Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Odyssey

Hinds, Gareth. 2010. THE ODYSSEY. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick. ISBN 9780763642686 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

Gareth Hinds has already earned his stripes with his successful graphic novel adaptations of BEOWULF (2007) and KING LEAR (2009). In his take on Homer’s epic poem THE ODYSSEY, Hinds takes readers through Odysseus’ harrowing twenty year journey home from the Trojan War. Complete with the witch Circe and the passage between Charybdis and Scylla, Hinds’ adaptation also includes lengthy and sophisticated dialogue. In the notes, Hinds credits several translations of the classic poem that inspired him and cites near-direct quotes he used as character dialogue. When the old nurse recognizes the lost king, she eloquently remarks, “Stranger, of all the travelers who’ve come to our door, none was so much like our master, Odysseus.”

Richly hued watercolor illustrations give the story a greater texture and artistry than many graphic novels achieve and give scale to the legendary trials that Odysseus faces. The artistry adds as much softness to a portrait of a weak Odysseus asleep in the woods as it does harshness to the bloodbath that ensues upon Odysseus’ homecoming. Hinds’ artwork conveys a gritty, action-packed story without being overly crude or gross. Middle and high school readers will devour the action and emotion in every panel.

Have readers compare Hinds’ adaptation to the graphic novel adaptation of THE ODYSSEY by Tim Mucci (ISBN 9781402731556) to the original work by Homer, or to a film adaptation such as the 1997 made for TV film starring Armand Assante. Have readers analyze how Odysseus’ actions and trials are visually interpreted in different ways.

Other graphic novel adaptations of classics by Gareth Hinds:
BEOWULF. ISBN 9780763630232
KING LEAR. ISBN 9780763643447

By Cecily Ponce de Leon

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