Hi, Trisha Shaskan!
Trisha: Three words: Hi, Mr. Schu!
Hi, Stephen Shaskan!
Stephen: Hi, John! It’s so great to be back at Watch, Connect, Read!
Thank you for celebrating Q & Ray Case #1: The Missing Mola Lisa’s book trailer with me. Who is Mola Lisa?
Trisha: Thank you for having us! The Mola Lisa is based on the famous painting the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, but the mole-version because this graphic novel contains all forest critters. I chose to write about this painting because when I was in college I saw the Mona Lisa. Twenty years later, I remember her gaze!
What planted the seed for this new graphic novel series?
Trisha: Stephen and I both enjoy mysteries and the kids we know enjoy them, too, so we decided to create one. The names of the main characters Q & Ray are a riff on Q & A (questions and answers), the basis for all mysteries. I’m also big fan of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Like most mysteries, ours is derivative of Sherlock. Q wears disguises. Ray studies topics that inform the mystery. After exploring our characters and figuring out the story, we thought about which format it might take.
Stephen: I always loved the combination of art and story, whether it was picture books, comic books, or cartoons. I grew up with all of these things influencing my art. I was never a strong reader and would have been considered a reluctant reader, but between the ages of 8 and 12, I read about 1000 comic books.
Trisha: Like the comics Stephen read, I found graphic novels or heavily illustrated chapter books were a great gateway to reading for my nephews and the elementary students I worked with. As a literacy coach, I noticed the younger elementary students wanted to read, but couldn’t read many of the popular graphic novels. I decided to create a graphic novel for those students. Q & Ray features two second-grade sleuths, is broken into short chapters, and is comparable to an early chapter book such as Nate the Great or Cam Jensen. Q & Ray is Stephen and my invitation to young readers.
Stephen: My first comics were super hero comics (Marvel and DC) and a lot of Harvey comics like Casper the Friendly Ghost. The Harvey comics really inspired my art in the Q & Ray series.
Thank you for including a school librarian in The Missing Mola Lisa. What is Mr. Shrew’s favorite thing about being a school librarian?
Trisha: Thank you! We were inspired by you to include this school librarian! Mr. Shrew’s favorite thing about being a school librarian is the students --especially Q & Ray! Mr. Shrew enjoys connecting with the students by matching them with the perfect book.
Thank you! :)
Please finish these sentence starters:
Stephen: Graphic novels for young readers are another combination of artful storytelling that engages children in literacy and visual literacy.
As an artist of picture books, these graphic novels were a huge challenge. A picture book has between 12 and 32 images, but the first Q & Ray book had hundreds of panels telling the story. I had to draw the characters Q and Ray both over a hundred times. In the end, the challenge was totally worth it. I love seeing my art in graphic-novel form.
Mr. Schu, you should have asked us…
Since this is case #1, are there more books in this series and when do they come out?
Stephen: Yes! I’m so glad you asked! There are two more books coming out in the next year. Case #2: The Meteorite or Meteor-Wrong! comes out in Spring, 2018. Case #3: Foul Play at Elm Tree Park comes out in Fall, 2018. I’m just starting finished art on the third. Creating these books has been an amazing learning experience for Trisha and me. We’ve both really developed a better understanding of storytelling in the graphic novel form.
Trisha and Stephen: Thanks for having us at Watch, Connect, Read! And thank you so much for all the work you do connecting kids with books!
Borrow The Missing Mola Lisa from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops.