Looking for a colorful graphic novel for kids who are about to enter middle school? Give The Knights of the Lunch Table by Frank Cammuso a try!
Artie King really wanted to have a good first day at Camelot Middle School, but things went south quickly. He accidentally tripped the principal. He bumped into some bullies. Gulp. Luckily, he soon befriends two other boys, Percy and Wayne, and finds a mentor in the cool science teacher, Mr. Merlyn.
Though this series tips its hat to the Arthurian legends, it is not myth-heavy, so it's easy to recommend Knights of the Lunch Table to kids whether or not they like fantasy stories. Even if they aren't familiar with King Arthur, they will definitely be familiar with the social hierarchy of middle school as well as the simple delights (and pitfalls) of childhood and tweendom. There are the adults who guide the kids (Mr. Merlyn, of course, plus the school janitor) and there are the adults who scare the kids. In addition to the legendary advice, each book also has a healthy does of competition: the first book has a dodgeball tournament; the second, a school fair; the third, an epic Battle of the Bands...and lots of Rock, Paper, Scissors!
Kudos to Cammuso for creating a diverse cast. The characters are different races, heights, weights, and body types. They have different temperaments, strengths, and skills. While reading the books, I very quickly and very easily assigned each character a different voice in my head, just as I always do - and were these graphic novels to make the jump to animated TV series or film, I'd be first in line to audition for the role/voice of Melody.
Here's a rundown of the series so far:
#1: The Dodgeball Chronicles
#2: The Dragon Players
#3: The Battling Bands
The Knights of the Lunch Table series is published by Scholastic, under their awesome Graphix imprint. Every page boasts full-color artwork. Story and artwork by Frank Cammuso. Book design by Phil Falco. Lettering by John Green.