When Words and Pictures Unite to Tell a Story

When I consider magic tricks for my repertoire, I look to include tricks that engage in more than one way. For example, my cups and balls routine tells a story, allowing me to combine a suspense and mystery with the magic and make for a more memorable experience.

We can do the same in stories. We all know the power of combing words and pictures in picture books. This month, let’s take a look at three books (that aren’t picture books) but use words and pictures to tell compelling stories.

Nimona, the National Book Award Finalist written and illustrated by Noelle Stevenson, is a graphic novel that tells the story of a young girl name Nimona, who joins forces with a master villain to bring chaos to the kingdom. Based on Noelle’s award-winning web comic, Nimona is an engaging and emotional story with multiple plot lines.

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As Nimona works to find her place in a world that’s not quite ready for a shapeshifter, supervillain Lord Blackheart works to figure out his complicated relationship with his one-time best friend, Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin. As Blackheart’s plot advances, he and Nimona become aware that something is not quite right in the kingdom and take steps to set things right.

Nimona, will draw you in from the first pages and hold you until the very last. If you’re looking for a graphic novel that covers action, relationships, and emotions, check this one out.

Not every book that combines prose and pictures is a graphic novel. Some straddle the line. “Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies”, written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by Dan Santat, does just that. Combining prose with illustrations and comic panels, the books is a treat to read.

Kevin and Joules Rockman are dropped off at summer camp and they have no idea what awaits them. What they certainly aren’t expecting is evil bunnies from another galaxy attacking the camp and attempting to take over the world. Luckily for them, and for the world, Kevin and Joules have learned a lot about dealing with these sorts of problems from one of their favorite tv programs: The Late, Late, Late Creepy Show for Insomniacs.

Combining Andrea’s hilarious story and Dan’s even more hilarious illustrations, this book is a fun read that will keep you turning the page until it’s done. If you’re looking for a creative way to combine text and pictures, check out “Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies”.

Chapter Books are my favorite books to write (and read). One of the things I enjoy most are the illustrations which help bring the characters to life. One of the newest additions to my library is “The Amazing Life of Azaleah Lane”. Written by Nikki Shannon Smith and illustrated by Mari Lobo and Gloria Felix, this book is one of my new favorites. Azaleah Lane is a young black girl living in Washington D.C. with her mother, father, and two sisters. When her younger sister loses her favorite stuffed toy, Azaleah springs into action to help find it.

I love mystery stories, and this is a good one. Azaleah must race against time to solve the mystery because she has a project of her own to complete, a diorama for school. As time ticks away, the stakes increase and Azaleah’s patience decreases. The tension keeps you turning the page to figure out what, exactly, happened.

Mari and Gloria have done an excellent job with the illustrations which give life to Azaleah and her family and convey the emotions of the characters and draw the reader even deeper into the story.

“The Amazing Life of Azaleah Lane” should be in every chapter book author’s library as a great example of an engaging story combined with wonderful illustrations.

Well, that’s all for now. Happy writing (and illustrating) and have a magical month.