If you are like me and find fairy tales and their retellings a mite tedious without some innovative new twist or format, then you will heartily appreciate Craig Phillips eye-poppingly viewable new collection, Giants, Trolls, Witches, Beasts: Ten Tales from the Deep Dark Wood. This beautifully presented, large format book contains ten fairy and folk tales from around the world in graphic novel format. We received our copy from Allen & Unwin for review and here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
Diverse myths and legends from around the world, from Iceland to Poland to Japan, retold in easy-to-read glorious full-colour comic book form by a stunning Australian artist with an international reputation.
A cobbler girl tricks the Wawel Dragon, after all the king’s knights fail…
The Polar Bear King loses his skin…
Momotaro, born from a peach, defies the ogres everyone else is too scared to face…
Snow White and Rose Red make friends with a bear…
From Poland to Iceland, Japan to Germany, these ten fairytales from across the globe re-told as comics will have you enthralled. Giants! Trolls! Witches! Beasts! You will encounter them all in this visual cornucopia of a book.
Target Age Range:
Lower Primary to adult
Traditional fairy/folk tales
Rather than ripping through the whole thing as I normally would with a graphic novel, I read one story a night until I had finished the book. This worked really well, because it gave me time to consider and absorb each story before moving on to the next. (So, to answer the question, it took me ten days to get through it).
Let’s get gabbing:
I love graphic novels and I am lukewarm-to-openly-hostile toward fairy tales, so one might expect that I would find my enjoyment of this book to be fair to middling, but the strong illustrative element has swung this one for me. It seems, on reflection, to be an absolute no-brainer to liven up oft-told stories like fairy tales with vibrant illustrations but the use of full page illustrations in different frame layouts along with the traditional fairy tale style text and dialogue works incredibly well to flesh out the details and atmosphere of each story. Some of the stories here, such as the tale of Baba Yaga, the story of Snow White and Rose Red and the myth of Finn McCool will be familiar to many readers, but mixed in with these are less typical (if you are from a European background, anyway) stories, such as Momotaro, the peach-boy and the tale of the Polar Bear King who is forced to wear a fleece of feathers.
The graphic novel format is just genius because it instantly broadens the audience of the book. Teenagers, or older reluctant readers for instance, who might roll their eyes at the thought of reading fairy tales could easily pick up this tome without embarrassment and become absorbed in the visual appeal of the stories. The text is in that traditional, sometimes a bit convoluted, fairy tale style and so might be a bit tricky for the lower end of the intended audience, but taken with the illustrations, this book has high appeal to a whole range of reading ages.
I would absolutely love to see a follow up tome to this one from Phillips, with folk tales from an even wider range of cultures because the format is so readable and can so easily transfer between read-alone for confident readers, to read-aloud in a group setting, to read-together between parents and children snuggled up before bed. What an innovative new way to present some old classics that we feel like we’ve all seen before.
Until next time,