Rapunzel's Revenge & Calamity Jack

Okay, probably the coolest thing about working in the Library is ALL THE BOOKS. (What? You honestly thought I'd have something non-book related to say?) Between checking out and shelving and just generally handling all kinds of books, and reading for the YA book blog me and the other Teen Services librarian have created, I'm starting to contemplate stretching my reading boundaries somewhat. Nothing too drastic (I won't be taking up some of the recommendations patrons make, because some things I just won't read. But that's a tangent for another day.), but just a little expansion. Like graphic novels. They're hugely popular with the few teen-types who come in, and even some of the adults. But why? I decided to find out ... but started easy: a familiar author's graphic take on a fairy tale.

Rapunzel's Revenge
Shannon Hale & Co.
Bloomsbury, 2008

Most of us are familiar with the story of Rapunzel, but Hale makes some slight adjustments to the story in this graphic novel presentation. "Punzie," as Jack (the scoundrel she picks up along the way) calls her, is a little feisty. And she can do tricks with her long braids, tricks which earn her respect along the journey to save her real mother from Mother Gothel. You see, our Rapunzel tale is set in a sort of Wild West-type environment, complete with misadventures, bandits and oddball creatures. And Rapunzel, bless her heart, she's not just feisty, she has a heart of solid gold and a sense of justice that won't let her turn a blind eye. So of course she picks up a certified hooligan as a sidekick, and of course she manages to charm her  way to success. But there's hard work and a few tricks and twists too. It's a rollickin' good read, and I appreciated the change of pace resulting from Rapunzel being a "Wild West girl". I also thoroughly enjoyed Jack, and detected so much more to his story ... you know, beyond that stunning last panel of the novel.

Book provided by my local library.

Calamity Jack
Shannon Hale & Co.
Bloomsbury, 2010?

Jack and Rapunzel are back! Whee doggie! (Sorry, I had to). We begin their next adventure with a journey back in time, learning the truth about Jack's shadowed past. And oh, what a scoundrel that boy is - but he has a heart of gold of his own, and has decided that it's time to go home and make things right. Rapunzel, of course, accompanies him on this journey of redemption. The pair quickly find themselves in the middle of a strange, strange situation. With side-switching fairies and dictatorial giants and super creepy "Ant People," it's not a tale for the faint of heart. But Jack and Rapunzel find an unexpected friend and ally (the handsome, brilliant, inventive and incredibly wealthy Freddy), and soon things are whizzing to a conclusion that will test the hearts of all involved. Jack has to decide once and for all what kind of man he is - and if he's willing to do what it takes to secure the heart of the Lady Fair.

Book provided by my local library.

Conclusion: I found myself enjoying the graphic novel presentation better than I expected. I'm a text-oriented girl, but the illustrations were fun. There were so many details tucked in, and I loved the facial expressions on Rapunzel and Jack throughout both books. It adds a necessary layer, since the actual "text" is not what one would consider "novel length". Fun, easy reads with a lot of creative handling of familiar tales. Not a bad way to start this whole graphic novel experiment ... Maybe I'll try The Hobbit next.

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