Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Review: Calamity Jack

Summary: A sequel to the highly acclaimed Rapunzel's Revenge, team Hale has delivered an all-new, hilarious tall tale about Jack, his beanstalk…and his best-friend-with-wicked-braids, Rapunzel.

Jack likes to think of himself as a criminal mastermind…with an unfortunate amount of bad luck. A schemer, plotter, planner, trickster, swindler…maybe even thief? One fine day Jack picks a target a little more giant than the usual, and one little bean turns into a great big building-destroying beanstalk.

With help from Rapunzel (and her trusty braids), a pixie from Jack's past, and a man with inventions from the future, they just might out-swindle the evil giants and put his beloved city back in the hands of good people ….while catapulting themselves and readers into another fantastical adventure. -- Bloomsbury

I currently am not a huge reader of graphic novels, but I can tell that times are changing. I have read a few in the past year or so, and I definitely like this new-to-me format for telling stories. My daughter hasn't really read many of them yet, but she has enjoyed a few recently. However, my five year old son is another story -- he totally loves them! He already looks at them by himself (even though he can't read yet), and he will have me read the same ones over and over again to him!

So when I found out that Shannon Hale (yes that Shannon Hale!) and her husband Dean Hale are writing a series of graphic novels about fairy tale characters, I knew I wanted to check them out! Like most of you, I am familiar with some of Shannon Hale's books, and I've always been very impressed. I admit to being more than a little curious about her latest one CALAMITY JACK since it's definitely a departure from her earlier novels. CALAMITY JACK is a re-telling of the classic story Jack and the Bean Stalk in a graphic novel form!

I thoroughly enjoyed CALAMITY JACK, and I think middle graders are going to really like it too. I think young boys will especially find it appealing, and even reluctant readers are going to appreciate the story and format of the book. I liked how the book was filled with action and adventure (and even a little romance - -but not too much for the boys!) I loved how the authors managed to incorporate the basic story of Jack and the Bean Stalk that we all know from our childhoods and enhance the story into a full scale (and very entertaining) graphic novel. There was the classic good versus evil, and there was also a great deal of humor!

CALAMITY JACK is illustrated by Nathan Hale. I thought his drawings were awesome and definitely enhanced the story. I'm not quite sure how the writing process works with two authors and an illustrator, but I am totally impressed with their collaboration. My ARC was in black and white and I still enjoyed the pictures, so I can only imagine how great the final copy will be with full-color throughout.

CALAMITY JACK is the second graphic novel that the Hales have written. The first being RAPUNZEL'S REVENGE. I think CALAMITY JACK could be read as a stand-alone (I did and liked it), but I really wish I had read RAPUNZEL'S REVENGE first. There were a few characters and references to the prior graphic novel, and I think I would have appreciated CALAMITY JACK even more if I had caught all of these references.

I definitely recommend CALAMITY JACK to middle grade readers. I think this classic tale with a twist will be especially appealing to youngsters since it is also in a very fun-to-read format!

Make sure you check out these other stops on the tour:

My Own Little Corner of the World
Book Blather
Book Crumbs
Abby (the) Librarian
Dolce Bellezza
The Book Cellar
Carrie’s YA Bookshelf
Bookshelf Monstrosity
Everyday Reading
Frenetic Reader
Sally Apokedak
Reading is my Superpower
Through the Looking Glass Book Review
Cafe of Dreams
Becky’s Book Reviews
The Hungry Readers
The Friendly Book Nook
Maw Books

Thanks to Kidz Book Buzz for giving me the opportunity to participate in this tour.


bermudaonion said...

You're probably right about boys enjoying this. When I was growing up (don't I sound old now?) comic books were the domain of boys. I think graphic novels are the new comic books. Great review!

Sandy Nawrot said...

WEll, I signed up for the Graphic Novel Challenge, so why not? Did you see Natasha's videos of the Hale's launch party? OMG, hilarious. Those two are something else.

Anonymous said...

We loved Rapunzel's Revenge. I'll have to keep an eye out for this one.

Beth F said...

I've been curious about this one. I'll have to take a look and then pass it on to my young nephews.