At best, a poor substitute for Cliffs Notes and like slacker fare. (Graphic novel. 11-14)

READ REVIEW

ROBINSON CRUSOE

From the Graphic Classics series

A labored retelling of the classic survival tale in graphic format, heavily glossed and capped with multiple value-added mini-essays.

Along with capturing neither the original’s melodrama nor the stranded Crusoe’s MacGyver-esque ingenuity in making do, Graham’s version quickly waxes tedious thanks to forced inclusion of minor details and paraphrased rather than directly quoted dialogue in an artificially antiquated style (“You Friday. Me Master”). Frequent superscript numbers lead to often-superfluous footnotes: “Crusoe, a European, assumes that he is superior to other races. This attitude was usual at the time when the story was written.” Shoehorned into monotonous rows of small panels, the art battles for real estate with both dialogue balloons and boxed present-tense descriptions of what’s going on (the pictures themselves being rarely self-explanatory). Seven pages of closing matter cover topics from Defoe’s checkered career to stage and film versions of his masterpiece—and even feature an index for the convenience of assignment-driven readers.

At best, a poor substitute for Cliffs Notes and like slacker fare. (Graphic novel. 11-14)

Pub Date: June 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7641-4451-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Barron's

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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TREASURE ISLAND

“Woohoo. Treasure Island, here we come!” So crows young Jim Hawkins in this notably lame and jumbled graphic adaptation of Stevenson’s classic. Crowding variously sized panels and sometimes-misplaced dialogue balloons atop one another, Kohlrus illustrates the tale with jumbles of generally static figures in ragged (but apparently freshly laundered) clothing and scenes of hard-to-follow action. The sound-bite dialogue is largely incidental to Jim’s severely truncated narrative, which is broken up into multiple captions on every page, includes unnecessary footnotes (“The Dry Tortugas are a small group of islands in the Gulf of Mexico”) and gives the whole outing a feeling of being told rather than shown. No competition for the robust adaptations of Tim Hamilton (2005) or Roy Thomas (2008), nor does it measure up to the standards set by the same publisher’s adaptation of Moby Dick, adapted by Lance Stahlberg and illustrated by Lalit Kumar Singh (ISBN: 978-93-80028-22-4). (Graphic fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: July 6, 2010

ISBN: 978-93-80028-21-7

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Campfire

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2010

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Lacking in character development and depth.

THE RED ZONE

AN EARTHQUAKE STORY

When people in a small Italian town lose everything in an earthquake, its youth must find a way to heal.

The 2016 earthquake in central Italy offers a backdrop for this graphic novel. Matteo; his girlfriend, Giulia; and their school friends are frightened: Their world has been destroyed, and they feel aftershocks daily. Many of their neighbors have moved away, but Matteo’s mother and stepfather work in the village, and they must stay. Matteo is luckier than most—his father brings them an old camper trailer so they can leave emergency housing. But tensions run high for others, and problems began to arise. Matteo’s friend seeks his lost dog in the forbidden zone. His little sister has trouble sleeping, and someone at their school commits vandalism. Matteo and Giulia set off to find the culprit and help a friend in need, leaning on an art teacher who teaches them an important lesson from Japan. Unfortunately the language feels stiff, and the friendships at the heart of the story are too generic. Readers learn little about these characters before the earthquake, and they fail to emerge as individuals afterward. The simple frames, awash in blue for nighttime scenes and shades of ocher for day, feel static for such an energetic premise. Most characters appear white; there is a Muslim refugee family; and Giulia is brown skinned.

Lacking in character development and depth. (author’s note) (Graphic novel. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3368-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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