Expedition Backyard: Exploring Nature from Country to City (A Graphic Novel)
by Rosemary Mosco; illustrated by Binglin Hu
128 pages; ages 5-9
Random House Graphic, 2022
Mole and Vole are friends, much in the way the Skunk and Badger are friends. Or Frog and Toad. They each have their cozy home and they go off on adventures together.
Vole’s attitude toward adventuring is … well, let’s hear Vole explain: “We could swim across a stream full of hungry fish…. We could climb the tallest tree in the forest and sway with the wind!”
Mole is the sort who carries along a sketchbook and prefers an adventure on the tamer side. “What if we went looking for a Swamp Milkweed flower?” Mole would love to draw one!
So Mole grabs their leaf-bound sketchbook, and the two friends set off. In five chapters, Mole and Vole share adventures in the forest near their homes, inside a house, and in the city… a place they didn’t intend to explore, but ended up there by accident.
What I love about this book: Each page is divided into a few large panels, making it easy to follow the story. Some pages present a single illustration, such as a page from Mole’s sketchbook, and each chapter includes a spread that shows a birds-eye view of their adventure for the day. In the city park, we can follow their route around the trees, see the birds they meet, and even “hear” their calls – via the magic of speech bubbles.
I like that no matter where they are, they find nature to explore. They even go on a night adventure, and meet a whole new cast of friends.
And of course, I love that there is back matter! In this case, it’s hands-on activities, including how to draw Mole and Vole, keeping a nature journal, getting involved in a community garden, and more.
Beyond the Books:
Make a simple nature sketchbook. All you need is paper, cardstock for the cover, a twig (in a pinch a pencil will do), a thick rubber band, and a hole punch. Here's how to do it.
Try your hand at creating your own graphic nature story. Learn how to make a 4-panel comic here. And you can find printable comic sheets here and here.
Rosemary Mosco writes and illustrates the bird and moon science and nature cartoons. Her recent picture books are Flowers Are Pretty Weird! (reviewed here) and Butterflies are Pretty Gross! (reviewed here)
Thanks for dropping by today. On Monday we'll be hanging out at Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other bloggers. It's over at Greg Pattridge's blog, Always in the Middle, so hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copy provided by the publisher.