Hale, Shannon and Dean Hale. Rapunzel's Revenge. Illus. Nathan Hale. New York: Bloomsbury U.S.A. Children's Books, 2008.
Shannon and Dean Hale’s graphic novel Rapunzel’s Revenge plays with the traditional fairy tales of Rapunzel and Jack and the Beanstalk, which are revamped in a whimsical, western setting. Rapunzel has been unknowingly adopted by and grown up with an evil witch, Gothel; however, upon realizing that she was taken from her real mom, who now suffers in Gothel’s mines, Rapunzel seeks revenge on her pseudo-mother. As soon as Rapunzel defies Gothel, Gothel locks her up in a magical tree-prison, yet, one day, Rapunzel’s hair is long enough to provide her with a rope to escape. Upon escaping, Rapunzel meets Jack, who facilitates her success in a variety of obstacles and ultimately helps her save her mother and defeat Gothel.
Rapunzel provides readers with a strong female role model. She chooses good over evil and works diligently to save her mother. She is disciplined and has high moral standards; for example, though she is an outlaw in Gothel’s land, she refuses to steal. Rapunzel is clearly the heroine of the tale, whereas, her friend Jack is more like a sidekick. He supports her in her decisions but allows her to call the shots. Both characters are extremely human and easy to identify with – Rapunzel is trying to figure out who she is a new world, where Jack is trying to escape his past. Through their friendship, they are able to overcome obstacles that may have been too trying for them individually. Readers also notice the budding amorous relationship between the two and are interested in watching it grow.
Rapunzel’s Revenge begins in a stereotypical fairy tale setting – Rapunzel wonders a beautiful castle and garden, yet, less stereotypically, is obviously bored with her surroundings. Once Rapunzel’s curiosity gets the best of her, and she realizes that Gothel has drained the land outside the castle walls of life, she becomes defiant. She escapes her tree-house dungeon and ends up in the Wild West. The bandit-infested desert provides a perfect setting for the variety of obstacles that Rapunzel must overcome.
Lastly, Nathan Hale’s illustrations appear in prime comic book form. They are colorful and vivid. Speech bubbles and sound effects abound, and the characters and setting reflect the fantastical nature of the novel.
An ALA 2009 Notable Children's Book
A YALSA 2009 Great Graphic Novel for Teens
"With its can-do heroine, witty dialogue and romantic ending, this graphic novel has something for nearly everybody."
Publisher's Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
"The dialogue is witty, the story is an enticing departure from the original, and the illustrations are magically fun and expressive. Knowing that there are more graphic novels to come from this writing team brings readers their own happily-ever-after."
School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW
"Readers familiar with graphic novels will feel at home...Newbies may not realize how particularly well-matched the Hales' gutsy tale is to its format, but this introduction--with its high action quotient, immediate sensory thrills, and wisecracking heroes--should win many converts. With such a successful debut, one hopes to see more graphic novels from this trio."
Horn Book, STARRED REVIEW
"A dash of typical fairy-tale romance, a strong sense of social justice and a spunky heroine make this a standout choice for younger teens."
Students could rewrite fairy tales of their own choosing or rewrite their favorite fairy tale in a western setting.
Students could read other books by the authors.
Students could read other graphic novels and compare and contrast them, or compare and contrast the graphic novel to the traditional tale.