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Saturday 27 July 2013

Graphic Novelisations - from Tehani Wessely

As a teacher librarian, one of the things I’ve done in all my schools has been to build up the graphic novel section of the collection. I’ve read comics since I was a kid, though never on a serious fan level; I would read a cereal box rather than nothing, so anything with words that told a story was a bonus for this kid from the country.

I loved Teen Titans, Wonder Woman and Batman and the Outsiders, X-Men and Firestorm and Dial ‘H’ for Hero and Archie and Garfield and anything else I came across, really! Back then, I was a fairly scattershot reader, mainly because I read so much I was always searching for new material. I’m a little more discerning now (no, really!) but I still like comics (though I generally read trade editions now) and I’m a big fan of the graphic novelisation.
While there are many excellent original graphic novels, and hundreds of trade compilations of comic issues every year, the graphic novelisation of popular books particularly appeals to me because it can be a gateway for readers into the “real” books. I’ve had several successes with students reading the first few volumes of graphic novels and then moving onto the original books because they don’t want to wait for the next installment, or simply because they want more story. It’s excellent!

I’ve seen brilliant graphic versions of classic works, including multiple versions of Shakespearean plays, stories from Jane Austen, Dracula, the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and Sherlock Holmes, but easier sells to kids are adaptations of current popular books. I’ve read a number of great graphic versions that I can personally recommend (for the appropriate ages), such as:

Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer
Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz
Twilight and New Moon by Stephenie Meyer (I’m not a huge Twilight fan, but the art in this is beautiful, and NOT inspired by the film, which I really liked!)
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
CHERUB series by Robert Muchamore
Percy Jackson by Rick Riorden
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Daniel X: Alien Hunter by James Patterson
Cirque du Freak by Darren Shan (the Darren Shan saga)

Others I haven’t yet got my hands on that look really interesting include:

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Discworld graphic novels by Terry Pratchett
City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

One note of caution: by nature, graphic novels can be a bit more confronting in terms of violence and nudity than the source material, so it’s worth previewing books which may have questionable content. Sometimes it’s played down in the art, other times it is front and centre, so checking books out is essential.
Tehani Wessely is the current Tasmanian Children's Book of the Year Judge.

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