My kids all seem to have the ability to focus intently on one task, even in the midst of a crowded room. Perhaps it's a survival instinct, nurtured by growing up in a chaotic noisy household. Recently, I've noticed that my youngest son, With-a-Why, in the midst of the living room full of kids playing poker and blackjack or jamming on their guitars, has been working intently on a folder full of papers, drawing and writing something. And he keeps asking for newly sharpened pencils.
The other day, he asked me, "Want to see my graphic novel?"
A graphic novel? I was curious to see what this would be.
Then he showed me his sheaf of papers. We went through each one by one. He had divided most of the pages into grids, and each little box contained an illustration. In some cases, for emphasis, he used the whole page.
The drawings were simple stick figures, but the novel had a complicated plot that seemed to have its basis in Greek mythology. The narrative was suspenseful, with a new conflict presented just about every new page. The dialogue, suspended in ovals above the stick figures, not only helped the plot progress but served to develop the characters of the stick figures, who seemed to have both distinct personalities and distinct supernatural powers.
I was impressed. With-a-Why seemed pleased with my reaction, giving me one of his rare smiles before he sat down to work on the novel some more.
Later I said to my daughter, "Hey, did you see With-a-Why’s graphic novel?"
She nodded. "Yeah, isn’t it cool?"
Then she laughed. "I told him to call it a graphic novel. I figured that no one would take him seriously if he said he was making a comic book."