Graphic Novels by Stone Arch Books

You know I love my fairy tales. I was checking the library website one night for any versions of "Thumbelina" that I might have missed, when I came across this very cute graphic novel. I placed a hold on it right away, of course.

Hans Christian Andersen's Thumbelina, retold by Martin Powell,
illustrated by Sarah Horne. Stone Arch Books, 2010.

Little Sis read it aloud to me. It was both true to the original tale and decidedly modern in tone, a very fun take on a classic tale.

I was pleased to find a glossary and blurb about Hans Christian Andersen after the story. There were discussion questions and writing prompts at the back of the book, too. Stone Arch Books is a division of Capstone, which specializing in educational books and resources for kids. I was impressed enough to go digging for similar books. The series of fairy tales and folk stories is called Graphic Spin. As it turned out, our library had quite a few on hand!

Rapunzel by the Brothers Grimm, retold by Stephanie Peters,
illustrated by Jeffrey Stewart Timmins. Stone Arch Books, 2009.

I adored the illustrations in Rapunzel. The witch looks like some sort of Tim Burton spider creature, and the humans remind me of slightly deranged Joan Walsh Anglund children. By the way, this version is true to the original Grimm, in that Rapunzel gives birth to twins after she's banished by the witch. This confused my littlest, because this Rapunzel looks so young! "But she looks like a little girl! How did she have babies? When did they get married? Did they get married?" So um, be prepared for questions, if you have a very inquisitive child like mine...

The Elves and the Shoemaker by the Brothers Grimm,
retold by Martin Powell, illustrated by Pedro Rodriguez.
Stone Arch Books, 2011.

I love the goblin-like elves! Pedro Rodriguez is the illustrator of one of our favorite Halloween books, A Vampire is Coming to Dinner. [Ooo, I never blogged about that one!] There's a cute history of the Brothers Grimm at the back.

Jack and the Beanstalk, retold by Blake A. Hoena,
illustrated by Ricardo Tercio. Stone Arch Books, 2009.

I enjoyed the history of this fairy tale, after the story had ended. There are quite a few different versions, and while Hoena based his retelling on one version, he deviated a bit. I love the attention to detail in these books.

There are more than fairy tales, too! Alice in Wonderland, for example, is part of their Graphic Revolve series of Classic Fiction graphic novels.

Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, retold by Martin Powell,
illustrated by Daniel Perez. Stone Arch Books, 2010.

Obviously, Alice is simplified here, but it's a fun retelling, full of trippy images.

There is even a series of graphic novels based on the plays of William Shakespeare! I checked out my favorite play-as-comic book.

Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, retold by Nel Yomtov,
illustrated by Berenice Muñiz. Stone Arch Books, 2012.

I was excited to see the play-within-a-play in the book. The "Pyramus and Thisbe" bit in the last act is one of the best parts!

Anyway, if you spend any time searching the website, you will see there are a ton of these books, fiction and nonfiction alike, and we've really enjoyed what we've read so far. Besides boasting some cool illustrations, they stayed pretty faithful to the source material, while being fun and easy to follow. A lot of thought was put into the extras, as well: the glossaries, histories, author biographies, etc.

We checked our copies out from the library, but Capstone lists most of these for sale on their website for only $4.99 each. I may be doing some shopping later.

[For the record: no one from Capstone approached me about this post. I found these books on my own, and I'm posting about them on my own. That's how I roll, folks. If I like something, I share it.]

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The Rest of What We Read for Women's History Month

It's the last day of March, which means the end of another Women's History Month. I only have three more books to share today. They were the last in the bag, and didn't really fit into a neat theme like the books in my previous posts. They are a grab bag assortment: a scientist/artist, a nurse, and a Holocaust survivor.

Summer Birds: The Butterflies of Maria Merien
by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Julie Paschkis.
Henry Holt & Company, 2010.
 "Summer birds," we learn at the beginning of this book, "was a medieval name for the mysterious butterflies and moths that appeared suddenly during warm weather and vanished in the fall." We meet 13-year-old Maria Merien, who disagrees with the medieval theory that butterflies appear magically from the mud. She sets out to capture the insects, secretly, so that no one will accuse her of witchcraft. She keeps them in boxes and jars, watching and studying them. She sees the caterpillars eat and spin cocoons, turning into "summer birds," which means the grown-ups are wrong. They are not born of mud. She paints beautiful pictures of the insects at each stage of life, filling her notebooks with data. Her studies expand to tadpoles and frogs. She hopes to someday publish a book of her paintings. The historical note at the end explains that Merien became a famous scientist, artist, and explorer. Considering she was born in 1647, she led an amazing, adventurous life!

The story is told in the first person, which makes it a bit easier for a kiddo to identify with Maria. Paschkis's illustrations are exquisite.

 Here is a lecture from East Tennessee University about Maria Merien's nature paintings.

Florence Nightingale by Demi.
Henry Holt & Company, 2014.
This is a straightforward biography of Florence Nightingale, famous Crimean War nurse. As a child, her parents threw lavish parties, but Florence preferred to play by herself. She would imagine running a hospital, talking care of her sick dolls. As a teenager, her family traveled through Europe, but Florence was always distracted by the poor and the sick, keeping detailed lists of hospitals and charities. She was religious, and believed that God was calling her to be a nurse, but her parents were against it. She visited orphanages and hospitals, learning about hygiene and medicine. She won out over her parents, and became a superintendent of a hospital for poor women. She trained her nurses well, then after a year, was asked to lead a group of nurses to the military hospital in Scutari, Turkey. She worked to improve the food of the patients and to get more supplies. She became known as the Lady with the Lamp. When the war ended, she presented reports to the British government on how to improve medical care, and a commission was formed to implement those changes. Despite her own illness, she never stopped working for improvements in medical care, eventually starting a school, the Nightingale Training School for Nurses. She continued to work for the care of London's poorest, and became involved with the Red Cross.

The text is easier to follow. I love Demi's paintings, which remind me of stained glass.

Here is a mini-biographical video by Bio.

Luba: The Angel of Bergen-Belsen, as told to
Michelle R. McCann by Luba Tryszynska-Frederick,
illustrated by Ann Marshall.
Tricycle Press, 2003.

This picture book begins with an author's note and prologue, explaining that the people in this story are real (including a list of "the Diamond Children") and a bit of the background of the Nazi concentration camps. We then meet Luba, lying in a new camp, sure she is hearing her son calling for her. She sits up, realizing she does hear children. She rushes outside to find 54 children, including babies, huddled in the snow. They had been dumped there at Bergen-Belsen, separated from their parents. Luba had lost her own family, including her son. She wondered why she'd been spared. Meeting these children, she thinks she knows the answer. She brings the children into her own crowded quarters. She works hard to protect the new children. As a camp nurse, she has a bit more freedom, and her long sleeve cover the tattoo marking her as a Jew, so she is able to walk to the kitchen area twice a day for food. She convinces guards' wives to give her extra clothes and blankets, and collects scraps of wood for the stove after dark. One day, the children surprise her with birthday gifts. Just as things begin to grow desperate, British soldiers arrive to liberate the camp. Because of Luba's bravery and generosity, 52 of the 54 "Diamond Children" survived through the end of the war.

Holocaust books for children are tricky. It's such a terrifying subject matter. This one manages to strike just the right balance, and Marshall's paintings are beautiful and haunting.

Here is an old Dateline NBC story I found about Luba Tryszynska-Frederick.

Thanks for celebrating strong women in history with us this month!

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