Monday, November 02, 2009
More Graphic Novels
I was in my favorite library last week, and what do I see on their new book shelf, but another Ottoline. I thought, What the heck, Gail. Give the series another shot. And that's how I came to read Ottoline Goes to School by Chris Riddell. I liked this Ottoline better than the first. It has a little more substance, what with Ottoline being attracted to a new friend and Mr. Munroe (whatever he is) feeling left out. The new friend is interesting because she is both upper class snotty and sympathetic at the same time.
The Ottoline books, this one in particular, use a lot of oddball names and situations, which always annoy me in a children's book. This one is so lovely looking, though, and the basic story good enough, that I was able to turn a blind eye toward all the Orvillises and Wilburtas. Plus, Riddell is British, and I should try to show compassion toward the British because no doubt they are still suffering from all those years of Monty Python's influence. That can't be a good thing.
I've also just read To Dance: A Ballerina's Graphic Novel, which is not a novel at all but a memoir by Siena Cherson Siegel, illustrated by Mark Siegel. Because To Dance is a graphic...I hate to say "novel" when it so clearly isn't...written for young readers, I was able to read it quickly. And reading it quickly made me feel immersed in Cherson Siegel's young life as a ballet student. It definitely made me feel that having such a strong vocation so young must be very special. Maybe it's not, of course. Maybe a lot of kids lose their youths to studying for a vocation. But that's not the feeling I came away with from To Dance.
Cherson Siegel writes about reading A Very Young Dancer by Jill Krementz. I wondered if her own book would end up being another generation's A Very Young Dancer?
I have only one reservation about this book. Though not a ballet fan, by any means, I recognize many of the dance names of the period when Cherson Siegel was studying ballet--Balanchine, Baryshnikov, Suzanne Farrell, etc. I think it's unlikely child readers will know those names, and I'm not sure how that will affect their enjoyment of the book. On the other hand, the fact that dance is visual and this memoir is written in a graphic format may mean that child readers can see who these people were and having previous knowledge of them won't matter.