Friday, August 7, 2009

Graphic novels - Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon Hale

RAPUNZEL'S REVENGE. Written by Shannon and Dean Hale. Ill. by Nathan Hale. New York: Bloomsbury, 2008. ISBN 9781599902883.

Fairytale heroine meets the Old West in this hilarious graphic novel version of Rapunzel. When Rapunzel escapes from her tower, she runs into Jack, a loner with ideas of his own, including how to get his goose to lay golden eggs. Rapunzel uses her hair as a lariat to get her and Jack out of frequent scrapes, and in the end, Jack turns out to be none other than the Jack of beanstalk fame. Jack subsequently grows a beanstalk to rescue our fair heroine. But Rapunzel has everything under control. Or does she? When Jack plants a kiss on her at the end of the story, will there be a hapy ever after for this adventurous duo, or will more fairy tale adventures await them? Although it seems funny to hear Rapunzel and Jack using Old West jargon, the dialogue is short and sweet and fits perfectly with the setting. The illustrations are bright and vibrant, and it's almost possible to believe Jack and Rapunzel could be real.

Awards & Honors:
Cybils, 2008 Winner Graphic Novels (Elementary/Middle Grade) United States

Tina Coleman (Booklist, Sep. 1, 2008 (Vol. 105, No. 1))
This graphic novel retelling of the fairy-tale classic, set in a swashbuckling Wild West, puts action first and features some serious girl power in its spunky and strong heroine. Young Rapunzel lives a lonely life, never knowing what lies beyond the high garden walls of her mother’s royal villa until one day she climbs the wall to see what’s on the other side. When she finds that the world outside is a dark place oppressed by her mother’s greed for power and uncovers the real secret of her own birth, she is imprisoned in a magic tree tower. In her years of captivity, she learns a lot about self-reliance and care for her exceptionally long hair, and eventually she is able to escape, vowing to bring down her mother’s cruel empire. Hale’s art matches the story well, yielding expressive characters and lending a wonderful sense of place to the fantasy landscape. Rich with humor and excitement, this is an alternate version of a classic that will become a fast favorite of young readers.

Laura Lehner (VOYA, October 2008 (Vol. 31, No. 4))
This version of the classic fairy tale Rapunzel is set in the old Southwest, complete with cowboys, coal mines, and coyotes. Rapunzel is a young girl living in a fortress with Mother Gothel, an enchantress who can make plants grow at her whim. Although their home is overflowing with fruits and flowers, it is surrounded by a wall that masks the desert and coal mines outside-Gothel owns everything, and the native people depend on her good will to keep their crops growing. When Rapunzel sneaks over the wall on her twelfth birthday, she sees the desolate world over which Mother Gothel rules, and she meets her real mother who was forced to give Rapunzel to Gothel at birth. To punish her curiosity, Gothel imprisons Rapunzel inside an enchanted tree that has only one window, far above the ground. Just as in the original version, Rapunzel's hair grows prodigiously. But this girl does not need a prince to climb up and rescue her. She uses her braid as a lasso to escape the tree and goes on many adventures that lead her ultimately to reunite with her mother and find true love in a boy named Jack, whose companion is an uncooperative goose. The Hale team creates an engaging heroine. Rapunzel gallivants across the unexpected setting, meets a cast of characters both humorous and threatening, and in the end comes to inherit the land that Gothel had stripped of life and returns it to the native people. This novel presents entertaining girl power at its quirkiest.

Have your students write their own graphic novel representations of a fairy tale of their own choosing.

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