I read my first Jane Austen novel after watching the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. From there I read the other books – and watched various movie adaptations of each. Movie adaptations are often used in schools a culminating activity, with some sort of compare contrast note-taking work. The thing is, a good adaptation can help readers before they tackle the original, giving them the sense of the plot and characters, as well as the big ideas the work addresses.
Some recent graphic novels can serve the same purpose – giving readers access to a work of literature before they tackle the original – whether for school or for pleasure.
The Iliad adapted by Gareth Hinds
Hinds has made something of a career adapting classics. The Iliad, published this month, follows The Odyssey (2010), some Shakespearean plays and other literary classics. Notes, maps, a character key, and other tools to help readers understand all the action and drama .
The Handmaid’s Tale adapted and illustrated by by Reneé Nault
According to Nault, her work on this graphic novel began before the Hulu series aired, and she deliberately did not watch it, or the 1990 movie version. Her spare style and effective use of red (and blue) capture the feel of the original and make it feel remarkably current.
Anne Frank’s Diary adapted by Ari Folman, illustrated by David Polonsky
Authorized by the Anne Frank Foundation in Basel, this is the first graphic edition of The Diary and includes extensive quotation directly from the definitive edition. The illustration of the layout of the secret annex gives readers a clear picture of the space to which Anne and her family were confined.
The Giver adapted and illustrated by P. Graig Russell
A faithful adaptation, readers get to see Jonas learning about color. It begins in black and white and ends in full color. Backmatter includes conversations with Lois Lowry and P. Craig Russell about the process of creating the book.
To Kill A Mockingbird adapted and illustrated by Fred Fordham
This full color graphic novel is a faithful adaptation of the original and a great alternative to the black and white movie.
The Communist Manifest adapted and illustrated by by Martin Rowson
Martin Rowson is a political cartoonist for The Guardian. His graphic novel gives a good introduction to a text many teens encounter, but never read.