Tag Archives: ellen crafts

An Educator’s Take on The Not-So Secret Society

Matthew and Arlene Daley’s The Not-So Secret Society is the next in a long line of comics made for and by educators with the explicit purpose of classroom use – a line that often varies in its quality and content, but generally has its heart in the right place.

As both an educator and an advocate for the intellectual and academic merit of the Comics medium, I’m firmly in the middleground of excited and tentative when a new educator-based comic is announced. Where content is concerned, I’ve seen more than a few well-intentioned educators more or less butcher the medium through fundamental misunderstandings of how comic books function, resulting in little more than an illustrated textbook; where tone is concerned, I’ve been disappointed more than once with a sanctimonious, pedantic tone struck toward a reading audience that we teachers know – we know – responds best to guidance when it comes from a place of mutual respect and openness.

Thankfully, The Not-So Secret Society appears to avoid both of these issues.  Billed as “an all-ages adventure that celebrates the value of teamwork and lifelong friendships”, the Not-So Secret Society follows the misadventures of a group of friends whose science fair project, a candy-making machine, inadvertently unleashes more than they bargained for on their city. The preview copy I had the chance to read promises a straightforward and accessible all-ages romp without a trace of condescension. Characterization of each of the main characters is clearly defined, if a little cut and dry, and follows the “stock school clique” format you’ve seen before – which, given the target audience, isn’t surprising nor a negative. The art is easy for young eyes to follow without being so simple as to lose the interest of older readers; there’s plenty of detail in the backgrounds and enough of a Saturday cartoon vibe to evoke memories of Recess, The Weekenders, and other dearly departed early morning classics.

I am curious to see where the co-creators’ education experience will come to pass, as the bit of the issue I was given to sample played very little to overt pedagogy or any kind of explicit subject area content (or, really, anything apart from setting up the story itself), but as far as I am concerned that is a good sign. If the Daleys can take a story about a candy-machine-gone-bad and somehow spin it into a lesson worthy of classroom inclusion, then more power to them.  There’s also the equally-valid notion that the endgame is the focus on “teamwork and lifelong friendships” that the overview promises, which has its place in the classroom but is less in demand as an explicit lesson, especially in the era of truncated instructional minutes and concerns about time, time, time.

Perhaps not surprising is the boost of confidence I feel for this title knowing that it is being published by an imprint of BOOM! Studios. BOOM! has become an easy favorite of mine over the past year for its fearless embracing of that which falls just shy of the traditional comic book reader’s tastes while still maintaining a family-friendly atmosphere. Titles like Adventure Time and Steven Universe come to mind, but also Lumberjanes, The Backstagers, and the masterful Power Rangers reboot all speak highly of a publisher that, while not as flashy as the big guys, certainly knows how to choose its horses in each race.  I may still be on the fence when it comes to the direction that The Not-So Secret Society will lead, but its inclusion alongside such noteworthy titles is worth consideration.

Don’t misunderstand: The Not-So Secret Society is still a young reader’s book. I can see its simplified structure and easygoing narrative style as an excellent fit for a late elementary school classroom, and clever development of the story might even suggest it as a contender for middle school libraries – but beyond that, I think it’s easy to pass on this one unless you’re an educator, mentor, librarian, or otherwise have a vested interest in this work’s intended audience.

The Not-So Secret Society makes for an easy read for the young comic book reader in your life, with its easy visuals, straightforward storytelling, and the publishing power of BOOM! behind it. I’m excited – and hesitant – to see where the Daleys take their candy-coated adventure, and whether it lives up to all that it could be.

BOOM! Announces The Not-So Secret Society Events & Educational Guides

Discover science, candy, and awesome adventure in The Not-So Secret Society, an all-new all-ages graphic novel from BOOM! Studios, available now in comic shops and bookstores everywhere!

The writing team of Matthew Daley and Arlene Daley call on 25 years of combined education experience to create this thrilling coming-of-age adventure featuring five young friends inventing a candy-making machine for their school’s annual science fair…and unintentionally unleashing a colossal candy creation that could destroy the city!

Co-created by Macrocosm’s Trevor Crafts and Ellen Crafts, and illustrated by Wook Jin ClarkThe Not-So Secret Society is an all-ages adventure that celebrates the value of teamwork and lifelong friendships. This original graphic novel is supplemented by parent guides and educator guides (newly expanded to celebrate the release) included in the book and more to be found online.

To support the launch of this original graphic novel, the creators at Macrocosm will appear at a variety of upcoming Not-So Secret Society interactive events including signings, meet and greets, presentations on creating comics, and special gummy bear raffles!

  • Children’s Book World in Los Angeles on Saturday, August 19th from 2:30-3:30pm
  • Barnes & Noble at the Grove in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 9th at 1:00-2:00pm

For more on The Not-So Secret Society check out their website where you can get FREE downloadable activities for kids, parent and educator guides, information on upcoming live events from the creator team, and even listen to the official theme song!

Discover Science, Candy, & Awesome Adventure in The Not-So Secret Society from BOOM! Studios

the-not-so-secret-societyBOOM! Studios has announced The Not-So Secret Society, an all new multi-platform graphic novel experience! The writing team of Matthew Daley and Arlene Daley call on twenty-five years of combined education experience to create this thrilling, coming-of-age adventure which premieres today with free, weekly mini-comics and activities at www.teamNS3.com and arrives in a full-length original graphic novel this summer.

Madison, Dylan, Emma, Aidan, and Ava have pretty normal lives for a group of twelve-year olds: they go to school, participate in extracurricular activities, and, oh yeah, they also have AWESOME ADVENTURES. Together they form The Not-So Secret Society (also known as NS3). But when they invent a candy-making machine for their school’s annual science fair, things don’t go according to plan . . . and their candy creation comes to life and escapes, threatening to destroy the entire city!

With their strong background in education and experience as parents, the creator team behind The Not-So Secret Society have made targeted resources to go with the comic for teachers and librarians. The goal was to support educators, the unsung heroes of childhood development.

Co-created by Macrocosm’s Trevor Craftsand, Ellen Crafts, and illustrated by Wook Jin ClarkThe Not-So Secret Society is an all-ages adventure that celebrates the value of teamwork and lifelong friendships.

This all-new original graphic novel is the latest release from BOOM! Studios’ KaBOOM imprint,

Check out the first chapter for free, weekly mini comics PLUS a printable NS3 activity and more right now!