Sunday, May 16, 2010

Historical Fiction and Fantasy Get Married

It's difficult to seamlessly combine two genres in one story so that they work together harmoniously. The Storm In the Barn by Matt Phelan is one of the few graphic novels where I've been surprised. The story is set in Depression ridden America, in the center of the Dust Bowl. Not only does Phelan envelope the reader in the setting, he shows how much the dust seeps into every corner of people's lives. Through an eleven year old boy's eyes we see the details of this era. Rattlesnakes nailed on the fence posts to bring rain, his sick, bed-ridden sister reading stories from the wizard of Oz, and something that lurks in the dark corner's of his neighbor's barn. The personification of rain in this book is simply wonderful. I loved the minimalist illustrations that looked as though they were overcome by dust. Through this fantasy, the dust bowl history comes alive for younger readers. Awesome.

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