Monday, January 26, 2009

Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale; ill. by Nathan Hale

When you think you've read another retelling of a fairy tale, along comes a graphic novel with a twist, and Rapunzel's not your ordinary princess.

In this graphic retelling, Rapunzel indeed does live in a palace with her evil stepmother, Gothel, but then the differences begin. Gothel has the power over the lands she rules where she can create lush farmland or barren deserts, depending on her whim and how much she pulls in from taxes. Rapunzel isn't aware of any of this until she climbs over the palace walls and sees the huge gap between her life in the castle and those who work the mines or try to make a living off of the land. And it is in the mines that she reunites with her mother and her memories come back.

Of course, Gothel has been trying to indoctrinate Rapunzel into taking over her kingdom and becoming evil herself, but when she realizes the impact of Rapunzel's reunion, it's time to ship her off. Where? To a tall huge tree in the middle of a swamp where Rapunzel becomes a teenager, and in her lonliness, finds a multitude of uses for her long tresses, including roping, tying, and whipping.

After her escape from the tree tower, Punzie runs into many characters, among them a thief named Jack, who, of course, has a stolen goose. And there the adventures begin, from traversing the kingdom to escaping the clutches of Gothel's evil servants to finding the heart of the magic Gothel uses to destroy people and communities.

A colorful and animated graphic novel, this is one that will please junior high audiences with some appreciation for lower high school graphic novel readers. This graphic novel pulls from fairy tales and tongue-in-cheek humor and readers watch Rapunzel grow up from a child to a teenager and finding herself along the way. Not quite the wild west (it has elements of fantasty intertwined), this story has illustrations that show the strength and depth of the main characters as well asd depicting minor ones just as well. Interestingly, teens I've given this too have all commented on how much the back cover illustration reminded them of Annie paced, this will fly off of junior high shelves. Recommended.

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