Catching up with Matthew Daley and Trevor Crafts at WonderCon, I got to hear firsthand about their summer release, The Not-So Secret Society that’s geared toward opening up comics to younger readers in a way that brings action and adventure to kids while providing support for educators who might like to incorporate the reading experience into the classroom. The comic is drawn by Wook Jin Clark.
The “multi-platform graphic novel” is built on the combined 25 years of experience in education by Matthew Daley and Arlene Daley, and also consists of a series of free, weekly mini-comics and activities at www.teamNS3.com which are already available ahead of the summer OGN. You may have seen some of these one-pagers appearing in print in the backs of recent KaBoom books like Brave Chef Briana, Adventure Time, and more. The project was created by Matthew Daley, Arlene Daley, Trevor Crafts, and Ellen Crafts.
One of the things that sets this project apart is that it combines educational aspects of science with fantasy and imagination, as well as focusing on world-reflecting diversity in its characters. Matthew Daley says, “We set out to write a book that celebrates a spirit of adventure, the boundless possibilities of science and imagination, and inclusion—things that are more important than ever”.
The educational aspect of the comic meant creating “targeted resources” for teachers and librarians, including lesson plans keyed into the common core curriculum. Arlene Daley, particularly, sees this as a way of supporting educators as the “unsung heroes of childhood development.”
At WonderCon, The Not-So Secret Society panel was an introduction to the book and online components, but it was also an active workshop for kids. Handouts the participants were given were full-color, consisting of one-page comics, followed by “mini-activities” that enabled them to draw comic versions of themselves alongside characters in the book, sketching inventions, recommending books they loved to the characters to read, and drawing scenes from the book that happen off-panel. Running through these activities, you’ll notice that they are bringing kids into the world of creating comics and participating in a demonstrable way in their reading experience, which sounds like a good move for the comics medium as well as for education and literacy.
Here’s the official description of the story in The Not-So Secret Society:
Madison, Dylan, Emma, Aidan, and Ava have pretty normal lives for a group of twelve-year olds: they go to school, participate in extracurricular activities, and, oh yeah, they also have AWESOME ADVENTURES. Together they form The Not–So Secret Society (also known as NS3). But when they invent a candy-making machine for their school’s annual science fair, things don’t go according to plan . . . and their candy creation comes to life and escapes, threatening to destroy the entire city!
For more on The Not–So Secret Society, check out www.teamNS3.com for the first chapter of the free, weekly mini comics plus a printable NS3 activity and more.
This project has been created by the Macrocosm team, who have also brought us Lantern City from Boom! Studios. For further information on Macrocosm can be found at www.macrocosm.tv.
The graphic novel The Not-So Secret Society graphic novel arrives July 26th, but online content is already live.