To Kill a Mockingbird: A Graphic Novel

adapted & illus. by Fred Fordham. 288p. HarperCollins/Harper. Oct. 2018. Tr $23.99. ISBN 9780062798183.
Gr 7 Up—Lee's classic novel is presented in comics format, reintroducing spirited Scout; her older brother, Jem; and their father, Atticus, a lawyer who serves as the story's moral center. As the Great Depression lingers in the small town of Maycomb, AL, Scout and Jem soak up their last moments of childhood innocence with their friend Dill. Beginning with the children's fascination with Arthur "Boo" Radley, their mysterious neighbor, the trio's perspective guides readers through complex issues facing 1930s Southern society. As the summer ends, the gap between innocence and experience widens for Jem and Scout as racial and gender tensions clash and bleed into the world around them. Atticus defends Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a young white woman, and the case rapidly reveals the dark underbelly of this seemingly genteel community. Fordham deftly interprets Lee's narrative with austere artwork. His palette is muted, but the frames pack a punch with panoramic views and revealing close-ups. A note at the end explains the adaptation's use of the n-word: "The inclusion of the word—its dehumanizing power and the ease with which it was used—is central to understanding the themes of the novel."
VERDICT The work's examination of topics such as the failure of the justice system will resonate with readers, especially those studying the source material.

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