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The Graphic Canon of Children's Literature: The World's Great Kids' Lit as Comics and Visuals

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The original three-volume anthology The Graphic Canon presented the world's classic literature--from ancient times to the late twentieth century--as eye-popping comics, illustrations, and other visual forms. In this follow-up volume, young people's literature through the ages is given new life by the best comics artists and illustrators. Fairy tales, fables, fantastical The original three-volume anthology The Graphic Canon presented the world's classic literature--from ancient times to the late twentieth century--as eye-popping comics, illustrations, and other visual forms. In this follow-up volume, young people's literature through the ages is given new life by the best comics artists and illustrators. Fairy tales, fables, fantastical adventures, young adult novels, swashbuckling yarns, your favorite stories from childhood and your teenage years...they're all here, in all their original complexity and strangeness, before they were censored or sanitized.


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The original three-volume anthology The Graphic Canon presented the world's classic literature--from ancient times to the late twentieth century--as eye-popping comics, illustrations, and other visual forms. In this follow-up volume, young people's literature through the ages is given new life by the best comics artists and illustrators. Fairy tales, fables, fantastical The original three-volume anthology The Graphic Canon presented the world's classic literature--from ancient times to the late twentieth century--as eye-popping comics, illustrations, and other visual forms. In this follow-up volume, young people's literature through the ages is given new life by the best comics artists and illustrators. Fairy tales, fables, fantastical adventures, young adult novels, swashbuckling yarns, your favorite stories from childhood and your teenage years...they're all here, in all their original complexity and strangeness, before they were censored or sanitized.

30 review for The Graphic Canon of Children's Literature: The World's Great Kids' Lit as Comics and Visuals

  1. 5 out of 5

    karen

    this is the time of year i float reviews of fun books that would make nice presents. not for me, i already have them. i’m just being a kindly readers’ advisory holiday angel. "I refuse to lie to children. I refuse to cater to the bullshit of innocence." - Maurice Sendak this is a gorgeous book that reminds us how unsettling many esteemed classics of children's literature are. you know, when they're not flat-out terrifying. this is not a book for children, but it uses children's books as its this is the time of year i float reviews of fun books that would make nice presents. not for me, i already have them. i’m just being a kindly readers’ advisory holiday angel. "I refuse to lie to children. I refuse to cater to the bullshit of innocence." - Maurice Sendak this is a gorgeous book that reminds us how unsettling many esteemed classics of children's literature are. you know, when they're not flat-out terrifying. this is not a book for children, but it uses children's books as its foundation. that's not to say a kid couldn't flip through it - there's nothing more scandalous than a boob, but the point of this book is to kind of reimagine or recontextualize familiar works into something new, something unexpected. they've already been illustrated for kids - let's see what it's like without the disney treatment. There's something about seeing a children's work fully illustrated sequentially to make the terror and weirdness that much more visceral, that undeniable…We don't often see "Little Red Riding Hood" faithfully related in pictures. It's a shock to see Pinocchio hanging from a tree, Ratty brandishing a pistol in The Wind in the Willows, the wasp ruthlessly torturing the snake in Aesop's fable, Humpty Dumpty cracked wide open and dead, and the three blind mice getting tailectomies, to say nothing of the nightmarish seven-headed Mouse King from The Nutcracker. and this book delivers. naturally, i wasn't crazy about all the artwork, or all the reboots, but come on - how great it this? there are fifty texts covered at length, followed by a "gallery" of 61 single images illustrating a storybook, fable, fairytale, nursery rhyme etc. and although i hadn't read or even heard of some of the texts being referenced, this is a truly laudable project, and i definitely want to check out the other books in this series: From the Epic of Gilgamesh to Shakespeare to Dangerous Liaisons From "Kubla Khan" to the Bronte Sisters to The Picture of Dorian Gray From Heart of Darkness to Hemingway to Infinite Jest and now for a game!! i will post pictures, and you will guess the story!! i will try to limit it to things people have actually heard of, because some of them are a bit obscure, but i'm not going to make it TOO easy! there should probably be prizes, but i haven't figured that part out yet. feel free to make wild suggestions. okay, here we GO! 1) manuel sumberac (i do not know how to make a háček over the "s") 2) andrea tsurumi 3) david w. tripp 4) lesley barnes 5) maëlle doliveux 6) maëlle doliveux 7) isabel greenberg 8) billy nunez 9) keren katz (this one is probably too obscure, but i wanted to include it for greg because - foxes!) 10) sandy jimenez (this one is probably also too hard out of context like this, but yes - that is indeed ziggy stardust and freddie mercury) 11) joy kolitsky 12) molly brooks 13) alex eckman-lawn (my favorite) 14) roberta gregory 15) lance tooks 16) kevin h. dixon 17) dame darcy 18) vicki nerino 19) caroline picard 20) eric knisley 21) shawn cheng 22) matt wiegle 23) kate glasheen 24) katherine hearst (probably also too hard without context, but i love this artwork, which i photographed poorly) 25) emelie östergren 26) ernie colón 27) tori christina mckenna 28) lucy knisley 29) omri koresh 30) j-box 31) mimi leung 32) aaron fulcher 33) maria pérez pacheco 34) katrina young 35) jeff christensen great, great book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Zizeloni

    An anthology of different "children's" stories, starting from some typical choices like Brother Grimm's stories and Aesop, continuing with stories like Tom Saywer and Wizard of Oz and ending with Harry Potter, Time Machine and Anne Frank. Some illustrations were amazing pieces of art, some were cute comics that explained whole books in one page, some were ugly. In any case, it is worth owning this book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nafiza

    Some of the adaptations were spot on. Others, not so much. Still, the book is incredibly beautiful. Well worth a look if you are a graphic novel/kidlit aficionado.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Alicia

    This gorgeous tome of children's stories illustrated in the graphic novel style is a must-have for any writer/illustrator. From the eerie retellings of Red Riding Hood and cut-paper illustrated fables to one-page cartoon synopses of Harry Potter and Oz novels, this book is a treasure trove of stories in every illustration style imaginable. Highly recommended. Warnings on: mature themes, nudity.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Deke

    A large, lovely compendium of retold classics. Fun to experience other artists’ reimaginings.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nostalgia Reader

    Like any anthology such as this, there are hits and misses, and if you don't know the stories that these are based on, some of them can be confusing, or just flat out skipable. However, the variety of art styles and techniques was wide reaching and gorgeous to look at, regardless of story. I actually didn't care much for most of the adaptations of novels (both modern and classics), but I really enjoyed all of the fairy tale adaptations there were. They're the ones I still remember, while most of Like any anthology such as this, there are hits and misses, and if you don't know the stories that these are based on, some of them can be confusing, or just flat out skipable. However, the variety of art styles and techniques was wide reaching and gorgeous to look at, regardless of story. I actually didn't care much for most of the adaptations of novels (both modern and classics), but I really enjoyed all of the fairy tale adaptations there were. They're the ones I still remember, while most of the novel ones either fell flat or were in styles I wasn't as crazy about. There were a few exceptions when it came to novels though, namely The Time Machine and Pippi Longstocking, and the ultimate complete Oz series summaries. I have this book to thank for kicking me to finally read the Oz stories (which I can now say, that style was on point), and this was my first introduction to Sandberg's "Rootabega Stories" (although I wasn't a fan of the style or storytelling here, its nonsensical premise was too intriguing not to research further). While this certainly isn't for children (traditional Grimm level violence, some nudity, some delightfully creepy illustrations in some parts), I would recommend it for middle graders on up, who likely have been exposed to more of the stories, and hopefully have gotten to a point where they appreciate different art styles. I was pleased with the variety of styles and stories told, and this was the first time a compilation such as this encouraged me to go out and read some source materials, rather than simply be content with not understanding the adaptation. See the full table of contents here. (Cross posted on my blog.)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    This was so much fun to flip through. I found myself drawn at first to my favorites- Alice in wonderland (which was hilarious! Alice reminded me totally of LSP in Adventure Time ), Oz (amazing, one page summary for each 14 books, colored like old sunday comics, original pages were two feet by a yard!), Watership Down (like a dark, silent movie of Fiver's horrific, prophecy and trying to get the rabbits out), and Harry Potter (full summary posters for each book). But then I found myself flipping This was so much fun to flip through. I found myself drawn at first to my favorites- Alice in wonderland (which was hilarious! Alice reminded me totally of LSP in Adventure Time ), Oz (amazing, one page summary for each 14 books, colored like old sunday comics, original pages were two feet by a yard!), Watership Down (like a dark, silent movie of Fiver's horrific, prophecy and trying to get the rabbits out), and Harry Potter (full summary posters for each book). But then I found myself flipping through all the others, each in such a unique art style and adaptation. Especially liked- the colorful, geometric version of Time Machine. the simplistic, Chinese version of Goldilocks. the tiny, red-haired, bundle of spaz that is Heidi. Some were adaptations of the whole story, some were brief summaries of the story, and some were adaptations of excerpts of the original story. All in all, a beautiful and creative collection.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Stef

    I love the Graphic Canon series! I think it is such a unique, wonderful way to make literature, especially the daunting or boring pieces, accessible and wonderful. This one might be my favorite of them all though. The takes on fables, fairytales and kids' books are imaginative, if not always pretty (I'm looking at you, Alice). I read a few new fairy tales (for me, anyway), and got to read my favorites in a whole new way. Seriously, these books are awesome. I've been introduced to new books I want I love the Graphic Canon series! I think it is such a unique, wonderful way to make literature, especially the daunting or boring pieces, accessible and wonderful. This one might be my favorite of them all though. The takes on fables, fairytales and kids' books are imaginative, if not always pretty (I'm looking at you, Alice). I read a few new fairy tales (for me, anyway), and got to read my favorites in a whole new way. Seriously, these books are awesome. I've been introduced to new books I want to read, new adaptations and translations of stories I'm familiar with, and new artist's and their projects. There are even handy indexes, which I refer to far too much. I've been touting these to my friends for 2 years now, so I guess it's the internet's turn. Crime and Mystery is supposed to come out this year! Needless to say, I am stoked!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    The Graphic Canon of Children's Literature is gorgeous. Editor Russ Kick had gathered an astonishing array of talent to create graphic versions of a range of children's stories, everything from "Little Red Riding Hood" to The Time Machine, several of Edward Lear's poems, old children's rhymes, and the Harry Potter series are also included among other splendors. There's an amazing variety of art and story styles here. Do consider the age of the child! The rest of the review with more detail is up The Graphic Canon of Children's Literature is gorgeous. Editor Russ Kick had gathered an astonishing array of talent to create graphic versions of a range of children's stories, everything from "Little Red Riding Hood" to The Time Machine, several of Edward Lear's poems, old children's rhymes, and the Harry Potter series are also included among other splendors. There's an amazing variety of art and story styles here. Do consider the age of the child! The rest of the review with more detail is up on FangirlNation

  10. 5 out of 5

    Stewart Tame

    The Graphic Canon anthologies are always worth reading. Russ Kick has a real talent for putting these together. This one in particular contains some spectacular work--Maëlle Doliveaux' cut paper renditions of four fables by Jean de la Fontaine, for instance. Admittedly, some of these will probably make sense only if you're familiar with the originals, but still a wonderful book, well worth your time.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Iamaby En

    Such a beautiful book...definitely not for young kids as there are some pretty gruesome scenes/interpretations. My favourite was the one for the "Firebird", but I've always been partial to this story. Others of note: -"Little Red Riding Hood" with art by David Tripp -- stark and eerie -"The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" with art by Sanya Glisic -- really like the art style) -"Goldilocks and the Three Bears" with art by Billy Nunez -- love that the story was transplanted to 16th century China! Such a beautiful book...definitely not for young kids as there are some pretty gruesome scenes/interpretations. My favourite was the one for the "Firebird", but I've always been partial to this story. Others of note: -"Little Red Riding Hood" with art by David Tripp -- stark and eerie -"The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" with art by Sanya Glisic -- really like the art style) -"Goldilocks and the Three Bears" with art by Billy Nunez -- love that the story was transplanted to 16th century China! -"Advice to Little Girls" with art by Frank M. Hansen -- because it's funny! -"Alice in Wonderland" with art by Vicki Nerino -- because it's the first time I've ever seen Alice portrayed this way...love it! -"20'000 Leagues Under the Sea" with art by Sandy Jimenez -- love that parts were played by famous musicians

  12. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    A beautiful collection of dozens of classic children's stories rendered in graphic novel format by some of today's top illustrators and comics artists. I enjoyed paging through the variety of artistic styles here, though being a non-creative type could make neither heads nor tails of a few of the more abstract illustrations and would not have known which tale I was reading had I not studiously read each introduction prior to its work. Recommended.

  13. 5 out of 5

    C.r. Comacchio

    I actually bought this for myself, because I'm interested in the history of children's literature; a quick and fascinating way to learn about it. I'm sure my 13 year old grandson will appreciate it too.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Maggi Rohde

    Astonishing, shocking, and rich with secrets — in short, everything one could wish for from an anthology of graphic stories.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Book

    A good reminder how grotesque most kids stories originally were.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Loved it!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Roselyn

    This was so much fun to read! As with the other volumes of the graphic canon, Russ Kick’s thoughtful commentary on each piece provided me with tons of insight into all the works of children’s literature that are considered classics. What I found interesting was that the blurry line between adult and children’s lit always existed; many of these classics started as adult stories. Children’s novels have always been complex with complicated themes and immoral characters; cautionary and informative This was so much fun to read! As with the other volumes of the graphic canon, Russ Kick’s thoughtful commentary on each piece provided me with tons of insight into all the works of children’s literature that are considered classics. What I found interesting was that the blurry line between adult and children’s lit always existed; many of these classics started as adult stories. Children’s novels have always been complex with complicated themes and immoral characters; cautionary and informative tales. The second thing I found interesting was that censorship has been happening since the days of the Grimm brothers, with tales being edited and toned down to suit younger audiences. Over time, gorier parts get removed and long stories abridged. While I do not believe in sheltering children, there are some things that young children don’t need to know about – but it’s a hard line to draw. I take no issue with giving simpler versions of novels to children – so long as it is not sanitized to the point where the message is lost. Life involves pain and loss and sacrifice and it’s important that children experience this. Which bring me to my next point – Disney. Kick’s disdain for Disney is something I completely agree with. Not only did Disney completely sanitize all the fairy tales for children, they also created versions of the characters that remain engraved in the collective consciousness, preventing us from imagining these stories in a different way. Literature is meant to be interpreted in different ways – not not reduced to a single image. Thankfully, the graphic adaptations that fill this volume each showcase the respective work of literature in a new light – a way that makes sense, but hasn’t been done before. Though I didn’t like every artist’s style, I was able to appreciate their re-imaginings of the classics and each pushed me to look at these classic novels in a whole new way. In a lot of ways, this volume was a lot more fun then the other ones because, a) it’s kids lit after all, and b) it was wonderful to return to some childhood favourites. I also knew way more of the stories than in the other three volumes which made following along a lot more satisfying. Recommended to lovers of graphic novels, children’s lit, or those who are interested in getting some interesting commentary and new angles on classics.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Russell Schelby

    The Graphic Canon of Children’s Literature, edited by Russ Kick, is part of a series of presentations of various artists’ takes on classic works of literature. Covering everything from Aesop’s fables to one-page overviews of each book in the Harry Potter series, each artist brings to life a unique perspective of a work ranging from delicate impressionistic watercolors to intricate collage to intentionally crude comic strips. The editor prefaces each work by introducing the story, its history, The Graphic Canon of Children’s Literature, edited by Russ Kick, is part of a series of presentations of various artists’ takes on classic works of literature. Covering everything from Aesop’s fables to one-page overviews of each book in the Harry Potter series, each artist brings to life a unique perspective of a work ranging from delicate impressionistic watercolors to intricate collage to intentionally crude comic strips. The editor prefaces each work by introducing the story, its history, notes about the author, and things to look for from the artist. This overview is very helpful for those uninitiated in these very diverse childrens stories, and usually has something new for those who are familiar with the work. Some of them are powerful and beautiful such as Sanya Gilsic’s illustration of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. Several are clever reimaginings, like Lance Tooks’ interpretation of Aesop’s the City Mouse and the Country Mouse as a Russian gangster and his bumpkin cousin. Many are straightforward illustrations that add flavor to some old favorites; Andrea Tsurumis illustration of the re-taking of Toad Hall from Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows is a great way to enjoy one of my favorite stories. Some of the art left me cold; I don’t enjoy cramped and crabbed comic art, and some of the selections were obliquely trying to push boundaries. One does not expect to go a museum and enjoy every piece equally, but I found overall the art to be almost always thoughtful and meaningful if not delightful. It should be noted that the stories in this compilation are of children’s literature, but frequently would not be deemed appropriate for innocents by today’s standards. Often older, less gentle versions of stories are selected and many of the artists have sharpened the adult edges that they found there. I should think that this book would be a great enjoyment for fairy tale enthusiasts and graphic art fans, a cross-roads that I am happy to inhabit. I will be looking for other titles in this series for new ways to look at familiar stories.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

    Harry Potter fans and Oz fans might like this book the best. This covers a lot of well known children's literature, but this did a perfect job with both the Harry Potter and Oz book series. This covers every Oz book in 14 pages and every Potter book in 7 pages (both showing nearly every character in the series). Like all of the other Graphic Cannons this only features samples of the stories. Yes this features nearly everything for Harry Potter and Oz fans, they left out some stuff that is Harry Potter fans and Oz fans might like this book the best. This covers a lot of well known children's literature, but this did a perfect job with both the Harry Potter and Oz book series. This covers every Oz book in 14 pages and every Potter book in 7 pages (both showing nearly every character in the series). Like all of the other Graphic Cannons this only features samples of the stories. Yes this features nearly everything for Harry Potter and Oz fans, they left out some stuff that is understandable. Also loved the fact they included the Oz books, Harry Potter, the Hardy Boys, Velveteen Rabbit, La Fontaine, Pinocchio (the real version too), Pippi Longstocking, Time Machine, Peter Pan, Wind in the Willow, Watership Down, Alice in Wonderland, and even has a neat gallery that has Babar, Hunger Games, and Winnie the Pooh. For me this book covers a lot of my favorites. More then the other books have done. There are a few (not as many this time) that I did end up not liking as much. Just they didn't really suit my interest. And only a few I didn't care for the art. This book is the best with art though. It's more of an art book then a comic book. I think my favorite section was the Oz books. Loved seeing how they drew all the Oz characters. Made me wish the Marvel comics continued there Oz series. But finally with this I got to see the Patchwork Girl in a comic book. This is also makes me want to read the rest of the Oz books which I have them all and then some. I should note that even though this is about children's literature, this is more for adults. It's for the adults who still read kids books because they refuse to grow up. Reason I'll never stop loving classic children's literature.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Monique

    Thank you, dear brother, for such a great gift. The Graphic Canon of Children's Literature is a beautiful anthology of artists and comic creators taking classic (and not so classic) works of children's fiction and turning them into something more. The variety of styles and voices was amazing. I loved the introduction to each strip. Informative in its backstory of each piece and a bit of insight into each artist. As with every anthology, not all of the work was to my taste. But what I loved about Thank you, dear brother, for such a great gift. The Graphic Canon of Children's Literature is a beautiful anthology of artists and comic creators taking classic (and not so classic) works of children's fiction and turning them into something more. The variety of styles and voices was amazing. I loved the introduction to each strip. Informative in its backstory of each piece and a bit of insight into each artist. As with every anthology, not all of the work was to my taste. But what I loved about it was the huge differences in style, technique, and skill. There really is a bit of something for everyone. I really liked this book and it was a wonderful birthday gift. So thank you Blaze, I proudly place this upon my shelf of great comics (which doesn't actually exist yet, but one day). I also recommend this if you love reading widely and diversely, or just love art.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    Graphic retellings and reimaginings of fairytales, fables, and classic works of children's literature. I really liked the way familiar stories read with a fresh twist (i.e. thinking especially of the treatment of Alice in Wonderland and Little Red Riding Hood, even the Harry Potter and Oz series). There's a nice balance here, and stories are collected from around the world and across time (Aesops fables to Hans Christian Anderson, Brothers Grimm and Harry Potter). An introduction preceding each Graphic retellings and reimaginings of fairytales, fables, and classic works of children's literature. I really liked the way familiar stories read with a fresh twist (i.e. thinking especially of the treatment of Alice in Wonderland and Little Red Riding Hood, even the Harry Potter and Oz series). There's a nice balance here, and stories are collected from around the world and across time (Aesops fables to Hans Christian Anderson, Brothers Grimm and Harry Potter). An introduction preceding each tale helps clue readers into relevant info regarding the author, story, and the artist's approach to the artwork included in this volume. Highly recommended for adult fans of children's literature and graphic novels.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Annette

    Just read, and what a delight to look into a subject I loved as a child a hundred years or so ago. Why is the comic coming back into popularity as the librarian's selection of the year? Simply the format and the type, pictures and wild crazy narratives that young people delight in. Sort of takes the edge off of school and family demands and lets the reader escape. I always like criticism and insight into the world of reading. After too many graduate courses on the professors' selection of what Just read, and what a delight to look into a subject I loved as a child a hundred years or so ago. Why is the comic coming back into popularity as the librarian's selection of the year? Simply the format and the type, pictures and wild crazy narratives that young people delight in. Sort of takes the edge off of school and family demands and lets the reader escape. I always like criticism and insight into the world of reading. After too many graduate courses on the professors' selection of what should be purchased for the school library, this old age look back is wonderful and freeing.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Quiver

    An intriguing, non-standard collection of children's illustration curated for quirkiness, rather than perhaps appeal to children (although for the latter I have no evidence). Certainly with rather grim interpretations and almost scary illustrations in places. Essential reading for any illustrator; fun reading for everyone else.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    It's hard to write a brief review for such an wide-ranging collection of stories from a large number of fairly disparate artists and authors. Some are better than others, some went viral, while others are barely legible. Some are wordless pieces of art, while others are blocks of text artfully arranged. Altogether, the collection is lovingly curated and all-inclusive.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Definitely an adult book (graphic images/nudity), but such a cool cross-section of artists and styles, and a new view of some well-known fables, fairy tales, and stories. The extra edge and grit underscores the often-quoted Maurice Sendak: "I refuse to cater to the bulls**t of innocence."

  26. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Maybe the toughest in the series because many of these books are associated with illustrations, which could be a jumping off point for graphic artists or a distraction. The "cannon" though here seemed less thoughtfully considered than volume 1 and 2.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    A lot of nudity and swearing, despite being in the children's section this is very much not for children. Another case of indifferent art and comics that only work if you have already read the book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Including Anne Frank was a strange choice, and hearing about the "literary merits" of children's books is annoying, but the art is incredible.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Johanna

    probably i am missing the point of this series.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Traci Escher

    Extra dark versions of classic children's lit. The best part for me was reading the editor's introduction to each story, often sharing little known details about the author and time it was published.

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