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I teach sixth grade and have taught The Giver many many years. I love teaching it so much but I really struggle to help my English language learners and my struggling readers to grasp everything that is happening in the book and what it all means. I have been dying for something like this to come out for many years---I just received this book yesterday and already, a girl in my class has checked it out and said that it was helping her to understand the story better (she's and English language learner). I just ordered two more copies to keep in my classroom. I love how faithful it is to the book. Of course, we will keep reading the traditional/ original version in class, but this book means that more of my students will understand the story and hopefully be able to participate in the discussions and activities we do. Yay for tools that help me reach ALL of my students:)
I have read the prose version of The Giver too many times to count, so I was excited when the graphic novel version was announced and eager to read it when it arrived. P. Craig Russell does an excellent job of illustrating Jonas's world and bringing "sameness" to life. The use of blues instead of greytones to indicate the lack of color is extraordinarily effective, as is the use of a single color in most of the memories that Jonas receives from the Giver. I read an interview with Russell in which he discussed his interpretation of the book's ending (no spoilers here, and we're just going to ignore that the other three books in the Giver Quartet exist) and was pleased to read that he and I shared our view of how the book ends. The graphic rendering of the ending is very well done--and still somewhat open for interpretation. All that said, the fact that I was able to SEE all the horrors of Jonas's society made everything so much worse. It was one thing reading it and imagining it myself, but it was a completely different animal when it was laid out in visual form on the page. Again, no spoilers, but I was extremely affected by chapter 20 and onwards, to the point where I can say that this is an extraordinary and important graphic novel that I never want to read again.
This was my own first time reading the story, even though this was for my son, who has recently become a 12. The good: my son has never loved reading anything as much as this book. He reads without watching the clock! He also engages in talking about what has happened during each reading as we talk through each set of circumstances that Jonas faces. It is also a good book for adults to enjoy and a good start to reading with your child. I was able to read it in one sitting so I could engage in conversation as my son worked through reading on his own. I highly recommend this book and would easily pre-order the other three if given the opportunity (hint hint to the authors!!!)
The bad: My son can't stop talking about it! He reads without taking breaks. He also is prone to ask more questions about the world. (None of these are really bad.)
English is my oldest's (8th Grader) 2nd language. His lit class was going to read The Giver this year and his teacher recommended to us to have him read the Graphic Novel 1st before the class read the regular book. Oh my goodness, I'm so glad she suggested it. The Graphic Novel is very much like the book and it was extremely helpful for him to see the pictures and read it first. It helped with his confidence when he had to read the actual book for class. And the story is amazing! He actually followed along and was tracking the whole time in class. Wish he could experience this with more books.