Review Blog

Sep 13 2016

Snow White: a graphic novel by Matt Phelan

cover image

Walker Books Australia, 2016. ISBN 9780763672331 (Age: Secondary) Traditional fairytales continue as such a rich source for adaptations, retellings and reworkings that one is often amazed that anyone can come up with a new approach.
Acclaimed graphic novel creator Matt Phelan has proven that it is very possible to revitalise such stories with this interpretation of Snow White.
With a dark and brooding style reminiscent of film noir, Phelan has taken 1930s Manhattan as his setting for this evocative rendering of the favourite tale.
A wealthy man loses his wife but holds onto his fortune despite the relentless and ominous rat-a-tat-tat of the stock ticker. While the rest of New York reels under the collapse of Wall Street the man remarries a glamorous and wellknown Ziegfield Follies star who swiftly ensures the pretty little daughter, Samantha, known as Snow, is removed to a boarding school. Before too long, the wicked new wife decides she cannot be certain that her husband's good fortune will continue so she cold-bloodedly removes him from the scene via a poisoned cocktail. Her wrath when she discovers that the canny man has altered his will in favour of his beloved daughter is ugly and malicious. However, if anything should happen to Snow, then she would inherit it all and she is completely prepared to make that a reality.
She engages a thug to do the dirty work but he cannot bring himself to do away with the sweet girl and tells her to run. But the seedy alleys of New York are no safe place for a young woman on her own and she is pursued by two street hoods. In the nick of time she is rescued by some small men - in fact, they are just boys who take her to their hideout.
And so the story goes on - with a wonderfully satisfactory happy ending.
The amazing illustrations done throughout in grey tones (until the last few pages) have been done in ink, pencil and watercolour with some digital adjustments and would be a rich resource to inspire young artists. It is these illustrations which tell the story with very little text and make for a sombre and gripping retell of this classic.
A beautiful addition to your collection for secondary students particularly those interested in creative writing and illustrating.
You can access teaching notes and watch a terrific trailer.
Sue Warren

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