Monday, May 14, 2012

The Kite Runner Graphic Novel

The Kite Runner is a powerful story about the friendship between Amir and Hassan, two very different boys, growing up together in Kabul in the 1970s.  Hassan was the son of Amir’s father’s servant.  Even though he was illiterate and poor, Hassan was a true best friend to Amir.And he was an amazing kite runner.   He always defended Amir, encouraged him and never resented his family’s wealth and position in society.  But when something horrible happens to Hassan, Amir turns his back on his friend.

The Kite Runner has touched millions of readers through its story of two boyhood friends torn apart by situation and war.   The original novel is such a deep exploration of loyalty, betrayal, and redemption , that I really wondered if this format would work. 

 I think this adaptation makes it more accessible for struggling readers, and it does cover all of the important pieces of the plot.  Even though there isn’t enough room to really illustrate the depth of the characters, the framework for discussion is there.  I read the original story and loved it.  This graphic novel reminded me about all of the parts I loved in the novel.  And I really liked the illustrations. 
I think this graphic novel deserves a place in all high school libraries.

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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Blank Confession

Shayne Blank walks into the police station and confesses to having killed someone.  How could this quiet, unassuming new kid in town be a murderer? The other kids don't understand him. He's not afraid of anything. He seems too smart. And his background doesn't add up.
This is a compelling mystery from the National Book Award winner Pete Hautman.  As I was reading this novel, I couldn’t help think about Robert Cormier’s Rag and Bone Shop.  In Rag and Bone, a young girl was murdered, and the town brought in a high profile, ambitious interrogator who had a perfect record in getting confessions from criminals.  In Pete Hautman’s “Blank Confession”, the confession comes voluntarily from Shayne, who tells his story to Detective Rawls, a tired detective who has his own baggage.  

There are so many good themes explored in this short novel – bullying, drug dealers, self-esteem and truth.  The story alternates between the detective’s point of view and Mikey’s point of view.  Mikey is the smallest kid in his class. He’s a suit-wearing grade eleven student, who is always bullied, and who Shayne ends up defending.  Mikey’s sister hangs out with a tough crowd, and when one of her friends gives Mikey a bag of drugs for safekeeping, Mikey throws it away.  And that’s when the trouble starts.  

This is a great page-turner and a quick read.  Intermediate students will enjoy the richly drawn characters, and the twists and turns in this fast-paced murder mystery.

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