Authentically enlightening and entertaining.

KING SHAKA

ZULU LEGEND

From the African Graphic Novel Series series , Vol. 2

Following on Shaka Rising (2018), this volume further explores the legend of King Shaka, founder of the Zulu nation.

Much research has been done by South African Molver to trace the particulars of Shaka’s life from his birth in the 1780s until his death in 1828. Zulu culture was an oral one, passing down history through the telling of stories, which led to multiple versions of the truth even as the “ignorance or bias” of European written records was understood to be historical fact. Recognizing its own narrative as simply one telling of the story, this book focuses on the last decade of his reign, when external and internal threats challenged his prominence. There’s the arrival of conspiring European settlers and even a bit of nefarious plotting among the siblings who envy Shaka’s throne. Woven throughout are key terms from isiZulu, along with symbolism inherent to Zulu supernatural beliefs, giving readers a deeply contextual immersion in the cultural foundations of the Zulu people who today represent almost a quarter of South Africa’s population. The illustrations show stern and stalwart faces and display the brutal, inflamed action of war. The overwhelming global success of Marvel’s Black Panther is echoed in the final image, which, in opposition to the story’s historical specificity, feels generic and tame.

Authentically enlightening and entertaining. (historical notes, timeline, cultural and linguistic notes, discussion questions, glossary, pronunciation guide) (Graphic historical fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946498-93-9

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Story Press Africa

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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Entertaining for fans of villain backstories and Disney classics alike.

EVIL THING

A VILLAINS GRAPHIC NOVEL

From the Villains series

A chronicle of Cruella De Vil’s descent into Dalmatian destruction.

The only child of Lord and Lady De Vil, Cruella was enamored by high society life from a young age. She idolized her cold, demanding mother and loved her caring father, despite his giving her less extravagant gifts. Both parents wanted her to distinguish herself, though they intended very different meanings by that word. While young Cruella believed that servants and others from less privileged backgrounds should know their places, Anita, her less socially lofty best friend, was an exception. But as she grew up and married, she had to face the question of what it really meant to possess wealth, beauty, and happiness. Framed as a memoir, this story vividly expresses Cruella’s personality. Valentino does a solid job of establishing the cast of characters, and fans of the animated film will enjoy connecting the threads. While there are moments of softness that evoke readers’ empathy, Cruella unapologetically wields her power to behave cruelly. She is ultimately fueled by her desperation for maternal validation, jealousy, delirium, and a perhaps-cursed pair of earrings. Jovellanos’ art deftly captures a range of emotions, specifically in showing how Cruella’s face is transformed in response to her whims. Using a color palette of muted reds, blacks, grays, and whites, the illustrations express a fitting tone for a Cruella tell-all. Characters read as White.

Entertaining for fans of villain backstories and Disney classics alike. (Graphic fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-06816-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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THE ODYSSEY

Hinds adds another magnificent adaptation to his oeuvre (King Lear, 2009, etc.) with this stunning graphic retelling of Homer’s epic. Following Odysseus’s journey to return home to his beloved wife, Penelope, readers are transported into a world that easily combines the realistic and the fantastic. Gods mingle with the mortals, and not heeding their warnings could lead to quick danger; being mere men, Odysseus and his crew often make hasty errors in judgment and must face challenging consequences. Lush watercolors move with fluid lines throughout this reimagining. The artist’s use of color is especially striking: His battle scenes are ample, bloodily scarlet affairs, and Polyphemus’s cave is a stifling orange; he depicts the underworld as a colorless, mirthless void, domestic spaces in warm tans, the all-encircling sea in a light Mediterranean blue and some of the far-away islands in almost tangibly growing greens. Don’t confuse this hefty, respectful adaptation with some of the other recent ones; this one holds nothing back and is proudly, grittily realistic rather than cheerfully cartoonish. Big, bold, beautiful. (notes) (Graphic classic. YA)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4266-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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