Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Graphic Novel Mania- a long blustery post!!

Over the weekend I read 3 graphic novels and each one was great on different levels. I've long discounted the graphic novel because I thought it was for TEENS and COMIC BOOK geeks, (like my sons and brother) but last summer I was at Mellymel's blog Lit*Chick and saw this book on her to read list.

The title was Maus I: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History by Art Speigelman. This book absolutely blew me away. Not only was the drawing spectacular, but the story was so compelling, horrific, and one that I needed to finish. In the end, this book moved me more than The Diary of Anne Frank. The pictures brought this story to life within my mind and it really drove home all the terror, horrors endured, and in the end the ability to continue on with life. After I finished that one I immediately requested Maus II: A Survivor's Tale: And Here My Troubles Began. This one was just as superbly written and illustrated like the first. As soon as I started to read, Art's father's voice blossomed in my brain and I could hear his accent. This is a book that I feel high school teachers could do so much with, especially for those students who are reluctant readers and look at The Diary of Anne Frank and see nothing but intimidation by the sheer size of the book. The visual part of the graphic novel is what has sold me. I have ordered a ton of "safe" graphic novels for my middle school library and let me tell you I can't keep them on the shelves!! I love it, because that is exactly what I wanted to happen. Those students who think they don't like to read or have trouble reading, latch on to one of these books and then they take off like rockets!!! I've learned my lesson....graphic novels are a much needed and most welcome addition to my personal reading and to all libraries!!

So here are the 3 books that I enjoyed over the weekend:

Rapunzel's Revenge
by Shannon and Dean Hale
Illustrated by: Nathan Hale

From Goodreads:

Once upon a time, in a land you only think you know, lived a little girl and her mother . . . or the woman she thought was her mother.Every day, when the little girl played in her pretty garden, she grew more curious about what lay on the other side of the garden wall . . . a rather enormous garden wall.And every year, as she grew older, things seemed weirder and weirder, until the day she finally climbed to the top of the wall and looked over into the mines and desert beyond. Newbery Honor-winning author Shannon Hale teams up with husband Dean Hale and brilliant artist Nathan Hale (no relation) to bring readers a swashbuckling and hilarious twist on the classic story as you’ve never seen it before. Watch as Rapunzel and her amazing hair team up with Jack (of beanstalk fame) to gallop around the wild and western landscape, changing lives, righting wrongs, and bringing joy to every soul they encounter.

This book was totally cool!! I loved the whole concept from the very beginning and the colorful pictures totally drew me into Rapunzel's world. She has been kidnapped and taken away from her real mother and a wicked witch Gothel is raising her. When Rapunzel realizes what Gothel has done she is sent away to live inside of a tree. With a lot of ingenuity she manages to escape her prison and meets up with a boy named Jack (yes, from the beanstalk) and together they have adventures and daring encounters as they work their way back to Gothel's land so that she can free her mother. I think a lot of kids would love to have this one read out-loud to them, while the older kids 11-13 would rather read it themselves. I found this great link from Shannon Hale's website about a father and his experience reading this book to his kids. You MUST read it!! click here- Bookie Woogie. If you see this book pick it up and read it...I think you'll like this strong, witty, and wonderful character that Hale has created in Rapunzel!!


Kin (the Good Neighbors, Book One)
by Holly Black
Illustrated by: Ted Naifeh

From Goodreads:
Rue Silver's mother has disappeared . . . and her father has been arrested, suspected of killing her. But it's not as straightforward as that. Because Rue is a faerie, like her mother was. And her father didn't kill her mother -- instead, he broke a promise to Rue's faerie king grandfather, which caused Rue's mother to be flung back to the faerie world. Now Rue must go to save her -- and must also defeat a dark faerie that threatens our very mortal world.

I have read almost all of Holly Black's books and for the most part I've enjoyed them. I've seen mixed thoughts about this graphic novel but when I came across it the other day at the library I figured what did I have to lose?
I wasn't in love with but I didn't hate it either. The illustrations are awesome. Ted is extremely talented and while it was kind of a shock to the system after reading Rapunzel (being so colorfully illustrated) to Kin which is very, very dark, I loved looking at the pictures. At times some of the faces were hard to make out, but I know that it goes to the plot and how she wants you to feel about the characters and the mystery of everything. I wish that she would have developed the characters just a little bit more and not rushed in some parts. For example, at one point Rue finally realizes that she's a fairy or something like it, and without anyone really showing her how or practicing, she can all of a sudden make herself invisible from humans!! I had to stop and re-read because I thought I missed a page! I will read her next ones because I need to find out what will happen to the world as we know it and how these new events will change Rue, for the better or for the worse?

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
written and illustrated by: Alison Bechdel

From Goodreads:

This breakout book by Alison Bechdel takes its place alongside the unnerving, memorable, darkly funny family memoirs of Augusten Burroughs and Mary Karr. It's a father-daughter tale pitch-perfectly illustrated with Bechdel's sweetly gothic drawings and like Marjane Satrapi's Persepolisa story exhilaratingly suited to the graphic memoir form. Meet Alison's father, a historic preservation expert and obsessive restorer of the family's Victorian house, a third-generation funeral home director, a high school English teacher, an icily distant parent, and a closeted homosexual who, as it turns out, is involved with male students and a family babysitter. Through narrative that is alternately heartbreaking and fiercely funny, we are drawn into a daughter's complex yearning for her father. And yet, apart from assigned stints dusting caskets at the family-owned "fun home," as Alison and her brothers call it, the relationship achieves its most intimate expression through the shared code of books. When Alison comes out as homosexual herself in late adolescence, the denouement is swift . . . graphic . . . and redemptive.

All I'm going to say is that this books hit me in the gut, not once, but several times. It touched me on a lot of levels so I will not write any more of my thoughts about it, but instead, share some of my favorite passages.

Passage 1:
( Setting the background for you)
Alison finally gets the courage to tell her parents she's a lesbian. She writes them a letter and then anxiously waits for them to contact her, when they do she can't believe what her mother tells her.

Then a phone call in which she dealt a staggering blow.

"Your father has had affairs. With other men."
I'd been upstaged, demoted from protagonist in my own drama to comic relief in my parent's tragedy.

My thoughts: She waited for so long to tell her parents that she was gay and when she does her dad's homosexuality takes center stage and she's left holding the bag.

Passage 2:

(setting the background for you)
Allison and her father go into a diner one day for lunch. A woman walks in dressed much like a man and her first thoughts were:

I didn't know there were women who wore men's clothes and had men's haircuts. But like a traveler in a foreign country who runs into someone from home--someone they've never spoken to, but know by sight--I recognized her with a surge of joy.

Dad recognized her too.
"Is that what you want to look like?"

What else could I say?

But the vision of the truck-driving bulldyke sustained me through the perhaps it haunted my father.

Passage 3:

(setting the background for you)
Allison was taking English classes at college and shared the list with her father for over a year and a half but after awhile she felt that his excitement was suffocating her. She realized that she had neglected to do a short project and so she signed up for James Joyce's Ulysses and decided to share this with her dad.

Home for Christmas, I found dad's delight about Ulysses a bit galling.
"Here, take this. It's the copy I used in college."

But it was nice to have his attention.

Can I write in it?
"Here's Dubliners, too. The first three stories are life drafts from portrait."

I realized I had missed it, however vicarious it may have been.

"And the dead. you have to read the dead. Or at least the very least, the last paragraph."

In a burst of tenderness, I encouraged him further.

So...what should I read this weekend?

Her father's face is elated...

"Hmm..let me think."

My thoughts:
This interaction between the father and daughter made me full of emotions and brought glaringly into the light my loss of relationship with my own dad. After locking her father out of her English reading life, she realizes how much happiness her father receives by sharing this passionate interest with her. The drawings are spectacular, as you're reading the text and looking at the drawings it makes everything that much more intense.

I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys graphic novels and I want to also acknowledge that I got this title from Wendy at Musings of a Bookish Kitty.(Wendy, if you read this please shoot me the link to your post!! I looked all over and can't find it to save my life!! EDITED 2/16/09 I found the link!! Click on Musings above and you will see her review!!) She posted some of her hubby's favorite graphic novels and I read about this one and thought it would be interesting. And of course it was much more than that!!

For all of you that made it to the end of this long post...I thank you and send you much love!!


  1. Oh my goodness.... it was worth scrolling down and seeing that cute heart button!

    AND I am intrigued by the Rapunzel book.... I have to go and find a copy to read! (I still love fairy tales....)

    Thanks for the idea.

  2. PS. I enjoyed your heart button so much I've shared in on my own blog.....

  3. I adored both Maus and Fun Home :) The others I haven't read yet, but I'd love to get my hands on Rapunzel's Revenge. I love Shannon Hale and fairy tale retellings!

    I'm so glad you decided to give this medium a chance, Staci. It always makes me happy to see people discover comics and realize they're worth reading.

  4. I am SO amazed and impressed that you could read 3 books in a weekend. I'm a slow reader I must admit. I'm still on Mangum's #3. Well, actually, I'm trying to read it slow because I don't want it to end. LOL!

    I still have 3 from Jensen Walker to read too.

  5. Wow, you have been a busy reader. Sounds like you picked some good ones.

    Are you calling my hubby a geek? You should know he doesn't read anything now unless it's a sports or guitar rocker book. He's grown up from the comic book stage. :)

  6. I just read Fun Home as well, and it definitely had a lot of impact on me. So powerful!

  7. Maus I and II are so brilliantly done. I rated them both 5/5.

    Glad you liked them!


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