Tokyopop has announced two new publishing initiatives aimed at young readers, Manga Chapters, which is targeted at kids from 6-9, and Manga Readers, which is aimed at 8-12 year-olds. Manga Chapters, which is launching in September of 2006 with The Grosse Adventures: The Good, The Bad & the The Gassy by Annie Auerbach and Agent Boo by Alex de Campi, combines chapter books for children who are beginning to read and manga-style illustrations in a 96-page format priced at just $4.99. The simple but engaging storylines (kids love fart jokes) are liberally interspersed with spot illustrations and manga that can boost reading comprehension.
The Manga Readers imprint is designed for mid-grade readers with the books priced at $5.99. The Manga Readers volumes are also 96 pages in length and represent a natural follow-up to the Manga Chapters books.
The first three Manga Readers releases are due out in July. They include Alex de Campi's Kat & Mouse, a tale of two girls who use science and math to solve mysteries; Josh Elder's Mail Order Ninja, the chronicle of a boy and his ninja companion; and Keith Giffen and Shanon Denton's Zapt!, the story of a 12-year-old who has to squeeze in his duties as an intergalactic policeman between homework and chores.
The launching of these two very targeted imprints should find favor with educators and especially with librarians, who are increasingly interested in manga and always cognizant of trying to match the reader with material of the appropriate reading level. The efficacy of manga (and comic books in general) in teaching reading is well documented and these volumes, should they find favor with their intended audience, could go a long way toward stimulating interest in reading and in reading manga (and comics) for pleasure.