Book Review for “The Tempest the Graphic Novel”


Shakespeare, W., McDonald, J., & Howard, J. (2009). The tempest the graphic novel: Plain text. Classical Comics.

     One of the most commonly known names in the history of literature is William Shakespeare. This renowned literary artist seems to be a favorite amongst high school English teachers, making it very difficult to find anyone who has never heard of him. Original texts, reenactments of his plays, and movie theater renditions of his stories have been created and recreated throughout the centuries, but have you ever read one of his graphic novels? A popular trend in literature today involves the adaptation of classical literary works into graphic novels or comic strips; this is precisely what has been done with William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Shakespeare’s original text has been reworked into the colorful pages of The Tempest the Graphic Novel. If you are a fan of Shakespeare, this graphic novel will allow you to experience his work in a fun and colorful way like never before. If you’ve never read Shakespeare, this is your chance. There are many aspects of this graphic novel format that appeal to both traditional literary lovers and contemporary readers alike.

     The difference between original texts and graphic novels is that the illustrations and embellishments used in graphic novels make the literature come alive. The reader doesn’t simply read the story, they become immersed in it. Graphic novels are a multi-modal experience because they involved simultaneously processing words and pictures alike. The important thing to know about the illustrations in this type of novel is that they don’t simply restate the words in a visual way; they add unique elements that the text alone does not express. Processing these kinds of information simultaneously engage the reader more fully than regular novels or texts. They provide a larger depth of information for the brain to process and analyze including traditional literary themes such as mood, tone, and theme. The visual aspect of graphic novels allow for the reader to delve deeper into the plot and analyze it more fully.

     One of the necessary elements in any great graphic novel is the storyline, and Shakespeare’s The Tempest provides just that. This traditional work provides multiple opportunities for the reader to enjoy comical moments, visions of fantasy, awesome displays of magic, and colorful depictions. This is what is lost when a reader simply reads words on a page rather than using pictures and words together. This is what makes The Tempest the Graphic Novel easier for some readers to comprehend. The old English language used in Shakespeare’s work can make readability difficult in the 21st century. With the original text a reader might not understand the slang or time period-specific words used in this work. With the graphic novel however, the reader can use the context clues gleaned from the images to infer what certain words and phrases mean. Also, The Tempest involves a vivid imagination; many displays of fantasy, supernatural beings, and magic take place throughout its pages. These non-existent elements of this fictional story may be difficult for readers to imagine; providing the text along with illustrations ensures that the reader does not get lost.

     Every aspect of reading this classical work with a modern twist is fun and easily understood, but does it have a place in the classroom? Yes, and in fact graphic novels can allow students to more deeply interact with the literary work being studied. For example, this graphic novel can be used for students to analyze the texts and illustrations for traditional literary elements such as theme, tone, and mood. Students can also compare and contrast the execution of these literary elements by reading a portion of the original text and a portion of the graphic novel together; this can lead to in-depth discussions into how the images reinforce, change, complicate, or clarify the meaning of the words.

     Graphic novels are a genre of literature that have been increasing in popularity in recent years. They have been shunned by educators in the past for their use of pictures. Today however, many educators are beginning to realize that pictures do not necessarily distract from a literary work. When executed correctly a graphic novel can give a greater depth of meaning than words alone. This graphic novel is a great example of how images and time sequencing can update a traditional work. While original texts will always be used in schoolrooms, graphic novels can provide great supplementary reading and opportunities for analysis. The Tempest the Graphic Novel is a new and exhilarating to experience William Shakespeare’s traditional work.

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Filed under Young Adult Novels

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