So it’s confession time people. Brace yourselves. *cue dramatic music*

I have never read a graphic novel.

I know, I know! You’d think given how fabulously cool and up on trends in YA books I am (cough, cough…) that I would have been all over the graphic novel thing years and years ago.

Epic fail on my part.

Now I did grow up reading as many of these bad boys as I could get my hands on.

Cover art for an 'Archie' comic book Limited funds and smart parenting meant that I was pretty much restricted to what I could borrow from friends, but this allowed me to complete university without massive debt… so I suppose I should not be too bitter. Vintage 'Spiderman' comic book coverAnd there was some access to older copies of the classic comics, like Batman and Spiderman kicking around in my childhood too. So it’s not like I haven’t had access to the graphic format… honest!

But as for actually reading a graphic novel… nope. I remember, when a library that I worked in started adding them to the collection, being very confused as to why you started reading some of them from what we in the West consider to be the back of the book. This just really threw me for a loop. Apparently this is not hard to do. 🙂 This didn’t prompt me to read one though.

So I decided, in the interest of this blog and dragging myself into the 21 Century, to read a graphic novel. Not a whole lot of thought went into the selection… mostly because the 1st Scott Pilgrim was out and I didn’t recognize anything else on the shelf. (Clearly I did a lot of research before embarking on this journey. lol) But my fingers found me a wee gem, so I am happy to report my mission a success. 🙂

To further set the stage for this week’s book, I’m just going to share a classic video. I love fairy tales, but I also love when they get twisted up. The True Story of The Three Little Pigs or The Stinky Cheese Man (both found here) are excellent examples of what I’m talking about. 🙂

Like I said, here’s the wee video:

And now, our book!

Book cover of Castle Waiting by Linda Medley

Castle Waiting by Linda Medley

Summary:

It starts with the story of Sleeping Beauty you guys, do you really need me to retell that old yarn for you??? And then it changes into another crazy fairy tale… but I don’t do spoilers (or I really really try not to… ) so you’re not getting a summary. Sorry ’bout your luck. 😀

Review:

I know nothing about graphic novels, like I’ve already said. So I am really not qualified to comment on anything. That said, I have an opinion about pretty much everything, and that is what I’m going to share. 😉

While in library school last year I rediscovered a love for picture books. I understand why we move away from reading picture books when we are children. They are seen to be for young children, and are often written without too much depth or with heavy-handed messages that are just too shallow or preachy for older children. Also, we see books with fewer pictures being read by our parents, older siblings or other more grown up people, and since we generally want to be like them, this is what we aspire to. But I think that we should all return to picture books before we become parents. Well before this in fact. Graphic novels are a wonderful gateway for this to start happening more and more because they can be produced for every age group, not just teens.

So like I said, Castle Waiting starts with the story of Sleeping Beauty. It’s a pretty well known fairy tale and this book sticks true to the story as I remember it until the very end. Then things take off at a bit of a right angle to the traditional ‘happy ending’ we all know as standard for Western fairy tales. (Often the original fairy tale is not so kind as the Disney-fied version we’re all so used to. Grab yourself a book of Brothers Grimm tales and you’ll see what I mean.) The focus leaves Sleeping Beauty, now awake and with her ‘one true love‘ the Prince, and stays on the castle where she had been asleep for 100 years.The castle becomes host to all sorts of odd creatures and gains a reputation as a place for those without homes to find peace along their journeys.

I really liked some of the story arcs that began in Castle Waiting. (My research has told me that there is a 2nd book, and I’m seeing if we can’t get it for our collection as it would be nice to know where this all ends up.) And I also really enjoyed the story being told in pictures. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’ll ever move away from all-text books completely, but it really felt different reading a book that engaged more than just the part of my brain that makes sense of words. I felt like I was using more of my brain to read, if that makes any sense. Also, it seemed to me that I was able to read the book faster than I would normally. I would bet that this is because we can understand pictures faster than we can read and comprehend words, so being able to both see the story in pictures and only have to read the dialogue made things move along much faster than normal. (If you don’t love words, maybe graphic novels are the format for you?)

The only thing I didn’t really get into in Castle Waiting was the way some of the characters were depicted. And this is where the graphic format lost me a little. With text, I can imagine a character looks how I want them too look. Generally the author has given a descripton of them, but if I don’t agree totally with their verbal summation of the character’s looks I can change my mental picture. With grahpic novels, there is no changing what you’re seeing. Unless of course you try to read with your eyes closed (very difficult) or get out the sharpie (*Please note, this is totally not advisable with library books. We make you pay for them if you sharpie them up, drop them in the bath or otherwise deface them. Just fyi.*). And unfortunately for me and Castle Waiting’s relationship, I didn’t like how some of the characters were drawn. Just a little too far from reality for my tastes. Or maybe too far from Disney’s reality. Damn Disney. 😉 But like I said, this was the only issue that I had with the book. Otherwise I think it’s a pretty cool reimagining of what happens after a fairy tale ends and the princess and her ‘true love’ move on with their lives. 🙂 You might want to check this out!

Rating:3 of 5 star rating

I think this book is a totally solid way to enter into the world of graphic novels. If you’re like I was and are looking for a way in, what better way to get familliar with the format than by taking a well loved fairy tale for a spin? Just mind the bearded ladies ok? 🙂 (Yes, that’s an inside joke. Read the book if you want to get it!)

How to get this book:

  1. book

And in celebration of the graphic way of telling stories, I’d like to share with you some of my fondest graphic formatted things. 🙂

Calvin and Hobbes:

Calvin - young boy- making strange faces

And Zits:

Enjoy!!