Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Graphic Universe Myths and Legends from Lerner





These links will take you to hardcover editions, but both are also available in slim paperbacks. We always try to get hardcovers of graphic novels for our library, and often they aren't available, so it was nice to see these offered! If you are just buying for your favorite tenn or tween, however, we suggest the much cheaper paperbacks.

This series includes more than a dozenmyths and legends, some familiar old favorites like Ali baba, others less so, like Sunjata: Warrior King of Mali. There is quite a wide variety of cultures and time periods represented, making this a good starter set for your library. It would even make a good book-of-the-month series (do they still have those?) It isn't offered that way as far as I know, but you could certainly purchase and dole them out one at a time, maybe as a fun part of a home school curriculum. Use them as a springboard for different social studies units.

Marwe, for example, would be a much more interesting introduction to East Africa than a map of principal exports! In this legend, a young woman with a good heart makes a mistake, and ends up in the land of the dead. Because she is so kind and hard-working (two themes hit hard through the short story), she earns favor with everyone there, and eventually returns home years later, beautiful and wealthy.

Her hope that "I will be able to find a suitable husband, then everything will be perfect" may make us cringe at first, but it is a great discussion starter. She ends up marrying a man who is not as handsome as the others, but who is also a hard worker with a kind heart (told you that was hit hard!)

In addition to moral and cultural lessons that would be easy to expand on, there are references to languages, Mount Kilimanjaro, wildlife, and agriculture. It almost makes us want to grab a random teen and start planning activities! Pigling, a Korean version of the Cinderella story, is much the same. Both have notes at the front detailing some of the research and fact checking that went into creating that particular book. We will probably be recommending this series to those parents who come in trailing bored-looking middle schoolers, saying "I've decided to home school - now what do I do???"

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