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Graphic Novel (Guest) Review 214/365: Poe: Stories and Poems

Please keep up with all of my old Graphic Novel Reviews here as I quest for 365 in 365 days! Or search #GN365 on Twitter.

Hey, all!  I have some cool things coming your way in February, so make sure that you are checking back every day.  I appreciate you for reading.

Today, I have a special review from a great English teacher in my department, reviewing a new book from one of our pals: Gareth Hinds.  Get excited!

Title: Poe: Stories and Poems: A Graphic Novel Adaptation

Author(s): Gareth Hinds

Publisher:  Candlewick Press (2017)

Age Rating: 13+

As someone who has the privilege of teaching a high school senior English elective class dubbed “Man, Myth, Monster,” I’ve always believed it my duty to bring the craft of Edgar Allan Poe to life for my students. However, I find that it is increasingly difficult to infuse the brilliant works of Poe into the modern classroom. Students don’t seem to find Poe’s biting, colorful, and morbid stylings quite as amusing, chilling, or enjoyable as their teachers.

Poe: Stories and Poems: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Gareth Hinds is the treasure trove I’ve been eagerly awaiting to bring Poe to the high school students of 2018.

As a teacher who wants-but-struggles to use graphic novels within the context of the everyday classroom, Hinds’ offering manages to find the perfect “sweet spot.” Pairing authentic excerpts of text with stunningly vivid visuals, Hinds constructs potent images for the reader that the stand-alone text and many film adaptations fail to.

Hinds’ brilliance manifests itself through his being able to successfully bring Poe’s most menacing characters and plot sequences to life. Whether it is capturing the essence of “The Cask of Amontillado’s” devilishly cocky Monstressor, or illustrating the step-by-step unhinging of the twitchy narrator of “Tell-Tale Heart” fame, this graphic novel simply has it all. Hinds delves into many of Poe’s most famous works (“The Masque of the Red Death, “The Pit and the Pendulum,” among others), while exploring a few lesser-known gems as well (“Annabel Lee,” “The Bells”).

What’s more, the length and pacing of the novel allows for struggling and exemplary readers alike to zoom through the selection, while still allowing for valuable literacy impressions to take place. It’s a quick and fun read, sure, but don’t measure the novel’s value by its skinny spine. Whether an instructor chooses to focus on conflict, characterization, mood, imagery, or allusion (to only name a few)–Hinds’ pages are overflowing with instructional potential, where no literary angle is off limits. I personally had success with a basic inferencing activity that bore fruit well beyond what I had intended, in the form of extended, rich discussion.

In my particular class, I also explored using screenshots of Hinds’ graphic novel as a supplemental and alternative form of evidence for students to use in the body paragraphs of their essays. Students benefited from being able to investigate how particular colors in Hinds’ visuals brought clarity to Poe’s oftentimes murky, challenging, stand-alone text.

I will absolutely be using Gareth Hinds’ Poe: Stories and Poems: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by in my Poe units for years to come.

-Mike Murphy

Mike, thank you so much for that amazing review of what’s bound to be Gareth’s latest smash!  The three of us should get dinner sometime and talk Poe.

Happy reading!


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