This amusing book, Kanani K. M. Lee and Adam Wallenta’s The Incredible Plate Tectonics Comic: The Adventures of Geo, Vol. 1, is brought to us by the same people as the Survive! Inside the Human Body graphic novel series. As a result it has many of the same strengths but it also suffered from some of the weaknesses that the Survive! series was able to avoid.
The strengths are easy to see: engaging and diverse characters, clear and clean artwork, lively narration and great attention to scientific detail outside the main narrative. The weaknesses of the Plate Techtonics version which should have been easy to avoid given the previous example but weren’t include some jumbled flash forward/flashback story telling and an over-reliance on infodump exposition rather than putting the story first and making the science serve the story.
The framing narrative is a day in the life of a boy, Geo, who’s on his way to school for a science quiz. He’s a daydreamer, of course, and imagines himself a kind of geology superhero who saves the day amid various “disasters.” Which is great fun, of course, and perhaps putting the super-heroics — real or imagined — more front and centre and less recalling of the information on his immanent exam would have been better. Like the Survive! series, the recap of all the science at the end of the book is very handy as students using the book to prepare for their own exam don’t have to try and find the relevant bits mixed in with the rest. The best part of the science at the end were the “What Do Geologists Do” and Geology Activities sections. Perhaps that’s an avenue to be explored in later volumes.
Overall this series shows great potential and I hope the authors and publisher can work out the kinks and we can see many more exciting volumes in the series.
I would recommend this book for elementary and middle school libraries as well as children’s collections at public libraries. Academic education libraries might find it useful for their teacher training support collections. As well, it would probably make a nice gift for the geo-happy kid in your life.
Lee, Kanani K. M. and Adam Wallenta. The Incredible Plate Tectonics Comic: The Adventures of Geo, Vol. 1. San Francisco: No Starch Press, 2014. 40pp. ISBN-13: 978-1593275495
Other science graphic novels and illustrated books I have reviewed:
- Climate Changed: A Personal Journey through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni
- Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey by Nick Bertozzi
- It’s Catching: The Infectious World of Germs and Microbes by Jennifer Gardy and Josh Holinaty
- Darwin: A Graphic Biography and Mind Afire: The Visions of Tesla
- Survive! Inside the Human Body graphic novel series
- How to fake a moon landing: Exposing the myths of science denial by Darryl Cunningham
- On a beam of light: A story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne and Vladimir Radunsky
- Primates: The fearless science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks
- The Boy who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdős by Deborah Heiligman and LeUyen Pham
- Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm
- Feynman by Jim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick
- The Stuff of Life: A Graphic Guide to Genetics and DNA by Mark Schultz, Zander Cannon and Kevin Cannon
- Evolution: The story of life on Earth by Jay Hosler, Kevin Cannon and Zander Cannon
- Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth by Apostolos Doxiadis, Christos H. Papadimitriou, Alecos Papdatos and Annie Di Donna