Friday, November 23, 2018

Reader's Diary #1965- Aron Nels Steinke: Mr. Wolf's Class

What a pleasant surprise I had with Aron Nels Steinke's graphic novel Mr. Wolf's Class.

Some of the surprise, I'll admit, was unwarranted and only due to my guilt for having judged a book by its cover. And there isn't even anything wrong with the cover! The characters reminded me of the quirky kind of cartooning you see in Adventure Time or Rick and Morty and while I don't mind those, I just wasn't in the mood for that sort of comedy. Thankfully, that wasn't a fair assessment at all and the humour here is light and quite sweet and doesn't get in the way of character development or plot.

The other half of the surprise was that it made me nostalgic for teaching. After having taught for about a dozen years, I switched careers to become a librarian. It was time for me to leave that profession and it's a decision I haven't regretted for even one second. Still, it was nice to recall the moments that I did love teaching. While Steinke, thankfully, doesn't get into all the bureaucracy around teaching or the limited resources or unrealistic, often competing and hypocritical expectations, he does however present a very realistic look at the positive aspects of teaching. Even when a student goes missing (the main plot and not as serious as it sounds), there's humour to be found. Plus friendships form and unique personalities are celebrated. I especially liked that Mr. Wolf was given his own idiosyncrasies, nice but not perfect, and shown to have his own life apart from the kids, though sometimes intertwining. The scene of him playing tag with the students was taken straight from my own memories.

The art looks quite simple on the surface, but is actually quite complex and great, illustrating a real knack for close-ups, unique perspectives, and use of panels/ gutters which all aid in telling the story along with the text.

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