Sunday, October 15, 2017

Review of Sr. Wooly's "La Casa de la Dentista"

If you are counting the days until you receive your order of Sr. Wooly's graphic novel "La Casa de la Dentista" than you know that the wait is almost over. It's been months since Sr. Wooly leaked information that he was working hard, day and night, (insert mad scientist music and an evil laugh here) on his second graphic novel. It is related to his cult-favorite music video "La Dentista" released in 2011, but it isn't necessary to have seen the video to understand the book. I guarantee you that every minute of that wait will be worth it

I was one of the lucky ones granted the opportunity to read the novel before the official release. I strongly recommend this book for Spanish teachers that are searching for engaging reading materials for their students! I promise you that you are in for a treat, perhaps a little unsettling and disturbing, in true Sr. Wooly fashion (and you know you wouldn't want it any other way). Your students won't know what hit them!

I haven't seen the digital teacher's guide for the book, but I have some advice on how to read this book.

In my opinion, the most important thing to keep in mind is: this book is not meant to merely be read. It is meant to be FELTWhen reading, you have to FEEL...what the characters are feeling; FEEL...their fear; FEEL...the intensity; FEEL...the tension and FEEL...the uncertainty that surrounds them. 

Feel their FEAR. 
How do you do that?  Read it slowly!
That's worth repeating: 
READ it S-L-O-W-L-Y!  

Look at every.single.frame. 
Look in the characters' eyes to sense what they are feeling. 
Look at the intricate details and the coloring of every illustration. 
Don't cheat yourself from fully experiencing this novel. Don't give in to the temptation to read it quickly to see what happens. Don't do it. Don't rush. Take your time. Soak up every detail and every word and get the full effect. Connect to the characters. Put yourself in their shoes. Stare directly at the danger from their viewpoint and FEEL IT!

Seriously, the only thing that can make this great book even better, is how you read it.
The one & only, La Dentista

I currently have one hardbound copy. I'm going to read the book to my students a few days before Halloween, with the use of my document camera, and I'm going to read it to them exactly the same way I read it to myself - slowly and OUT LOUD. When there were illustrations without words, I added sound effects - gasps, breathing, the sound of waves splashing, sighs, footsteps, the buzz from electric lights, background music, and so much more. 

When there was dialogue, I read it OUT LOUD with emotion and in a voice to match the words and the expressions on the character's faces. There's even a part where the teacher sings to her school students, and you know what? I sang those words, making up my own little melody. All those extra sounds and pacing when reading, pulled me deeper into Sr. Wooly's little nightmare of a book.   

Carolina's dad nagging her, again.
You may be itching for some hints about what happens. Unfortunately, I can't help you out with that. I refuse to take any punch away from the story by giving out plot twists. But, if you picked up one of Sr. Wooly's preview editions that he was handing out at summer conferences, then you already know about the first several pages. The story begins with a young girl named Carolina whose parents are constantly nagging her to brush her teeth. The first three pages are illustrations only, no dialogue. You may have to use your imagination for the first few pages, but then the dialogue begins when the family is gathered at breakfast time. If you have an active imagination, you'll almost "hear" the eye-rolling by Carolina and her dad in reaction to the mother's drama. Then there's a phone call and from that point on, you'll be hooked. The story, the artwork, the coloring, and the lettering will reel you in. Don't bother trying to guess what happens, other than expect the unexpected.

I almost envy you because I want to be able to read it again for the FIRST TIME.   
So ENJOY IT! Both YOU and your students, will devour this book in no time! I predict it will be popular with your students for generations to come!

Do you want to hear some cool facts about the collaboration on an international level that went into this graphic novel? The contributors are from five countries on three different continents. Where they reside, their name, and their contributions are:

Illinois, USA: Jim Wooldridge (or Sr. Wooly as many know him) wrote the book
Colombia: Juan Carlos Pinilla illustrated the story  
Brazil: Davi Comodo did the coloring of the illustrations  
Argentina: Lucas Gattoni did the lettering
Spain: Lara Talens edited the book
Check out the artwork & coloring. Superb!

Obviously, Sr. Wooly sought out the best talent which resulted in a masterpiece. As Hunter S. Thompson said, "Anything worth doing is worth doing right" and this graphic novel is done right!

A few extra notes: 
- It is recommended for 6th grade and up.
- It's available as a hardbound book or paperback 
- *A digital teacher guide is available
- It is in pre-order and will ship in November.
- *If you're not sure how to teach a GRAPHIC novel with your students, Sr. Wooly and Carrie Toth made video tutorials on how to teach his first graphic novel "Billy y las Botas". Carrie does an awesome job, but then I may be a bit biased :)
I linked Sr. Wooly's website throughout the blog post. Click on any of the links on the words "Sr. Wooly". 

*I'm sure my plans on how I'm going to read this to my students don't match up with what the teacher guide or the video tutorials suggest, because I am going to read it in ONE class period. It will be a special class period devoted to storytelling and the only thing my students will have to do, is listen to the story.