Graphic Novel Review: 5 Worlds (Book One: The Sand Warrior)

It’s nice to see a female hero in the graphic novels for middle school readers. This first book in the 5 World series (which I only found out about through a Scholastic Book order) is a satisfying read on many levels. 5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior is a fast-paced adventure in which our protagonist — Oona Lee — must summon powers she does not know she has in order to start the process to save the worlds.

The story is rather complicated in a summary retelling, but I was not confused during the reading of it (except for all of the odd names of planets and such). While a familiar story arc ensues, I still was rooting for Oona Lee and her friends, and even when I figured out the twist facing her (it has to do with family), I thought the writers (lots of them, apparently) pulled it off quite nicely.

The concept of sand as power, and of how some, like Oona Lee, can summon the sand as magic, and then how that magic can transform a sand dancer into a sand warrior, worked just fine. I appreciated, too, the world building here, and the variety of strange characters — all with important back stories that you can see might unfold in later chapters of the tale.

This book would appeal to girls and boys, in equal measure, and that shows the power of a good graphic novel, where the colorful art matches perfectly with the story on the pages. I’m looking forward to where the story goes from here — there are now five books in the series, I see.

Peace (in magic and sand),

Making A Video Haiku With An AI Collaborator

I saw in my RSS feed that Eric Curtis, whose sharing of technology resources is always fantastic and useful, had mentioned that Canva had just launched a Text-Image AI tool, in which you feed it some words and it generates some images. This image generation feature has become a fairly common feature of AI these days, but I was still curious about how to use it within the platform of Canva (which has a slew of useful design tools and options).

Since this tool is still in beta (I believe), the link is not within the main Canva toolbox quite yet, so this is how you access it:

I grabbed a haiku I had written earlier in the say (off a prompt via Mastodon, with the word “mist” as a key inspiration) and fed it into the Canva tool. Full phrases were less useful than key words, I found, but the images were quite dreamy and evocative (I chose a “painting” setting in the tool).

I played with the Canva video maker tool, weaving the words of the original haiku through the video slides with the AI images, and choosing a piece of music (all within Canva itself) to create the short video poem. I utilized some other design features inside Canva, too, but the images were all AI-generated. It’s still strange to have AI as your creative partner in these things, but it’s interesting, too, to see where AI might offer up useful ideas or not.

To see how it works, read through Eric’s post. It is very detailed and helpful.

Peace (and AI),


One Word Poem: Connect/Ed/Ness

One Word Poem: Connect

I was intrigued by the prompt over at Open Write this weekend for a One-Word Poem. You can see mine above but I was curious how a word becomes a poem or a poem takes on the form of a single word, and whether there was push-back on the notion. What I noticed many of us in Open Write did was add a title to the poem (thereby, sneaking around the one-word rule).

I broke my word into three parts and then made a visual, hoping that the art element would add to the sense of connect/disconnect.

Over on Mastodon, John J. suggested (after remembering a book he once read) that one word poems work best when they are placed artistically on the physical page, so that placement and rotation and other elements play a role in making a single word a poem. I agree.

Learn more about One Word Poems via Poetry Foundation here and here.

Peace (and poems),

You Know You Might Be At The End Of A Social Network When …

Twitter Data

I realized yesterday: I better request a download archive of my Twitter data. So I did. Now I am waiting for the file to come through. I am having flashbacks of Google-Plus and other networks that teetered at the end of the life.

Here’s how to request your data, if you so desire:

Peace (and mourning for what Musk has done),

Book Review: What If? 2

What If? 2 by Randall Munroe

I suggest it’s best to read through Randall Munroe’s latest collection of “serious scientific answers to absurd hypothetical questions” slowly, allowing the questions and the answers, and the funny comic illustrated quips, to settle in with you in his latest book, entitled What If? 2.

The science is deep (he worked for NASA as a roboticist, and he knows his science) but so is the funny, and if you know Munroe’s distinct style from either his XKCD comics or his other books, you know he balances the deep science and math thinking with an incredible array of bizarre ideas, in this case, generated by his readers. (The first What If? book was great, too, as are his other collections.)

The questions from kids here are the best, such as the opener here from a five year old: What would happen if the Solar System was filled with soup? Near the end, another question from a seven year old: How many snowflakes would it take to cover the world in six feet of snow? Munroe answers those questions and dozens more, too, and all are entertaining and interesting and educational.

His writing style and writing voice is something intriguing — he certainly knows his science but his ability to add the comic aside while celebrating the question (for the most part) is very effective. His signature stick people doodles show how far you can go with stick figures, too, and each answer has its collection of small comics that will leave you chuckling while also thinking.

Peace (and questions to ponder),