Thursday, October 7, 2010

REVIEW: Tiny Tyrant (Volume Two: The lucky winner)

Trondheim, L. & Parme, F.  Tiny Tyrant:  The Lucky Winner.  New York:  First Second.

62 pages.

Appetizer:  Oh, Tiny Tyrant.  I love you.  You entertain me greatly, King Ethelbert.  But having said that, I am so thankful you are a character in a graphic novel series and that I will never have to parent you or babysit for you.  Ever!

(Side note--Have I ever mentioned that I once had a child I babysat for pull a knife on me.  True story.  I'm no naive newby myself.)

This wee-little king could crush a person's soul, be a bit of a handful and drive people who survived torture without a single tear to weep uncontrollably.

For those of you who didn't see my last post about this graphic novel import, Tiny Tyrant is a collection of ten-page comics about the antics of a tiny little despot in an imaginary country.

In this volume, King Ethelbert is visited by a princess with an annoyingly large vocabulary and needs an interpreter to tell him what she is saying.  In the next story, he is jealous of a game show winner who is going to India and decides to go on the trip instead.  But the king, who is used to opulence, is less than excited about the hotel amenities when he arrives.  The king also has to track down some pirates who are selling his image throughout the country and abroad, battle his cousin for their great aunt's inheritance, "rightsize" the world so that the world fits him and find the right biographer to write about his life (and create enough excitement for the biographer to write about).

While I have to admit, I laughed out loud less often with this volume than with the first one, I did really like the second to last story, "Rightsizing," in which a scientist finds a way to shrink objects and people to be to the size that King Ethelbert thinks is appropriate.  I thought it really dealt with one of the key tensions of childhood and having to navigate the adult world.  (But unlike other kiddies, King Ethelbert has the power to change the usual adult-favoring power dynamics in his country.)

As, with the first Tiny Tyrant book, I'd recommend this book to third or fourth graders and up.  These books are an age appropriateness nightmare, since the protagonist is six, but include some vocabulary words that adults will have trouble with.

But, since the order that the reader looks at the panels is pretty straight forward, the books can also ease in readers who are still getting used to reading graphic novels.  Some of the vocabulary will still be very advanced, but I remember reading a lot of comics myself and just ignoring the big words.  (Of course, kids who were less lazy and smarter than me, probably looked them up in the dictionary.  Good for those kids.)

I actually just used the first volume of Tiny Tyrant with some of my undergraduate students.  They enjoyed it.  Mostly they seemed confused about what age of student seemed appropriate.  It was kinda cool that such a very practical teacher question was the first to come to their minds.  Makes me a proud teacher.

Also,  I hope they actually start making some of these political-angst-reducing King Ethelbert merchandise:

I would totally by the archery target.

Dinner Conversation:

Tasty Rating:  !!!

On a completely unrelated note.  Tomorrow is the fall readathon.  I've been going a wee-bit crazy with all of the different projects I'm supposed to be working on (thus the general decrease in the number of posts), so I am VERY excited to have a whole day to devote to reading.  I wanted to warn you few but dear readers, because it means that I'll probably be posting every couple of hours tomorrow.  I'll also be hosting a mini-challenge for the participants starting at 11 PM.  So be sure to check back then.

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