In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Graphic novel as first-person historical text

Dear Aunt Debbie,

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers: yet another book I need to check out.  And perhaps a good way to introduce the subject of September 11th to my kids, before they're old enough for me to have the real conversation about it, and eventually explain where their parents were on that day.

Before we leave the subject of the graphic novel, I wanted to mention one more that I adore: Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, by Marjane Satrapi.  Satrapi was born in Iran, and Persepolis is a memoir: the story of her childhood and early teenage years during the upheaval of the Islamic Revolution.  Iranian history is complex, but Satrapi's child's-eye view of the revolution and the societal repression that followed is crystal clear.  She is an engaging narrator: an irrepressible, funny, angry kid encouraged by her politically active and liberal family to be herself at home, then forced to hide her individuality as much as possible in public.  It opens with an image of Satrapi, age 10, wearing a veil over her hair, followed by an image of a group of schoolgirls during recess, playing with the veils which they have just been forced to wear.  The book is drawn entirely in black and white, a stark, effective way to communicate the story.  As Iranian society becomes more repressive and dangerous, Satrapi's parents decide to send her away to school in Vienna -- this is where book one ends.  The sequel,  Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return, details Satrapi's studies, depression, and romantic relationships, both in Vienna and back in Iran, where she returns as a young woman.  It's a fascinating read.

On a completely different note, I want to mention that it is now Book Blogger Appreciation Week.  Their site lists some fabulous blogs -- I highly recommend checking them out as a resource.  Our readers may remember that we entered ourselves in the awards category for Best Kidlit Blog.  We made it past the first round of voting, but sadly not into the final round.  Still, the competition introduced me to what has become one of my favorite kidlit blogs: Playing by the Book (we've linked to it in our sidebar as well).

It's written by an amazing, creative mom of two young girls who not only reads great books with her kids, but also does intense art projects.  Three of my favorites:

Fishing for Words
Stories in Tune: The Firebird Part I and Part II
Going to the Library

Such inspiration!

Love, Annie


  1. Thanks for the link love!

    Have you seen the film of Persepolis? I saw it just yesterday in our local video store (which of course doesn't stock any actual _videos_ any more!) and almost picked it up.

  2. Persepolis is a fascinating book and I think one of the more worthy memoirs of the Iranian revolution currently out there. I have some minor issues with the book, but not as many as with the others I've read on the subject.

  3. @ Zoe -- I have seen the movie, and really enjoyed it. It condenses the story from both books, and Satrapi worked on the animation, so it looks very much like the original books. I'd recommend it.