The Odyssey: A Graphic Novel by Gareth Hinds, 250 pp, RL: MIDDLE SCHOOL
Before creating The Odyssey: A Graphic Novel in 2010 Gareth Hinds had already established a reputation as a masterful, succinct adaptor of classic literature to graphic novel format from Beowulf to The Merchant of Venice and King Lear. Reviewers have heaped praise upon Hinds's work, especially The Odyssey: A Graphic Novel, which has been described as "a grand example of Hinds's ability to combine historical adventure with human understanding," (Booklist) with his illustrations lauded for being, "proudly, grittily realistic, rather than cheerfully cartoonish," (Kirkus) and "arrayed in frames whose shape, number, and palette expertly pace and propel the story." (The Horn Book). However, as Hinds himself notes, above all other starred reviews from prestigious sources, the review an English teacher shared on the Barnes & Noble website seemed like the best possible recommendation. This teacher used Hinds's book in place of The Odyssey for struggling students, saying, "My students LOVED reading The Odyssey: A Graphic Novel and did SO much better with their unit test (which I did not change at all from the one I use with the regular text). This book is a delight!"
Having listened to the audio of The Odyssey narrated marvelously by Sir Ian McKellan (you can listen to Book 1 here) and reading Hinds's book at the same time, I can enthusiastically confirm Hinds's meticulous and loyal adaptation. In fact, while I found it relatively easy to get used to Homer's language and storytelling style after a while, it was much more enjoyable keeping up with Odysseus's never ending setbacks and adventures when I read Hinds's book at the same time. With this in mind, the comment above from a teacher gets to the heart of why I wanted to review adaptations of The Odyssey for children: The Odyssey by Homer is not for everyone, but the story of Odysseus and the Gods of Olympus is. I realize that not every young reader is going to be in an academic situation that will require her or to read this classic, which is the kind of nudge most people need, but, given the right situation, I think they would, especially knowing that. there are millions of young readers who are voarciously consuming the novels of Rick Riordan (who is quoted on the back jacket of The Odyssey: A Graphic Novel) that are based on Greek, Roman and Egyptian mythologies. While the sales of the classic, D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths, have jumped considerably in the wake of Riordan's books, The Odyssey is a long narrative and a feat of storytelling that offers so much more than the short stories of gods and goddesses in most collections. I hope that you will take the time to read The Odyssey, with your kids or on your own, the original or an adaptation like The Odyssey: A Graphic Novel and experience this true classic.
Please enjoy the first 20 pages of The Odyssey: A Graphic Novel courtesy of Gareth Hinds:
Other graphic novel adaptations of classics by Gareth Hinds: