Weaving a Graphic Novel Into a Traditional Text

I’m an author, a reader, a counselor (in a school setting), and a mom. I learn so much by watching (and reading) the books my kids pick up. My two middle boys beeline it to anything with illustrations. Based on what I’m seeing in kidlit circles and school classrooms, they’re not alone. Graphic novels and illustrated novels have huge appeal amongst this generation of readers.

Interestingly, my oldest son was a new reader before this wave of graphic novels really surged. So as a middle grade reader, his book choices were often traditional text. I wondered if there was a way to write a novel with traditional text, but that incorporated a graphic novel thread. My hope was to increase appeal to additional readers.

operation frog effect cover from amazon

My character, Blake, arose from this thought. He’s a unique learner, a bright student, talented artist, but a student for whom the traditional classroom environment is sometimes challenging. There are so many types of learners in today’s classrooms. I’m impressed by the skill I see in teachers who find a way to reach a variety of different learning styles. I wanted a forum to weave this skill into my storyline.

Having Blake illustrate his entries brings a new element to the storytelling process. The brilliant illustrator, Gina Perry, was able to convey a range of emotions and themes through her artwork. See below for an example.

Eviction Notice-- Gina Perry's illustration from OPERATION FROG EFFECT.jpg
Art by Gina Perry

The emotions speak volumes. I hope this additional modality of story sharing can reach more readers, and that some readers can use Blake’s storyline as a window (for some) and a mirror (for others).

Wicked Witch-- Gina Perry's Illustration from Operation Frog Effect.jpg
Art by Gina Perry

I’m a huge fan of illustrations and their power on the reader. I sit in awe and wonder, because my pencil doesn’t do that. I’m indebted to the skill, time and heart that illustrator Gina Perry put into her work for this project. It’s . . . Frog-tastic! And she’s pretty Frog-tastic too!



Sarah Scheerger is a school-based counselor in Southern California, helping students figure out who they are, and who they want to be. Her middle grade debut, Operation Frog Effect (Penguin Random House) releases in February but is available for pre-order now. Keep an eye out for her new picture book, “Mitzvah Pizza” (Kar-Ben) which launches in April. In addition to MG and PB’s, Sarah also writes YA. To learn more, visit www.sarahlynnbooks.com.


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