March 2, 2018

First Friday 5: Graphic Novelizations

It's a key time right now for graphic novel adaptations. Graphic novels are being more widely recognized as key entry points for students learning to read visual narratives, and that means that graphic novel adaptations of books and movies are popping up left and right. Personally, I'm pretty excited about the A Wrinkle in Time movie coming out next week, and since I'd been keen to read Hope Larson's graphic novel adaptation of Madeline L'Engle's classic story for a loooong time, I thought, why not explore graphic novelizations this month? So, ta-da! Here are some of my favorite recent graphic novelizations! As always, this list is by no means exhaustive (hey, it's only five books!) so I would love to hear what other graphic novelizations you'd recommend.

Written by L.M. Montgomery, adapted by Mariah Marsden, and illustrated by Brenna Thummler

Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert adopt an eleven-year-old orphan named Anne Shirley to help manage their family farm, and Anne's series of misadventures brighten the lives of everyone around her. Anne has always been a very spirited girl, but when she realizes one day that the elderly Cuthberts actually meant to adopt a boy instead, she begins to try to win them over. Thummler's illustrations are soft and capture the wit and nostalgia of the original text for readers familiar with Anne's story, making the book a lovely treasure to add to the Anne collection.

The Breadwinner: A Graphic Novel
Written by Deborah Ellis

Based on the movie of the same name, The Breadwinner tells the story of eleven-year-old Parvana who disguises herself as a boy to support her family during the Taliban's rule in Afghanistan. Parvana's father used to be a history teacher, but after his school was bombed he became ill and ended up working in the marketplace reading letters for illiterate patrons. One day, he is arrested for having banned books, and Parvana must take his place as the breadwinner for her family. As a girl, she is forbidden to work, so she disguises herself as a boy and puts her life on the line to save her family.

Gareth Hinds interprets seven Edgar Allan Poe stories, including: "The Cask of Amontillado," "The Masque of the Red Death," "The Pit and the Pendulum," "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Raven," "The Bells," and "Annabel Lee." Hinds' illustrations elicit strong feelings of terror and horror, with each pane framed almost as though it were on a television screen. It feels like we're watching a horror movie with the dramatic angles and close-ups, and each graphic narrative is quick and chock-full of key visual motifs that keep each story feeling fast-paced.

Speak: The Graphic Novel
Written by Laurie Halse Anderson and illustrated by Emily Carroll

This book never gets easier, whether it's being adapted into a film or a graphic novel. But man, oh man, if there was ever a prose novel that was meant to be adapted into a graphic novel, it's this one. Seriously, no one could have illustrated this story better than Emily Carroll. Speak is the story of Melinda, an outcast who ruined an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. No one will talk to her, let alone listen to her, so she stops speaking. Instead she focuses on her art, which gives her the courage to admit she was raped by an upperclassman.

A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel
Written by Madeleine L'Engle and illustrated by Hope Larson

Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and neighbor Calvin O'Keefe set out to rescue Meg's father, a scientist who disappeared many years ago while engaged in secret work for the government. Along with guardian angels Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which, the kids travel through time and space in search of Meg's father only to discover that finding him is simply one piece of a much larger puzzle. Larson's muted illustrations, as always, are phenomenal, and the tricolor palette of periwinkle, black, and white captures the story's tone immaculately.

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