Mac McCool - Children's Book Illustrations and Graphic Novels

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

How Many Pages Should a Kids Graphic Novel Have? The Reader's P.O.V.

Most films last between 90 minutes to two hours. Perhaps this norm has survived decades and huge cultural and technological changes because one of the constants - how long we can tolerate B.I.C. ("butt in chair") - hasn't!

Now, for kids reading graphic novels, can we define a page count range that would work too? After all, picture books have their own norm: 32-pages.

Because the word "novel" in "graphic novel" implies a rather large page count, adults in the publishing industry have come to expect larger page counts. Some folks even believe 100-pages to be a benchmark for a "real" graphic novel.

But what do kids prefer?

It's easier to keep a child's attention with a shorter page count. In French-speaking Europe, the norm is 44 pages. My memory of such books was that they were just long enough to feel substantial, developed, vivid, yet readable in one sitting.

Contrast that with the children's graphic novels that the pioneering publisher in this field, Scholastic, is releasing. Each volume of Bone and Babysitter's Club exceeds 100 pages. An 8-year old girl reading the second volume of Babysitter's Club told me she could not read it all in one sitting. Now, do you like stop-and-go reading anymore than stop-and-go movie-watching? Do you agree that each reading break puts a chink in the magic of the reading experience? And do you feel that powering our suspense of disbelief become more and more burdensome with each restart? -- And keep in mind we are talking about young readers, not mature folks like you and I who have acquired the discipline and patience to read War and Peace. Right?

Next: the creator's perspective.


Blogger Sara said...

Hey! You've been tagged! What are your summer goals? Here are mine:

6/10/07, 6:06 PM  

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