Cover of the graphic novel, Thunderous

Thunderous: Utah State Library’s Recording of a Graphic Novel

How do you bring a graphic novel to life for blind and visually impaired library patrons? It’s easy when you have great partners, talented staff members, and a state-of-the-art recording studio.

“Thunderous,” a graphic novel for grades 3-6, is about Aiyana, who is more interested in her social media presence than her Lakota heritage. Pursued by the trickster Raven in the Spirit World, Aiyana is challenged to embrace her Lakota heritage. Written by M.L. Smoker and Natalie Peeterse and recorded in Utah State Library’s recording studio with a full cast of characters, this magical graphic novel is the first to come to life for blind library patrons. 

Bringing the graphic novel to life

“The project was unique because it was a collaboration between multiple agencies,” explains Lisa Nelson, the program manager for Utah State Library Division’s Program for the Blind and Disabled. “The Montana State Library sponsored the author’s trip to record the book at the Utah State Library’s recording studio, and we did the production and post production work on the audio files. Some of the character voices were recorded by our staff, and some were recorded on the Blackfeet Reservation in Browning, Montana.”

A smiling man holds a copy of book

Jason Powers, the audio recording manager at the Utah State Library, is proud of his work on the project. “I would say the most challenging aspect of this project was working with ten voice actors. This, combined with it being the first book that we added sound effects to, made it the most challenging book we have produced here at the Utah State Library,” he explains.

Get involved!

If you’d like to be involved with groundbreaking work like this recording, the Program for the Blind and Disabled is looking for volunteers! Visit their website to learn more about becoming a volunteer book narrator or a book reviewer, editing books and recordings. By volunteering, you can bring the magic of storytelling to Utah State Library’s blind and visually impaired patrons!