Skip to main content

Snow White by Matt Phelan, 216 pp, RL 3

Snow White has always been Matt Phelan's favorite fairy tale. Phelan got the idea to set his version of Snow White in Depression Era New York City while sketching apple peddlers for a story he wrote about Herbert Hoover for the anthology book Our White House. Phelan's illustration lends itself marvelously to the noir tone of this story that is set amidst the end of the Jazz Age and the beginning of the Depression. With the Queen of the Zigfield Follies cast as the wicked stepmother and Detective Prince taking on the role of Charming, the casting is perfect - especially Snow White's protectors and friends, the Seven Dwarves.

Samantha "Snow" White lost her mother to tuberculosis when she was a little girl. Her father remarries and she is sent to boarding school. Snow's father is a business man and his ticker tape machine, one that he watches with growing unease and concern, especially after surviving the crash. Phelan brilliantly has the ticker tape stand in for the magic mirror that drives the Queen to her wicked deeds. After Snow's father dies, it is his will, naming her as the sole inheritor, not her potential as a rival beauty, that causes her exile. This exile granted to her, instead of death, by Mr. Hunt, a goon with a heart of gold. 

Snow flees to Hooverville where she is rescued by a gang of orphaned boys living on the street. Their relationship is one of my favorite parts of Snow White, with the tough urchins refusing to tell Snow their names, until a tender, heartbrreaking moment later in the tale. I don't want to give away all of Phelan's marvelous adaptations, but I will say that the store window of Macy's does play a special role in this story. Phelan's expressive, suggestive illustrations save the sharp lines for the wicked stepmother's Louise Brook's bob, glaring eyes and her fitting end. Snow and the boys are soft lines and smiles when the world is treating them well, and the ending to Snow White treats them very well and just might bring a tear to your eye. Phelan uses splashes of red sparingly, eloquently and effectively in Snow White, with most of the story playing out in slate greys and occasional icy blues. However, Phelan's "happily ever after" is presented in a warm palette that is indeed a happy ending.

Read my reviews of more of Matt Phelan's graphic novels and picture books here

Source: Review Copy


Popular posts from this blog

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!


POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

The Seeing Stick, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Daniela J Terrazini

The Seeing Stick is an original Chinese fairy tale written by the prolific (and prolifically award winning) Jane Yolen. First published in 1977 with illustrations by Remy Charlip (author and illustrator of the brilliantly fun picture book Fortunately and friend and muse to Brian Selznick, who asked him to pose as George Méliès while he was working on the Caldecott winning The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Seeing Stick was reissued with new illustrations by Daniela J. Terrazini in 2009. I have not seen Charlip's version, but Terrazini's is a beautiful work of art and the book itself is yet another magnificently packaged book published by Running Press, the house that brought us Steven Arntson's The Wikkeling, yet another superbly and uniquely packaged children's book with artwork by Terrazini. Interestingly, both The Wikkeling and The Seeing Stick were designed by Frances J Soo Ping Chow.

The Seeing Stick begins, "Once in the ancient walled citadel of Peking there l…