“What’s most surprising about Fool’s Gold is how cohesive the overall storyline is. English teacher and project overseer Peter Shaw was able to involve such talent as GP Taylor, the writer of fantasy novel Shadowmancer, and former chief editor of 2000AD Alan McKenzie (whose book How to Draw and Sell Comic Strips, incidentally, should be any aspiring comic creator’s first stop), and it shows. Putting together such a project is no mean feat –mainstream publishers such as Marvel and DC often struggle under such lofty ambitions – and that this whopping 192 page volume exists at all is a credit to Mr Shaw and company.
Fool’s Gold is actually the second book by Dearne High, the first being Out of the Shadows: An Anthology of Fantasy Stories. I hope that it’s not the last such project from Dearne High, and that other schools are inspired to follow suit. As someone who has fought adamantly against genre and medium preconceptions, I genuinely believe that a generation of imaginative teenagers is being deterred from reading, and consequently writing, due to insipid and restrictive teaching.”
Carl Doherty www.shelfabuse.com
“It’s not every day that you see a 130-page graphic novel produced by school children but Fool’s Gold is a notable exception. This book has come together through the collective efforts of the pupils and teachers of Dearne High, a Yorkshire school that’s trail-blazing new ways of interacting with its local community and the wider world.
You’ll have to alter your expectations about what a book by children might be like. Featuring a multi-layered story with additional material by a number of professional comic writers, artists, editors, photographers and novelists, this is an extraordinary feat of co-operation, merging real people from the school with local folklore and story telling. A phenomenal achievement.”
Andy Shaw of Grovel: Graphic novel news and reviews
Carousel: The Guide To Children’s Books:
“This graphic novel has been produced by pupils, between the ages 12 and 15, at Dearne High School in Rotherham. It features students, staff and current favourite authors in real situations. A first class production which many mainstream publishing houses would be delighted to have on their list. And a bargain price!”
Blog critic.org (Emm):
“The students have produced and starred in a graphic novel of such astounding quality that it is hard to believe that it was made by children.
Fool’s Gold is a graphic novel about books, learning, history and social responsibility. It is a treasure hunt and ghost story that features the students themselves as the central characters. At its heart, Fool’s Gold is an educational novel but it is far from boring; it is an exciting and interactive journey through history that broaches the main issues that children and young people had to face in the past.
The novel is an absolute gem. Graphic novels have long been considered a less intelligent version of reading for pupils that found real books too hard to follow. The students from The Dearne High have turned this notion on its head as the story-within-a-story tells of the organisation, planning and effort that goes into a collaborative effort such as this. Far beyond the historical and social value of the story, the students are carrying the clear message that this is something that anyone can do…”
It is no small measure of the success of this graphic novel that it has made me want to visit all of the locations that the children from The Dearne High visited and to learn more about the history of that time. The fact that so many well known people volunteered their time to help with this project is impressive and also makes me want to learn more about them and their books.
The description of the graphic novel says that it is a book written by students for students, but the quality is superb and I dare say that parents and other adults will want to read it, too. I’m certainly not giving up my copy!”
The School Librarian Magazine – Rosemary Woodman
First: ‘The Book’
“This substantial graphic novel intersperses text chapters with chapters of strip cartooning and atmospheric digital imagery. Poetry, prose, photography and art are very effectively juxtaposed.”
Second: ‘The Creative Project’
“The story behind the book is an inspiration for secondary pupils, librarians and teachers looking for new ways to express creativity and to extend reading horizons.”
Comics Bulletin – Karyn Pinter
“Fool’s Gold is essentially a literary field trip. What a hell of a school project! I wish I had been able to write a comic for class–it sure beats book reports and standardized tests any day of the week. To be mentored on the project by some big name writers, including Bernard Cornwell, author of the Sharpe series, is also pretty cool. Helping out with the pencilling is Kevin Hopgood–a Marvel artist.
I’m pretty impressed–not just by getting some really cool people to help out with this comic, but by the kids who wrote it. When I say “kids,” I mean kids. The writers are all between 12 and 15 years old, and they’ve put together a graphic novel that is a very valiant effort–a very cool mix between a Harry Potter-esque mystery and paranormal investigation that centres on a mysterious sighting in a school of four ghosts (three sons and their father).
It is remarkable…that a school would give kids a chance like this to publish a comic. I wish any of the schools I attended had given students that option over the same old school newspaper or yearbook.”