Yolen, Jane. (2010) Foiled. New York: First Second.
Here is why: Hope Larson totally gets this book. The adaptation is true to the spirit of the original story. All the stuff that matters so deeply to me is here: Charles Wallace's wonderful oddness; the mystery of the old ladies; the delightfully automatic growth of Meg and Calvin's relationship; the movement of the story and the argument against sameness and conformity that was so important to me as a child; and finally, the importance of faith and the distinctions between working for light and working for darkness with the listing of religious figures lining up behind the light.
And the truth is that I got a little choked up (in a profoundly manly way) around pages 350 to 360 when Meg's father says goodbye to her, before she faces It.
Oh, that's right. Some of you don't know what the story is about. Okay, brief synopsis: Meg's father was working on a top secret government project when he disappeared. Meg and her brother Charles Wallace and their new friend Calvin are recruited by some rather odd old ladies to travel across the dimensions to rescue their father from a horrendous evil that enslaves entire societies. Along the way they meet people who help them, but in the end it is the tree of them that must challenge the mind that is behind it all.
The graphic novel retains every element of the plot, but does more than that too. When I recently reread Wrinkle in Time in the original text-only version, I was struck by how sparse the description was. It is hard for even a highly imaginative young reader to picture the characters, the settings, and especially the other worlds in this novel. Hope Larson helps me to see it -- and though her picture don't always match up with mine -- they don't jar with mine either. Like I said, Larsen gets this book.
So if you loved Wrinkle in Time as a child, and are trying to figure out how to get a fourth grader or older kid hooked on L'Engle's work, check out this adaptation. It is a thick one at 392 pages -- but it reads fast. Good stuff!
O’Connor, George (2010) Athena: Grey-eved Goddess. New York: First Second. Excellent book. The Fates narrate. Focus is Athena, but that includes the story of her birth and the stories of Medusa, Perseus, and Arachne.
Four reasons why you should pick up this graphic novel:
1. It tells the whole story. The classic movie, The Miracle Worker tells the story of the saintly patient Annie Sullivan and how she helped the spoiled and wild, deaf and blind Helen Keller to learn to communicate with and understand the world. It doesn't however, tell the rest of the story -- about the neglect and poverty of Annie's early life, about the fame that followed Annie's work with Helen, about how that fame made life difficult for both of them and about the bizarre and unresolved accusations of plagiarism. It is a fascinating story.
2: The story of a deaf and blind girl is remarkably well suited to the graphic novel format. Lambert uses drawings to allow the reader to imagine the world from Helen's perspective. The love of her mother appears as disembodied arms in a field of blackness. When Helen begins to learn sign language, more and more of the picture starts to fill in with words standing for objects. It is remarkable.
3. The story is told in such a way that it provokes powerful emotions. We feel Annie's frustration, but also her achievements, and we can understand more fully why Helen is such a brat. The text and images not only bring us inside the characters' heads through the different point of views conveyed through the text, but the images allows us to get inside the characters' hearts at times too.
Although this book does not have quite the same emotional climax of the movie (the water pumping scene), we feel the joy of discovering language even more powerfully here, over several panels and pages. Check it out. It is a good book.
Kibuishi, Kazu (2008) Amulet: The Stonekeeper New York: Graphix. Good adventure story. Nice drawing. Persistent theme seems to be the difficulty of determining who to trust.
This book is the second in a series, and as such it may be a little tough to pick up in the middle. So the short version of book one is that Emily has inherited this magic stone, and she and her brother Navin have been transported, along with their sick mother, to a fantasy land where theirr companions, including a couple of robots and a pink rabbit are helping them in hopes that Emily, as stone keeper, will save their world. Also, they live in a giant walking house.
I know that sounds silly, but actually, it is honking cool.
Anyway, in volume two, they have to escape a pack of evil elves, aid some powerful but benevolent trees, rescue their mom, defeat the elf king, and master the magic stone without letting it take over.
I know that sounds silly too.
But here is the thing, a graphic novel is a combination of words and pictures, and these pictures are awesome. Third graders through seventh grade3rs are going to love this book. It is fun and funny and sometimes gripping.
This is not the sort of graphic novel with themes in it that will stretch your consciousness or change your life. But it isn't lightweight either. It treats the reader as if he or she is intelligent and perceptive. Good stuff.
Robinson, J., P. Smith, et al. (2002). Leave it to Chance: Trick or Treat and Other Stories. Orange, California, Image.
Smith, J. (2006). Bone (series). New York, Scholastic. Excellent for about 4th through 7th.
Yolen, Jane. (2013) Curses Foiled Again New York: First Second. It completes the story begun in Foiled. Aliera Carstairs is a high school student who works hard, likes to read, and is passionate about fencing (sword fighting, not chain link and picket fences). She has been taking lesson for years and is very good with a foil. In the first book her mom was at a garage sale and bought her a fencing foil with a red jewel at the end of the hilt. It turned out that the foil was enchanted and allowed her to see the faerie world all around her. This led to some odd and otherworldly experiences and the discovery that her lab partner was a troll. Now in the second book, we are drawn into the real conflict -- a save-the-world-from-utter-destruction kind of thing with plenty of close calls, plot twists, narrow escapes, and surprising revelations. Good stuff. Mike Cavallaro's illustrations are exciting and engaging. The use of color to indicate the separation between the mundane wold and the faerie one is well handled. The facial expressions are particularly well-rendered.
Hatke, Ben (2010) Zita the SpaceGirl New York: First Second. Absolutely excellent. Great story. Themes of friendship and loyalty and courage and responsibility, etc.