Author: Shannon and Dean Hale
Artist: Nathan Hale (no relation, according to the cover)
Genre: Fairy tale, graphic novel, children's, Western
Copyright Date: 2008
Cover: A redhaired girl in a cowgirl outfit is using her hair as a lasso while she stands in a canyon. A boy is behind her riding a horse. On the back, there is a "Wanted" poster showing the two of them.
First Page:"Once upon a time there was a beautiful little girl. That's me there." (The accompanying picture shows a not-hugely-beautiful little girl clinging to a tree limb, then falling into a pond.)
Best part: It's pleasingly whimsical and not just a retelling.
Worst part: I'm not sure it had one.
Recommended for: Anyone who likes fairy tale retellings or graphic novels. It is genre-blurring enough to please a wide audience.
I have mixed experiences of Shannon Hale. I've enjoyed a few of her short works but I didn't like The Princess Academy. Still, a graphic novel of Rapunzel kicking butt was more than I felt I could resist, so I got it out of the library. I was not disappointed.
Know the story of Rapunzel? Not like this, you don't. For those who have studied fairy tales seriously, modern versions are often considered "translations" or "retellings." A translation is the old familiar story in a new setting, like the big city or on a boat or in the 21st century. A retelling changes elements of the plot and characters - changes, in essence, the way the story works and what it teaches us. This book could be considered both a translation (happening as it does in the Wild West) and a retelling (no passive blond heroine here - Rapunzel gets herself out of her own damned tower, thank you very much!). She and her friend Jack roam the countryside, solving problems and always working towards their end goal of overcoming the tyrannical Mother Gothel.
I think this is a great one. It would be a good introduction to comics for kids, especially girls, and has plenty to recommend it to adults as well. If you feel like no one is really innovating with graphic novels anymore, pick it up today. A-.