Monday, January 28, 2013

The Storm in the Barn for MMGM

I'm writing and posting this before the Caldecott and Newbery awards are announced, so I can't talk about them, darn it all. Guess that's what Twitter is for...

Instead, I want to talk about another kind of award-winner. And it's something I rarely read: a graphic novel.



The Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan (Candlewick Press, 2009, for ages 10 and up; Winner of the Scott O'Dell award for historical fiction)

Source: paperback purchased last summer from local bookstore (which, sadly, is now closed)

Synopsis (from Indiebound): In Kansas in the year 1937, eleven-year-old Jack Clark faces his share of ordinary challenges: local bullies, his father’s failed expectations, a little sister with an eye for trouble. But he also has to deal with the effects of the Dust Bowl, including rising tensions in his small town and the spread of a shadowy illness. Certainly a case of "dust dementia" would explain who (or what) Jack has glimpsed in the Talbot’s abandoned barn — a sinister figure with a face like rain. In a land where it never rains, it’s hard to trust what you see with your own eyes — and harder still to take heart and be a hero when the time comes. 

Why I liked it: Well, it's certainly not just because Matt Phelan autographed it last summer when he visited the bookstore, and drew me a little picture of Jack in his cap! I normally shy away from graphic novels, but this one is compelling. It's a fascinating combination of historical fiction and fantasy. That sinister figure in the barn turns out to be something otherworldly. Phelan's imagination soars in this beautifully-illustrated book.

Do you like graphic novels?  Which ones have you (or your kids) read?

MMGM is the brainchild of Shannon Messenger.  Check her blog for the links, or see my sidebar.

17 comments:

  1. Hey...I don't read a lot of graphic novels, but the ones I have I have loved. Bones (Jeff Smith) and some of Neil Gaimen's Sandman. I love love the cover of this one and the sound of it.

    Have you read DUST by Arthur Slade? It's set during the depression and about a boy who's brother goes missing after the arrival of a mysterious man . All the town seems to forget about the missing boy--all except his brother.

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    1. I have read DUST, Deb! Many years ago. Never thought of the similarities, though. Good thinking.

      A few minutes ago, the Newbery winner for 2013 was announced: THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN! Yay!

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  2. I've only recently started to appreciate graphic novels, and I really want to read this one! Matt Phelan has a wonderful style.

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    1. Yes, he does, Faith! Hope you get a chance to read it.

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  3. Graphic novels usually aren't my thing either, but what a combination -- historical and fantasy. How interesting.

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    1. It certainly sounds like an odd combination, but it works!

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  4. It sounds like a great combination-history and fantasy. I'm just reading one or two historical novels and found I like them. Thanks for sharing this. Sad about your bookstore.

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    1. Indie bookstores are really struggling, Natalie. They plan to reopen in a few months as a much smaller store, so who knows if that will last. I just read that B&N is going to be closing 200 stores over the next few years, so even the chains have trouble against the mammoth that is Amazon.

      Glad you're liking the historical novels you're reading.

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  5. I love graphic novels but I'm sad to say that I haven't read any in quite a while. :(
    Too busy reading middle grade novels to learn the writing craft.
    I hope my library has a copy of this. I really would love to read it.

    ~Akoss

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  6. Wow, this sounds like a good read. I haven't really read any graphic novels, maybe I will start with this one! :)

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    1. Seems like a great place to start, Jennifer!

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  7. I have read quite a few graphic novels and enjoyed them. I especially like Neil Gaiman's graphic novels (though they are for an older crowd). This book sounds excellent for the MG crowd and I definitely want to read it. Thanks for sharing.
    ~Jess

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    1. Neil Gaiman is a terrific writer, but I've only read some of his novels (Graveyard Book, Coraline) and picture books. I really should read one of his graphic novels.

      Thanks for stopping by, Jess.

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  8. I haven't read any graphic novels, but this one does sound interesting. I love historical fiction and this time period fascinates me.

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  9. I haven't read too many graphic novels but my favorite is Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller, by Joseph Lambert. Very cool how the author/illustrator shows Helen grasping language for the first time.

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    1. Oh, I'd love to read that! Thanks for the recommendation, Susan.

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