I'm reviewing a graphic novel every Tuesday in November. Check out the other reviews here.
Frank Cammuso's The Knights of the Lunch Table is a series that my students will wear down to nubs. I am so thrilled to have stumbled upon them because I can already imagine how they will look in a few months: pages falling out, scuffed edges, and full of other proofs of love. These graphic novels are a clever take on the tale of King Arthur, complete with a castle-shaped middle school, a locker that can only be opened by our hero Artie, and a science teacher named Mr. Merlin. What's best is that the allusions are not forced upon readers; if they don't get the references, they will still love the story. Plus, building background knowledge of the basic plot and characters of a classic is always useful.
In The Dodgeball Chronicles, when Artie transfers to Camelot Middle School, he instantly makes enemies of a group of bullies called "The Horde". Fortunately, he also makes a few tight friends (hooray for casual diversity!) and decide that the best way to resolve their conflicts is with a dodgeball match. Of course. There is a lot of action and laughs for readers with shorter attention spans.
Cammuso's illustrations are attractive and the lettering and layout are easy to follow. I was frequently reminded of the Bone series in the best possible way; those books are constantly being replaced because they are worn out or "lost". Personally, I found The Dodgeball Chronicles to be much smarter and funnier than the Bone series. Let's celebrate another excellent series of graphic novels for middle school students!