DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!


Jun 19 2009

Read it here first

by Lesley B

And they roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teethFor those who like to debate Heather’s eternal question: book vs. movie,  2009 is a really interesting year for movie adaptations. Already we’ve gotten the long awaited Watchmen movie and Coraline was great in 3D. My Sister’s Keeper, from the Jodi Picoult novel, comes out next week and it looks like you’ll need a box of tissues to get through it. Next month brings us the long-awaited Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, from a film series that I think has done an especially good job of interpreting  J. K. Rowling’s books. Later this year we’ll get Julie and Julia, which was a blog and then a book about a woman living in a tiny New York City apartment deciding to cook every one of the recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Audrey Niffenegger’s heartbreaking The Time Traveler’s Wife comes to screens this fall (definitely read the book first) and don’t forget the next installment from the Stephenie Meyer vampire books, New Moon, set to come out in November. The kids get Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, based on a book about a town where it rains breakfast, lunch and dinner. The pictures in the book are hilarious and I want to see pancakes and syrup actually falling from the sky.

I’m most intrigued by the movie version of  Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak’s brief and mysterious picture book.  I wouldn’t have thought it could be done; but Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers, the creative minds behind the adaptation, are compelling artists themselves and I look forward to seeing their interpretation of Sendak’s work. The trailer is beautiful.

Request these titles from the library and you’ll be ready to start your own book vs. movie debate club.


For this post I wanted to examine a collection that is perhaps the most likely to be misunderstood, overlooked, or dismissed as just “kid stuff”: the graphic novel.  The label encompasses a wide variety of material, but most simply, a graphic novel is “any extended form of comics, including non-fiction and short story collections.” (a definition borrowed from Grossman and Lacayo of TIME magazine).

maus-cover2While some graphic novels in the DCPL catalog do resemble the comics you read as a kid (such as the 7 volume Essential X-men series, each of which compiles 20-30 issues of the comic book), it would be a mistake to think that costumed superheroes are the extent of what graphic novels have to offer. In fact, there are graphic novels appropriate for all tastes and age categories. Adults interested in serious nonfiction should check out Maus, a Pulitzer Prize winning Holocaust narrative wherein all the people are portrayed as anthropomorphic animals (for example, the Jews are mice, while the Germans are cats). For something the whole family can enjoy, try Bone, a tale of adventure with heavy doses of humor and fantasy which TIME magazine called “the best all-ages novel yet published in this medium“. And no description of the category would be complete without mentioning what many consider the best of the genre, the seminal Watchmen. This masterpiece was hailed by Entertainment Weekly as “The greatest superhero story ever told and proof that comics are capable of smart, emotionally resonant narratives worthy of the label literature,” and was recently adapted into a major motion picture.watchmen-cover

Speaking of graphic novels which have been adapted into films, there are several others available in the DCPL catalog, notably Sin City and V For Vendetta (the latter is also available in graphic novel format).

So give graphic novels a try and check one out. Just look for GN on the spine label. You’ll never think of them as just “kid stuff” again.