November 21, 2017

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Snow White: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan | SLJ Review

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redstarPhelan, Matt. Snow White: A Graphic Novel. illus. by Matt Phelan. 216p. Candlewick. Sept. 2016. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780763672331.MG-GN-Phelan-Snow White

Gr 4-8 –Spanning the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression, Phelan’s noir-esque adaption of the classic fairy tale is atmospheric, clever, and touching. Samantha White, affectionately called Snow White by her ailing mother, is sent off to a boarding school as her father, the King of Wall Street, grieves his wife’s death by marrying the dazzling Queen of the Follies. Banished from her home by her stepmother, the young woman returns a decade later after her father’s mysterious death. Not content with the fortune left to her in her husband’s will, the menacing bob-haired villain dispatches Mr. Hunter to kill off Snow, who gets lost in Hooverville, where she encounters the Seven, a group of diverse street kids who take her in. The graphic novel plays with the source material, using the trappings of the time period to add depth and nuance to the narrative. With the dramatics, pacing, and mostly black-and-white palette of a silent film, the lush and stark watercolors showcase the good and evil aspects of the era to tell a timeless tale of love, betrayal, and family. Splashes of red are economically and strategically used to add drama to the presentation, from the drops of blood on Snow’s mother’s handkerchief to the scarlet of the poisonous apple. Themes of class are also explored here, making this a title worth sharing and studying at multiple levels. Especially resonant are the relationships that the heroine builds with her young protectors. The last few colorful pages will tug at heartstrings as Snow, the Seven, and an intrepid Detective Prince get their happy endings. VERDICT A stunning, genre-bending graphic novel for all middle grade and middle school collections.–Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal

This review was published in the School Library Journal August 2016 issue.

Shelley Diaz About Shelley Diaz

Shelley M. Diaz ( is School Library Journal's Reviews Team Manager and SLJTeen newsletter editor. She has her MLIS in Public Librarianship with a Certificate in Children’s & YA Services from Queens College, and can be found on Twitter @sdiaz101.

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