“Mushrooms are often friends with the plants in the forest, helping them and many animals survive. So be gentle and don’t litter. And try not to pick too many mushrooms: leave some for the slugs and squirrels!” — The Mushroom Fan Club, n. pag.
|Creator(s)||Elise Gravel (author)|
|Publisher||Drawn & Quarterly|
|Environmental Themes and Issues||Educational Nature Facts, Anthropomorphism, Conservation, Pollution|
|Protagonist’s Identity||Elise: White female author-narrator|
|Protagonist’s Level of Environmental Agency||Level 2: Low Environmental Agency|
“Would you like to come for a walk with us? I’ll introduce you to some of my mushroom buddies,” Elise Gravel writes in The Mushroom Fan Club (n. pag.). Labeled as a graphic novel by publisher Drawn & Quarterly, this text straddles the line between a comic and a picture book, incorporating comic-esque speech bubbles as well as panel-less illustrations and blocks of text that mimic a picture book format. In the opening pages, narrator Elise invites young readers to accompany her and her daughters on a walk through the woods as she teaches them facts about mushrooms, which she depicts as anthropomorphized creatures with eyes and mouths. Throughout the comic, Elise repeatedly underscores her passion for mushrooms, declaring, “I’m obsessed with bizarre creatures, and mushroom are certainly strange!” (Gravel, n. pag.). She instructs the audience to follow two rules while mushroom hunting: “protect their environment” and “don’t eat them!” (Gravel, n. pag.).
After providing a general overview of mushrooms, Elise introduces readers to eleven different species of mushrooms, including a full-page illustration and facts about each. She includes illustrations of her daughters identifying mushrooms using mushroom guides. Finally, she concludes the narrative by encouraging readers to learn more about mushrooms on their own: “Would you like to find out more about mushrooms? There are many books about fungi where you’ll discover wonders I don’t even know about. Check them out at your local library! And don’t forget to take lots of walks in the woods” (Gravel, n. pag.). This accessible, whimsically illustrated guide teaches young readers about ways to safely study mushrooms, while also promoting care for “bizarre” creatures and respect for their habitats.
The comic includes 5 pages of paratexts that provide additional information about mushrooms and mushroom-hunting. A two-page spread entitled “Mushroom Facts” lists more interesting tidbits about mushrooms. Gravel also includes a list of “Things that happened to me while hunting mushrooms,” such as encounters with wildlife. Finally, “How to Do a Spore Print” has a step-by-step guide to creating a spore print from a mushroom cap.