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Mr. Big: A Nature Documentary / Murder Mystery for Your Elementary /Middle School Class

Article by Scott Tingley, March 10, 2007

About a year ago, I wrote this about a small indie comic called Mr. Big:

Are you looking for something different for your students? Having trouble getting them to care about the ecosystem of a pond? Looking for something to spice up your thematic unit on habitat, or for a differentiated learning approach to a nature theme? Mr. Big by Matt Dembicki and Carol Ault Dembicki is a beautifully drawn serialized story that starts out by giving the reader a tour of a pond through the eyes of a giant snapping turtle – this is HIS pond. The second part of the story beautifully shows the pond at night. It further supports the idea of Mr. Big as the boss of the pond. The third part of the story takes a sharp turn. Fish is looking for her children. It turns out that they have been eaten, and Mr. Big is being blamed. She knows that is part of nature's balance, but she doesn't care. Here begins the plot to kill Mr. Big, thus ending his rule over the swamp. This chapter of the story gives a great alternative explanation for how the balance of nature and the food chain works, and how easy it is to upset this delicate balance.

A lot has changed for Mr.Big in the last year. It was a bunch of little books made up of photocopied pages folded and stapled inside a beautiful painted covers. Now it is a collected book professionally put together and wrapped in a not so great cover (sorry guys, I still liked the old ones better). I have only read an electronic copy of the finished product, so I'm not sure about what the book is like physically, but the story is still terrific.

A plan is presented to the crows for them to kill Mr. Big (a clever play on the collective noun “a murder of crows”). They plan to double cross the pond dwellers, but don't get the chance when a new and devastating organism shows up in their home. There is a big battle between the new fish and Mr. Big, and one of the crows goes crazy, and the balance is restored.

I stand by all of my earlier glowing opinions, but I wasn't as happy with the last couple of chapters as I was with the first few. The mad crow bit kind of confused me and I would have liked some explanation at the end by the authors about the how new organisms get introduced into habitats, etc - science bits for the young reader.

This is a book that would be a great asset to a science teacher trying to get her students excited about habitat, ecosystems, etc. And, it would likely be a hit with any kid that is already interested in that kind of stuff. I don't really think that it is quite as good as Clan Apis (another great book in the science comic genre), but still really good.

Issues 1-4 are still on waspcomics.com, and they are also HERE – the Dembicki's let me set it up so you can send your kids / students there without worrying about them clicking on content that might be too old for them.




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