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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Excellent Graphic Novel (that you won't be able to use in school)

Siegel, Mark (2012) Sailor Twain: Or the Mermaid in the Hudson  New York:  First Second



This is a very interesting book.  Part historical fiction, part fantasy/fairy tale, it is an extremely engaging story about a troubled riverboat that is sort of haunted by an alluring mermaid.  This story has some interesting echoes of Shakespeare's Hamlet (including a boiler tender named Horatio who is the sole survivor of the destruction of the U.S.S. Elsinore) and other echoes of Huckleberry Finn.  The art is beautiful and otherworldly, the story is full of interesting twists, and Siegel's mastery of the graphic novel form allows the reader to quickly fall into the story.  There are themes here that high school students would enjoy discovering and talking about.

But it will never work in your classroom, so you might as well forget about using it.

Why?

Well, obviously, you can't have an authentic mermaid story without full frontal nudity.  And this isn't from a distance either.  The text is sprinkled with vulgarities.  There are some sexual situations and they are not handled with subtlety. There is no way this one would last for more than three minutes before it would be questioned, challenged, and pulled from the classroom.  And that is too bad, because, although in its current state it is really unworkable for even high school seniors, underneath all that it is a very interesting story.

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