AUDUBON

From the On the Wings of the World series

A luscious, reimagined biography that will attach a personality to a famous name for 21st-century readers.

Scenes from the life of the famous 19th-century naturalist John James Audubon, presented in graphic-novel format, demonstrate his passion.

Grolleau and Royer introduce the ornithologist in a dramatic prequel in which Audubon, enraptured by a skein of Canada geese, ignores a coming thunderstorm—behavior that will recur throughout his life as he ignores his family, his physical well-being, and the opinions of others to follow his dream of painting all the birds in America, a new and relatively unexplored world for white settlers in the early 19th century. The narrative is organized into 5 sections, roughly identified by the location of his travels: to Kentucky, down the Mississippi, New Orleans, Great Britain, and west on the Missouri. Flashbacks provide background: meeting his faithful wife, feuding with scientists, and competing with ornithologist Alexander Wilson. He bands birds, kills a bear, experiences a three-day flight of passenger pigeons, and laments the disappearance of wildlife with the coming of Europeans. In embellished or imagined episodes he is guided by a Native American, helps a runaway slave, and meets and encourages Darwin. First published in French, this has been smoothly translated by Gilfillan, but it is the picture story that will most engage American readers. The inclusion of four reproductions of Audubon’s birds as well as a portrait of Audubon adds a lovely grace note.

A luscious, reimagined biography that will attach a personality to a famous name for 21st-century readers. (biography, notes, selective bibliography) (Graphic novel. 10-15)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-910620-15-1

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Nobrow Ltd.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.

LET FREEDOM RING

From the Graphic Novel Heroes series

Despite occasional stumbles, a worthwhile reminder for readers who will recognize his name but may be a little hazy on what...

An inspirational biography in graphic format—highlighting both King’s passion for his cause and his devotion to Gandhi’s nonviolent methods.

The authors craft original dialogue that reads like policy statements and have Dr. King even as a child spouting lines like “We are being treated as inferior people solely because of the color of our skin. How unfair.” Nevertheless, they deliver a clear, cogent account of their subject’s upbringing, the vicious racial (and, later, social and economic) issues that sparked his involvement in the civil rights movement and the ensuing course of his short but enduringly influential career. Not all of the dialogue balloons and narrative boxes are properly placed, but Kumar draws facial features accurately. With a mix of overlaid and separated panels, he creates a strong sense of drama whether he’s depicting Dr. King firing up a crowd or Rosa Parks’ quiet composure. Numerous passages (not always accurately quoted: “the arm [sic] of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”) from Dr. King’s speeches and writings add oratorical authority to the account, and a folding timeline at the end provides a broad historical overview of African-American history up to Barack Obama’s first presidential election.

Despite occasional stumbles, a worthwhile reminder for readers who will recognize his name but may be a little hazy on what he stood for. (Graphic biography. 11-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-93-80028-69-9

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Campfire

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2012

ABRAHAM LINCOLN

BIRTH OF A NEW FREEDOM

From the Graphic Novel Heroes series

Reasonably accurate—but the historical territory is already thoroughly surveyed elsewhere, and the unusual format doesn’t...

Lincoln’s life gets a graphic treatment, but the prose reads like a school report, and even the battle scenes look staged.

The book takes the form of an autobiographical lecture to his son Tad that highlights his intense opposition to slavery. Lincoln carries his story from early days (“On February 12, 1809, in Hardin County in Kentucky, I was born in a small, one-room log cabin”) to his departure for Ford’s Theatre. At this point, an omniscient narrator takes over to cover the assassination and the later ratification of the 13th Amendment. Though Helfand slips in short flights of eloquence from Lincoln’s oratory, his own writing runs to lines like “Nor could he accept that the future of his nation should be resigned to slavery and injustice” and “This new guy, Abraham, is going down.” The illustrator tries to add pace and energy by slanting and overlaying his squared-off panels and adding discreetly sized sound effects (slave catchers’ dogs: “Woof! Woof!”). Despite this, neither the occasional cleanly drawn battlefields nor the many scenes of men in suits exchanging political views are the stuff of compelling visuals.

Reasonably accurate—but the historical territory is already thoroughly surveyed elsewhere, and the unusual format doesn’t compensate for the routine content. (appendix) (Graphic nonfiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-93-80741-21-5

Page Count: 108

Publisher: Campfire

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2012

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