Edu-Manga: Helen Adams Keller

Sozo Yanagawa, Author, Rie Yagi, Illustrator . Digital Manga Publishing $9.95 (159p) ISBN 978-1-56970-976-4

Is anything more incongruous than a biography of Helen Keller introduced by superpowered robot Astro Boy? Yet the adaptation works better than it has any right to. The Edu-Manga series presents Astro Boy hosting graphic novels that recount the lives of such historical figures as Beethoven, Einstein and Anne Frank for young readers. While the framing sequences with Astro Boy are drawn in creator Osamu Tezuka's exaggeratedly cartoony style, Yagi's artwork for the biographical material is comparatively more realistic and considerably more dramatic. The book affectingly retells how Annie Sullivan taught the blind and deaf child Helen to communicate, a tale familiar from the play and film The Miracle Worker . Writer Yanagawa does not shy away from the darker aspects of the story, as when Helen attacks her baby sister, and follows the tale from Sullivan's breakthrough to Keller's subsequent triumphs in learning to speak and entering college, continuing to her two leading characters' deaths. Though occasionally heavy on the Hallmark sentiments, Yanagawa and Yagi capture Keller's inspiring tale with enough intelligence to make parents enjoy reading this book along with their children. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 11/14/2005
Release date: 12/01/2005
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