the back. The last page gives the URL of FactHound, a kid-friendly information site, and instructs the reader to type in the ISBN of the book to get more information about the subject. I tried this for a few books and the results were disappointing. The site linked to information sites intended for adults (Wikipedia, Family Fun), plus books on ballet, baseball, horse riding, and disc golf (the same four books each time). The fact that this idea was not well-executed, however, shouldn’t detract from the books themselves, which are solid, enjoyable sports stories that beginning readers will be able to master on their own." - Graphic Novel Reporter

February 1, 2010

Back to Books Blog - Nicola Manning

"My FIRST Graphic Novels Stone Arch Books pride themselves in publishing safe graphic novels for young readers. A parent does not need to worry that an objectionable illustration or theme will pop up in a seemingly innocent looking book. My FIRST Graphic Novels is a set of beginning books for Grades K-2, new for 2009, each with a different sport's theme, and the books each feature either a boy or girl as the main character. The first pages show how exactly to read a graphic novel; what order to read the panels and the balloons. These books have a lot of narrative rectangles, a smaller amount of word bubbles and plenty of sound effects. All of the words are written in proper lowercase sentence structure with all-caps reserved for the sound effect words. This is especially appreciated as children often find all-caps more difficult to read and for some reason, comic books and graphic novels are most likely to use an all-cap text throughout. Each book also ends with an about the author and illustrator section, a short glossary of words presented that the child may not be familiar with, a page of Discussion Questions and one of Writing Prompts and a website where kids can go to find more info on the subject at hand. All of the above make these books also very useful in a homeschool or classroom setting. Goalkeeper Goof by Cari Meister. Illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld. RL: 1.4. This book was especially appealing to my soccer playing son. David is great at kicking, dribbling and running but when his turn comes up as goalie he always misses the ball causing the other kids on the team to nickname him "Goalkeeper Goof". The coach gives David some good advice and he finds that he can save the ball when he tries. The book introduces the topics of name-calling, turning the other cheek, and paying attention to the task at hand. The 8yo (a struggling reader) read this book wonderfully with hardly any problem with words. He also enjoyed the story very much being a soccer player himself. As a parent, I found the graphic presentation of the book very accessible to a young reader. The illustrations are also very well done, bright and bold, and the characters are shown as belonging to a variety of ethnic groups. 5/5 The End Zone by Lori Mortensen. Illustrated by Mary Sullivan. (RL: 2.0) With just a slightly higher reading level than the previous book read in this series, this one was a bit harder for the 8yo to read. But the story was so interesting that it kept his interest and enthusiasm. The boys don't let Olivia play flag football with them but one day one of the boys is sick and calls her to take his place. This is her big chance! She takes her place on the team, has a great time and the boys appreciate her as a good player. Neither my son nor I had ever heard of flag football, so we had to wait until Dad came home to ask him and then ds got all the answers he was looking for! The theme that girls can do the same as boys is obvious but it wasn't "in your face" and handled very well. Boys and girls will enjoy this one. My son thoroughly read this with pleasure, and as a struggling reader there is nothing more I can ask for than books at his reading level that hold his almost 9yo interests. 5/5 After this sample of two of Stone Arch Books' graded graphic novels we are very eager to read more of their books and were fortunate enough to have received a box full of 2009 releases in March for review purposes. So watch out for more reviews to come! The complete line of My FIRST Graphic Novel series, newly published in early 2009 are: The Goalkeeper Goof Rah-Rah Ruby The End Zone T-Ball Trouble Lily's Lucky Leotard The Kickball Kids and six more are coming out in August and each will have a vehicle theme from trains to scooters! Highly recommended!" - Back to Books Blog

April 2, 2009

School Library Journal - Sandra Welzenbach

"Each page of these graphic novels contains one to four picture boxes. Illustrations are done in bright basic colors that portray the emotions of the characters. Enough detail is added to make them interesting but not overwhelming. The texts are highlighted in a separate boxes to help readers follow along in sequence. A few bubbles contain more information. In Goalkeeper Goof, David likes to play soccer except for the goalie position because of past mistakes. His turn to play goalie makes him nervous but his determination to keep trying ends in success.In The End Zone, Olivia likes tag football but the boys exclude her because she’s a girl. When one of their players is sick, she fills in and proves she is an asset to the team. Both stories pose a problem with a happy ending that kids will enjoy. Good choices for beginning readers drawn to graphic novels." - School Library Journal

September 1, 2009

Lori Mortensen

Lori Mortensen

Lori Mortensen is a multi-published children’s author who writes fiction and nonfiction on all sorts of subjects. When she’s not plunking away at the keyboard, she enjoys making cheesy bread rolls, gardening, and hanging out with her family at their home in northern California.

Go to the Author’s Page →