Week 10: Amulet: The Stonekeeper

Book summary: After losing her father in a tragic car accident, Emily’s family works to put the pieces together. But two years later find them packing for a house that has been in her mother’s family for years. Warned that the house will require a lot of work, Emily and her brother Navin are prepared to find a mess. What they’re not prepared for is finding the mystery of what happened to their great-grandfather, Silas. An eccentric inventor, Silas disappeared after his wife died – some of the locals think he’s died and is haunting the house! Then Emily finds a mysterious amulet, which warns her the family is in danger…

Strange robots, even stranger creatures, and a brief encounter with Silas only confuse Emily and Navin more. Will the amulet help save them?

My impressions: This is my second attempt at a graphic novel, and I have to say I rather liked it. The first one I tried was very busy and cluttered and I didn’t know where to read next. But Amulet: The Stonekeeper was easy to read, interesting, and I want to get the rest of the series soon! I love the mother’s honesty – that their old (newer) house is too expensive, that she misses their father tremendously, that she loves them. While I think parents do need to be brave to reassure their children, kids also need to know that it’s okay to grieve, to feel bad some days, to not have all of the answers all the time. It’s a very human moment. That is juxtaposed against the horrific, octopus-like creatures that swallow Navin and their mother; the cuddly rabbit they meet at their great-grandfather’s other house; and the robots that help run the household. 

Citation: Kibuishi, K. (2008). Amulet: Book one the stonekeeper. New York, NY: Graphix.

Professional review:

“With many a SZZT! SZRAK! FWOOM! and SKREE!, young Emily learns to use an energy-bolt-shooting amulet against an array of menaces to rescue her captured Mom in this graphic-novel series opener. When a scuttling “arachnopod” sucks down their widowed parent, Emily and younger sib Navin pursue through a door in the basement and into the alternate-Earth land of Alledia. Finding unexpected allies in rabbit-like Miskit, grumpy Cogsley and other robots created by their mysterious great-grandfather, the children weather attacks from huge, tentacled Rakers, a pointy eared elf prince with shark-like teeth and other adversaries to get her back—only to discover that she’s in a coma, poisoned. Off to Episode Two, and the distant city of Kanalis, for a cure. The mid-sized, squared-off panels are sometimes a little small to portray action sequences clearly, but the quickly paced plot is easy enough to follow, and Kibuishi is a dab hand at portraying freaky monsters. Fans of Jeff Smith’s Bone will happily fret with the good guys and hiss at the baddies…”

[Review of The Stonekeeper: Amulet Book One]. (November 15, 2007). Kirkus Reviews. Available from http://www.kirkusreviews.com.

Library uses: I would love to have a “graphic novel” awareness night at the library. Many parents, teachers, and even some librarians, don’t see these works as worthy reading. We could do “story time” for adults! I think this book would be a good choice – it’s reasonably quick to read, it has some serious issues the characters must face, and I think it falls on the spectrum right between those “graphic novels” that are just re-tellings of existing novels (like the Sherlock Holmes or Jane Austen stories), and those that parents would disregard as “comic books”.

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