Rich art in need of a richer story.

MEADOWLARK

A COMING-OF-AGE CRIME STORY

For this coming-of-age neonoir about a troubled boy and his troubled dad, illustrator and author Ruth reteams with his Indeh (2016) collaborator, actor/writer/director Hawke.

Teenage troublemaker Coop has been expelled from school, hates his mom’s dorky boyfriend, and wishes he could just live with his dad, Jack, a brave and charming (if frequently late) corrections officer with a past as a boxer. But when Jack’s fraught relationship with Coop’s mom forces an impromptu bring-your-son-to-work day at the local prison, a series of events unfold that upend Coop’s understanding of his father and force him to grow up quickly. The story is swift and breezy, relying on archetypes (tough but maternal boss, lunatic killer inmates, exasperated woman who still cares about her screw-up ex-husband) and pattering dialogue (“Buck will never be too dumb to forget how smart you think you are, Jack”) to fill in characters painted mostly in broad strokes. Coop is unhappy and self-sabotaging but without clear motivation other than the strained relationship with his father. We get a peek into Coop’s head through dreams and nature-inspired reveries, and Ruth’s exceptional art imbues those moments with a power beyond words. But with the intensity of Coop’s experience by the end, a bit more exploration of his interior landscape would’ve helped the brutally life-changing events of the story resonate beyond the raw power of blood spatter. The near photorealism and energy of Ruth’s linework are absolutely gorgeous, and the striking similarity between Jack’s physical appearance and that of co-writer Hawke is a fun nod to the actor and co-author. But the story’s reliance on Hollywood tropes keeps the tale from full poignancy.

Rich art in need of a richer story.

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5387-1457-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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Using modern language, McDonald spins the well-known tale of the two young, unrequited lovers. Set against Nagar’s at-times...

ROMEO AND JULIET

From the Campfire Classics series

A bland, uninspired graphic adaptation of the Bard’s renowned love story.

Using modern language, McDonald spins the well-known tale of the two young, unrequited lovers. Set against Nagar’s at-times oddly psychedelic-tinged backgrounds of cool blues and purples, the mood is strange, and the overall ambiance of the story markedly absent. Appealing to what could only be a high-interest/low–reading level audience, McDonald falls short of the mark. He explains a scene in an open-air tavern with a footnote—“a place where people gather to drink”—but he declines to offer definitions for more difficult words, such as “dirges.” While the adaptation does follow the foundation of the play, the contemporary language offers nothing; cringeworthy lines include Benvolio saying to Romeo at the party where he first meets Juliet, “Let’s go. It’s best to leave now, while the party’s in full swing.” Nagar’s faces swirl between dishwater and grotesque, adding another layer of lost passion in a story that should boil with romantic intensity. Each page number is enclosed in a little red heart; while the object of this little nuance is obvious, it’s also unpleasantly saccharine. Notes after the story include such edifying tidbits about Taylor Swift and “ ‘Wow’ dialogs from the play” (which culls out the famous quotes).

Pub Date: May 10, 2011

ISBN: 978-93-80028-58-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Campfire

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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Even so, this remains Macbeth, arguably the Bard of Avon’s most durable and multilayered tragedy, and overall, this enhanced...

MACBETH

From the Wordplay Shakespeare series

A pairing of the text of the Scottish Play with a filmed performance, designed with the Shakespeare novice in mind.

The left side of the screen of this enhanced e-book contains a full version of Macbeth, while the right side includes a performance of the dialogue shown (approximately 20 lines’ worth per page). This granular focus allows newcomers to experience the nuances of the play, which is rich in irony, hidden intentions and sudden shifts in emotional temperature. The set and costuming are deliberately simple: The background is white, and Macbeth’s “armor” is a leather jacket. But nobody’s dumbing down their performances. Francesca Faridany is particularly good as a tightly coiled Lady Macbeth; Raphael Nash-Thompson gives his roles as the drunken porter and a witch a garrulousness that carries an entertainingly sinister edge. The presentation is not without its hiccups. Matching the video on the right with the text on the left means routinely cutting off dramatic moments; at one point, users have to swipe to see and read the second half of a scene’s closing couplet—presumably an easy fix. A “tap to translate” button on each page puts the text into plain English, but the pop-up text covers up Shakespeare’s original, denying any attempts at comparison; moreover, the translation mainly redefines more obscure words, suggesting that smaller pop-ups for individual terms might be more meaningful.

Even so, this remains Macbeth, arguably the Bard of Avon’s most durable and multilayered tragedy, and overall, this enhanced e-book makes the play appealing and graspable to students . (Enhanced e-book. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: The New Book Press LLC

Review Posted Online: Nov. 7, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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