11.28.2014

Theseus and the Minotaur by Yvan Pommaux, 49 pp, RL: 3



Theseus and the Minotaur is a new book by beloved French author Yvan Pommaux, known for his detailed research and illustration style, who has won many prestigious awards and had three schools named after him! Theseus and the Minotaur is also a new title from TOON Graphics, a new line of graphic novels for kids reading at 3rd grade level and above created by the amazing François Mouly and the fantastic people at TOON Books who are dedicated to giving emergent, and now developing, readers quality, high interest books.

Pommaux's story is packed with characters and plot, action and oddities, as Greek myths are. And, the story of Theseus and the Minotaur has roots in history. The story begins with a modern ship at sea in the dark of night where a grandfatherly type says he is going to give his audience, a boy and a girl, the story they asked for. After births, bulls, battles and betrayals, Theseus defeats the Minotaur and returns home to more sadness. The story returns to the ship at sea, now clearly in the Aegean Sea, and the storyteller, who tells listeners that Theseus's first act as king was to name the sea where his father, Aegeus, died, after him. Next, Theseus decided to value wisdom and humility over bravery and courage and he stepped down from the royal throne, instead establishing a form of government of the people now known as democracy.

Pommaux's story is dense and complex at times, but he includes pronunciation guides for names and places and breaks the text up with the illustrations in ways that make it easier to follow and keep track of the various characters and places. And, as with all books in the TOON Graphics series, there is a the superb "Visual Glossary" and an index along with the tips for parents, teachers and librarians at the end of the book give context for the story and interesting, valuable information and insights that enrich the reader's experience. 





Source: Review Copy

11.26.2014

Cast Away on the Letter A : A Philemon Adventure by Fred, translated by Richard Kutner, RL: 3




Cast Away on the Letter A by Fred, the pseudonym of Frédéric Aristidès, creator of one of the most famous graphic novel series in France (did you know that the French have long been huge graphic novel fans?) was originally published in 1972. This is the first time it has been translated in English, thanks to the amazing François Mouly and the fantastic people at TOON Books who are dedicated to giving emergent readers quality, high interest books. Last year,  TOON Graphics, a line of graphic novels for kids reading at 3rd grade level and above, was launched and Cast Away on the Letter A is one of the featured titles!

 When we meet Philemon on the first pages of Cast Away on the Letter A, we learn that he is an imaginative teenager who lived on a farm in France back in the 1960s along with Anatole, Phil's trusty friend who is also a donkey, and his grouchy father, Hector. One thing that I LOVE about TOON Books is the love and appreciation that Mouly and her staff have for the graphic novel and how much they want readers to share in this passion. Because Cast Away on the Letter A was written in 1972 it looks different from the graphic novels and illustrations in children's books today and the story moves at a slightly different pace. The "Meet Philemon" introduction and the SUPERB "Visual Glossary and Index," along with the tips for parents, teachers and librarians at the end of the book give context for the story and interesting, valuable information and insights that enrich the reader's experience. 



When the pump on the farm breaks, Hector sends Philemon to the well for water, where he discovers a message in a bottle that reads, "Help! Don't abandon me." Despite Anatole's protests, the goodhearted Philemon decides he has to go down in the well to investigate further. This is when he ends up in another world altogether, a cast away on an island where he meets Bartholomew, the sender of the message in the bottle. Phil discovers that Bartholomew is the well digger of legend from his village who disappeared forty years ago while digging a well. As Philemon tries to acclimate to the strange ways of the island, and Bartholomew, he soon discovers what he is on and where, exactly he is. Phil is a cast away on the letter "A" that spells out the word "Atlantic" on the map! Happily, Philemon finds a way home. Even more happily, his next adventure, The Wild Piano, will be published next year!

COMING MAY 2015!