Even people who’ve read countless folktales will find something new and surprising in this collection, and they may discover...

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GIANTS, TROLLS, WITCHES, BEASTS

TEN TALES FROM THE DEEP, DARK WOODS

It’s easy to forget how often folktales make no sense at all.

In the 10 myths and fairy tales adapted in this graphic novel, a boy hatches out of a peach, a hairbrush transforms into a mountain, and a polar bear grows a coat of feathers. The surreal images suit Phillips perfectly. He’s especially good at drawing the hawks made of ice who appear in “Thor and the Frost Giants.” Unless readers are experts on folklore, they may not be certain if the creatures were borrowed from the original stories or invented for the book. His sense of composition may remind some people of the legendary P. Craig Russell, with its use of open space and vivid, graduated colors. (The blue skies are particularly lovely.) But the character designs are odder and more abstract than Russell’s, and every story is drawn in its own style. The ogres in the Japanese story of “Momotaro,” fittingly enough, resemble the monsters in classic Japanese prints. (Outside of “Momotaro,” the stories’ primary human characters are generally white.) The visual storytelling, however, is sometimes confusing, and a few panels are poorly placed, throwing off the pacing.

Even people who’ve read countless folktales will find something new and surprising in this collection, and they may discover that the stories are even stranger than they remembered. (Graphic folklore. 7-12)

Pub Date: June 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-76011-326-1

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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A highflying mythological memoir alight with joie de vivre.

I AM HERMES!

Gerstein follows up I Am Pan! (2016) with an account of the pranks and exploits of the goat-footed god’s equally free-spirited father.

Bursting with self-confidence, golden from helmet to winged sandals, and, on the cover at least, sprayed with sparkles, Hermes literally outshines a multihued, caricatured supporting cast of gods, demigods, mortals, and monsters parading through the loosely drawn sequential panels. The boasting begins with his birth, first word (“GIMME!”), and—still but 1 day old—invention of the lyre from a tortoise shell and theft of Apollo’s cattle by turning their hooves around so they can’t be tracked. Charming his way out of punishment (and leaving Apollo happily strumming a cowboy song on the lyre), he goes on as messenger of the gods to hoodwink the nasty twin giants Otus and Ephialtes, become a father and a grandfather, rescue Hera’s friend Io from the monster Argus (a knobbly, pitch-black boojum studded with eyes), bestow on Aesop the art of telling fables, and, as the other gods fade into retirement, ultimately find a bright new outlet for his particular talents: “The Internet!” It’s a selective account, with all of Hermes’ amorous adventures except the wooing of Penelopeta (Pan’s mom) skipped over and the violence of the author’s classical source material dialed down enough to, for instance, leave Argus alive and the giants not slaughtered but tricked into a permanent bout of arm-wrestling. Admitting in a closing note to a bit of embellishment (no kidding), Gerstein caps this rollicking revel with a short but scholarly resource list.

A highflying mythological memoir alight with joie de vivre. (Mythology. 7-11)

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3942-3

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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A sweet and amusing update.

THE WHITE SNAKE

A brave servant seeks adventure and the hand of a princess in this modern adaptation of a lesser known Grimms’ tale.

Randall wants to do more with his life than serve at the beck and call of King Arnold, a ruler so self-absorbed that he would rather focus on having paintings hung than ruling his kingdom. His opportunity comes when Arnold sends him on a covert mission to Borisylvania to discover their king’s secret for ruling so justly. Randall’s sleuthing leads to his eating a piece of the eponymous white snake and gaining the power to understand animals. Returning to Arnold, Randall begins a quest for the princess’s hand in marriage that demonstrates the value of kindness and truly listening to others. Using comic-book–style graphics and panels, Nadler makes this tale fresh, multiethnic, and accessible to younger children. The artist is an expert at using facial expressions to draw out the tale’s humor and pathos. His shrewdest update, however, is the transformation of Princess Tilda from a prize-to-be-won supporting character into an adept and capable ruler who directly challenges her father’s outdated belief that a woman is incapable of wielding power well. This shift makes the relationship between Tilda and Randall a mutual meeting of the minds rather than a means for his social advancement. Randall has light brown skin and brown hair; Arnold and Tilda present black; the rulers of Borisylvania present white.

A sweet and amusing update. (Graphic fairy tale. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-943145-37-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: TOON Books & Graphics

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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