Sleepless Knight (2015) James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, Alexis-Frederick-Frost
Hardcover, 40 pages
First Second – a division of Macmillan Publishers – offers “graphic novels for children, adults, and everyone in between.” The word “everyone” certainly includes very young readers, the target audience for Sleepless Knight, a collaboration between James Sturm (co-founder of the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont), Andrew Arnold, and Alexis-Frederick-Frost, all of whom have previously worked together on the Adventures in Cartooning series. With Sleepless Knight, the creators have given kids (and their parents) a fun, humor-filled graphic novel picture book.
The Knight decides to venture out from the castle and take her faithful horse Edward on a camping trip. The idea sounds wonderful, but poor Edward is loaded down with enough equipment for a trip around the world. When bedtime arrives, the Knight’s beloved Teddy bear is nowhere to be found, which kicks off the real adventure.
The creators display a bold, kid-friendly art style with lots of opportunities for laughter utilizing mostly three or four panels to a page with larger panels providing moments of impact and/or joke delivery. The characters and settings are clear and easy to follow for young readers/viewers. (Parents reading to very young children will have ample opportunity to practice exuberant exclamations and sound effects, too!)
Sleepless Knight also provides useful lessons such as concern for others, friendship and more. It’s also a book that appeals more to younger readers, who will no doubt want to read/have it read to them over and over. I do wish the creators had given us at least one panel of the Knight without her helmet, showing us visually that girls can be knights too. Still, Sleepless Knight makes for a good bedtime story and also serves as a good introduction to how comics/graphic novels work.