How to teach a wordless graphic novel... I did NOT use the animated movie "An American Tail" as I had originally planned, a decision made after previewing the movie. (Note: once upon a time, a wise teacher told me to ALWAYS preview video before using in class. I learned the hard way, of course.) (The movie story was just not on point.) Instead, I gave them a "slog" (journal) writing topic, "Moving Away", as an anticipation guide. That prompted some good discussions on reasons for moving, feelings associated with moving, challenges, etc. This topic is the closest most of my students have experienced with moving. (Amazingly, 2 of my students are immigrants from Bosnia! And a handful of students have lived in the same home their entire lives.)
Chapter 1 is short and fairly straightforward in narrative, so my 8th graders read the chapter silently, and the 6th and 7th graders read it with partners. Then, we discussed plot, potential (created) dialogue, setting, and mood. Since 6th and 8th grade classes are small, I led a whole group discussion in those classes. In the 7th grade classes, I gave each pair of students an index card with a unique literary element (plot, setting, etc.) and instructed them to identify the element in chapter 1 after reading, then the pairs presented their "elements".
Well, I hope that sort of made sense! The art of storytelling through pictures and no written words is ... masterful! Some pages contain a collage of drawings; some collages are pieces of a snapshot, while other collages depict sequence of action. Other pages are panoramic views. I can't explain it any more - you have to find a copy somewhere and READ IT!!!