I’m so glad my daughter’s recent Rapunzel kick pushed me to check this one out – I’d been meaning to read it since it first came out.
Speaking of graphic novels, my family all went out to the last day of Kids Read Comics at the Ann Arbor District Library. Such fun! We didn’t make it to any of the workshops this time, but my son had a lot of fun at one of the quick-draw sessions, and we went to the Kids Choice Comics Award ceremony, presided over by Kids Read Comic’s own Jerzy Drozd as well as Matt Holm of Babymouse and Squish fame. I love how the awards mix in more expected things like “best licensed property” and “best comic/novel hybrid” with wacky things like “best hair” and “grossest moment”, all with Lego minifig trophies. But you should totally go to the web site and look at all the awards! (As of right this minute, only the ballot with the shortlist are posted, but hopefully the results will be up soon, and shortlists are always well worth looking at!)
Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale. Illustrated by Nathan Hale. Bloomsbury, 2008.
Newbery-award winning author and personal favorite Shannon Hale paired with her husband Dean Hale and the unrelated graphic novel Nathan Hale (of the Hazardous Tales series) to write this action-packed Rapunzel set in the Old West. Rapunzel has grown up inside the lush walls of Dame Gothel’s compound, calling Gothel mother. Then she gets old enough to climb up the high walls, and sees the desolation outside, with starving mine workers lined up for small amounts of food and water. She realizes that her own real mother is one of them. Naturally, being 12, her first thought is to tell off Dame Gothel in person – which gets her trapped in a tree in a faraway swamp. Once she escapes, years later, her desire for revenge and a reunion with her mother is even greater. She teams up with a rascal named Jack (who looks to be of Latino heritage), spreading mayhem and accidentally getting outlawed (at least on Rapunzel’s part) on the way.
So! Much! Fun! Rapunzel uses her braids to good advantage, and she and Jack have lots of adventures on their way to the big confrontation with Dame Gothel. It’s filled both with realistic people of the old West from sheriffs and wealthy ranchers to the residents of small Native American villages struggling to make a living on the edges of land sucked dry by Mother Gothel’s magic, as well as mythological creatures like the jackalope. I started reading this aloud to both my kids. Nathan Hale’s straightforward illustration style does a great job of conveying action and expression, with plenty of pictures breaking out of the regular grid to add to the excitement. My four-year-old liked it, but doesn’t quite have the attention span for longer books yet – we got almost to the end in several reading sessions. My nine-year-old, on the other hand, took it away and read it straight through to himself. Which reminds me that I need to bring him the sequel, Calamity Jack.