Saturday, January 12, 2013

Amulet Review

Book talk:  When Emily's family moved to a decrepit house in the middle of nowhere she knew her old life was over.  But she never expected that a new life full of danger and excitement was about to begin.  While exploring the house, she discovers a mysterious amulet.  It gives her more power than she ever dreamt of having, but it comes at a cost.  Now she's stuck in a strange new world where she's expected to use that power to prevent the evil elf king from taking over.  The fate of her family and both her worlds is in her hands.  But is she strong enough to wield the amulet without falling prey to it herself?

Rocks my socks:  My students have been raving about this series for years and I can see why.  Kibuishi's world-building is intricate and engrossing but it's slowly revealed so that it doesn't bog the reader down with exposition at the beginning.  Like with Copper, his artwork is beautiful and his use of color helps create the perfect atmosphere for each scene.  His imaginative landscapes are populated by a diverse cast of characters that are thoughtfully portrayed and nuanced.  There's humans, elves, sentient robots, talking trees, and humans that have caught a disease that makes them look like animals (one of my favorites is a bounty hunter fox that reminds me of the Disney Robin Hood.)  The protagonists are good but not perfect and the villains are frightening but not entirely evil.  The question of who is good and who is evil is constantly being examined as characters betray and save each other and their motivations are revealed.  The main character is a girl who is incredibly powerful and an excellent role model as she struggles to wield that power for good and not let it overtake her.  Her younger brother finds his own way to shine instead of the tired sibling rivalry dynamic.  Even more rare: Kibuishi does not fall into the Useless Adult Syndrome trap so common in juvenile fiction and instead comes up with believable reasons why these children are drawn into the fight and creates adult characters that attempt to help and defend them, including their mother.  The series only gets better as it progresses and the world and character building continues allowing it to explore deeper questions.

Rocks in my socks: absolutely nothing

Every book its reader:  I hardly need to recommend this to my students as I can barely keep it on the shelves.  I absolutely love this series and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone of any age, but fans of fantasy comics, strong female characters, narratives with meat to them, and layered characterization will be particularly likely to enjoy this series.  Third grade and up.

Scholastic has an interactive page for the book where you can ask characters questions and make them dance in a conga line.

You can find Kazu Kibuishi at Bolt City where you can read his blog, find out more about his projects, and read the excellent web comic Copper

You can find a trailer for Amulet book one on YouTube that includes a mini tour of his studio, as well as a longer tour of his studio, a great animated trailer for book four that also serves well as a general introduction to the series, and more if you search for Kazu Kibuishi

Source: school library

Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi:  Buy it or check it out today!

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