Animal Farm: The Graphic Novel

HMH. Sept. 2019. 176p. adapted by adapted & illus. by Odyr. Tr $22. ISBN 9780358093152.
Gr 6 Up–Tired of being enslaved by humans, the animals of Manor Farm overthrow their master, Mr. Jones, and reclaim the farm for themselves, setting out to create an environment in which all creatures are equal. While this plan succeeds initially, the original ideals get blurred as some animals are treated as “more equal than others.” This graphic take, first published in Brazil, is a highly faithful adaptation of the classic political satire. There are strategic edits for brevity, but many lines and paragraphs are pulled word for word from Orwell’s text. The page count exceeds that of the source material, though the graphic novel reads more quickly and maintains the original’s 10 chapter division. The allegory and references to the Russian Revolution and the following Stalinist era of the Soviet Union are no more or less obvious in graphic form, but the message and delivery are neither diminished nor confused by the format. The coarse, visible brushstrokes of Odyr’s largely unlined and unrestrained illustrations occasionally rely on a primary color palette that evokes the painted tissue collage style of Eric Carle while never skewing too young in appearance. At other times, the comingling of darker blues and grays adds gravitas to the story of talking animals. The use of white space keeps clumps of text, a digitized form of the illustrator’s handwriting, from overwhelming the page.
VERDICT Odyr vividly reimagines Orwell’s allegory of the Russian Revolution and the Stalinist Soviet Union. Recommended where this title is required reading at school.

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