Thursday, January 28, 2010
So, this is the beginning. Our middle school library has only a couple graphic novels - the Bone series. And these are the ones I chose to begin our collection. I'm not sure what I think or who I expect these to appeal to. I took them home last night and quickly devoured them.
They are very different.
Rapunzel's Revenge modernizes the Rapunzel story to create a sweet, innocent girl with amazing abilities to use her long red hair as a deadly whip thanks to four years trapped in a tree tower. She rescues herself and begins her trek to free her mother from the hands of "Mother Gothel" the evil woman how pretended to be Rapunzel's mother. She crosses paths with Jack the Giant Killer and they join together to cross a bleak western expanse of outlaws, starving citizens and Mother Gothel's reach. There is action, a little romance and twists of fairy tales woven into this comic format.
Storm in the Barnis another Jack story - but completely different than Rapunzel's fairy tale world. This is set in 1937 in the midst of the Kansas dust bowl. Jack's sister is slowly dying of Dust Pneumonia, his father is depressed and angry and Jack is picked on by the local town bullies. In his inability to stand-up to anyone or anything he escapes to a very mysterious barn. Periodically the barn flashes with lightning - the lightning that will not show itself across the prairie. Jack reaches a breaking point and stands up to the stranger in the barn, the stranger who holds the power to change the world. This is world illustrated by the grays and browns of the dust bowl - the comic book layout and sparse text add to this atmosphere.
Then there is David Almond's The Savage. This is a completely different story. Blue Baker is working through his father's death by writing a story about a savage who lives alone on the edges of the civilized world and is free to allow his emotions to rule him. As Blue creates the story he includes parts of his own world: Hopper, the bully who constantly taunts him, and his little sister, Jess. The Savage interacts withnthese characters as an observer - yet in the end it is the actual contact of the Savage that changes Blue and his family forever. David McKean's illustrations of dark ink against washes of blue and green bring a memorable savage to life. But, who really is the savage and how in the world does it....
I'm not going to tell you...just read it. And the others too. I'd love to hear what you think!