Friday, June 05, 2009
The Storm in the Barn
Have you ever just been stopped cold by imagery? Matt Phelan has written and illustrated a graphic novel that even in arc form has risen to my list of all time favourites.
Jack is a child of the dust bowl. The rain stopped coming when he was just 7 years old, and since then he hasn't been much of a help. There is no farm work to do and his clumsy nature means that when he does try to help his dad, he usually just ends up knocking things over.
Many families are leaving town. There's nothing left but dust and sickness. Some are even being diagnosed with something called "dust dementia" which occurs when folks seem to see things in the dust that aren't there. Things like bright bursts of light from empty barns, and storm kings.
What is Jack seeing, and will he ever be able to help out and not be a burden?
I don't want to say too much about this extraordinary book since it is not due out until September, however, I could not help but share a bit since I have not seen a graphic novel that has pulled me in so quickly and so fully since Blankets, by Craig Thompson. This is a completely different book, but Phelan has raw emotion on every page from the atmospheric storms, to the drawn and wan faces of the people living through this incredible time in American History. The Dust Bowl has always been a fascinating subject matter, and The Storm in the Barn will most likely have readers looking for other information about the time period and the people who survived it. The book itself is chock full of historical detail from the popular Oz books, to rabbit drives, and snake superstitions. This is a title that I will happily buy in its finished form and pass on.
Thanks so much to Jesse for sharing this with me.