My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I don’t get too many opportunities to read graphic novels but when I do, I enjoy the experience a great deal. They fascinate me because they challenge the reader to pay close attention to the unspoken details that unfold before their eyes in the illustrations. When done right, you don’t need a great deal of dialogue to tell a good story. In that regard, Matt Phelan delivers a visually spectacular rendering of Snow White, with a historical twist, told against the backdrop of a pre-Depression era New York City.
In Matt Phelan’s re-telling, Snow White is a little girl named Samantha. She’d lost her mother to an illness that consumed her long ago. Her deplorable stepmother, green with envy towards Samantha because of the way her father treasures her, sends her off to boarding school. And when it becomes clear that she’s nothing left to gain from him, she realizes that daddy dearest is far more valuable dead than he is alive. With an amended will, Samantha stands to receive the greatest inheritance, rendering her stepmother all the more jealous, leaving Samantha with no choice but to run and hide or face the same fate as her father.
I’d never read anything by Matt Phelan before. I stumbled upon this book while browsing the stacks at my local public library. I was actually searching for Marvel comics in the teen section when I found this one and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. I liked that it was set in the late 1920s. I liked the solemn feel of the era as depicted in Phelan’s illustrations exquisitely crafted with pencil and ink. I especially admired the Seven. I wanted to hug them and give them a home. They were brave and heroic and while in all appearance a little rough around the edges, they loved Samantha and wanted to protect her with everything that was in them. Chivalry is not dead.
I agree with the School Library Journal’s noted grade level range on Amazon as 4th through 8th grade and because of its complexity, would count this more as an upper middle grade read that would also interest high school students.
Matt Phelan | http://www.mattphelan.com/
Candlewick Press | http://candlewick.com/