Nothing makes me more professionally excited than getting new reading material for my classroom. I sorta have an addiction of getting every CI-friendly source of reading I can get my hands on. (Hi. My name is John. I can’t stop buying novels for my classroom….)
I love CI novels, level-appropriate authentic books, magazines, and newspapers, student-created stories, and graphic novels. Excellent graphic novels have the distinct appeal of: 1) great L2 input combined with 2) attractive visuals that hook the reader and add a new comprehensible layer to the reading process. Jim Wooldridge’s new graphic novel, Me llamo Víctor is the perfect example of this blend of media.
“Me llamo Víctor” tells the prequel story of the protagonist from the amazing Víctor trilogy of songs/videos/stories (Guapo, La confesión de Víctor, and Feo) by Señor Wooly. We meet the young Víctor long before he gained his distinct swagger and over-the-top personalidad. (Ja!)
I won’t spoiler the wonderful plot of this book, but I will make some observations that I think will convince you that it is a worthwhile addition to your classroom library or as a whole class novel.
First, the amazing illustrations! Juan Carlos Pinilla’s distinctive style is at the forefront of this book’s attraction. He has a fun, quirky style that will appeal to both younger readers as well as high school and up. Combine this with the coloring of Davi Comodo and the lettering skills of Lucas Gattoni and you have an excellent example of a modern graphic novel. But that is just the beginning. Many Spanish-language graphic novels are artistically appealing, but lack the understanding of basic comprehensible input tenents. Mainly, that the language should shelter vocabulary but not grammar, and the story should be compelling. Jim Wooldridge accomplishes both of these with his trademark humor and amazing storytelling.
Jim manages to create a story that is hilarious, mysterious, and tinged with a bit of sadness at the same time. We see all of the challenges Víctor is facing and we are rooting for him. But like many prequels, we know where his success is going to lead. Jim does a wonderful job of adding new storylines to a tale we thought we already knew. He creates a sense of drama that makes us anxious to find out how Víctor becomes the Víctor we have all come to love/hate. And this leads me to the book’s main flaw: IT IS ONLY PART 1 OF 2! We have to wait until early 2020 for the conclusion of the prequel!
Well, I SUPPOSE I can be patient (but I don’t want to). The only reprieve I have is that I can continue to scour the novel for all of the wonderful callbacks to other Señor Wooly materials! There are sooooo many “easter eggs” to be found in the illustrations and dialogue. Teachers that use Jim’s many songs and graphic novels will love all the repetition of words and phrases that connect this novel to his previous works. Fans of Señor Wooly will recognize phrases like: “maestro del año,” “¿me reconoces?,” “octavo,” “es la verdad,” “es buena para,” “la clase empieza en __ minutos,” “desordenada,” “no tiene sentido,” “no te rindas,” and of course, “muy, muy, muy, muy, muy, muy guapo.” The appearance of clowns in lockers, heart backpacks, and meeting more of Víctor’s family all add to the connections in the Woolyverse (don’t get me started on the Wooly conspiracies).
This book is perfect for die-hard Wooly fans and those new to the wonderful world of Wooly. I would HIGHLY recommend this for novice-high students and above for FVR/SSR time. It could easily be comprehensible for novice-mid students as a whole class novel. No matter how you use it, this is a win-win addition to your classroom. The book is currently in pre-order with shipments expected to go out later this October. I will for sure be ordering more copies soon!!!
So to sum it all up: ¡Esta novela es muy, muy, muy, muy, muy, muy buena! Es excelente. ¡Completamente excelente! ¡Rechazo la idea de perder este libro!