Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Amulet ~ An Addictive Graphic Novel Series

Graphic novels are SO popular with middle grade readers, including my students. I was hesitant to bring them into my classroom at first because I didn't think they counted as "real reading," but I have seen how they motivate my students and push them outside their own comfort levels. Often, graphic novels turn out to be more complex and require more advanced comprehension skills than traditional texts. Now I actually require my students to read at least two graphic novels per year.

The most popular graphic novel series in my classroom is Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi. These books never seem to sit on the shelf, they are passed from one student to another all year long. Below are super quick premise/review blurbs for each book. All premises are from Goodreads.
A scene from Amulet
Amulet 1: The Stonekeeper (2008)
After the tragic death of their father, Emily and Navin move with their mother to the home of her deceased great-grandfather, but the strange house proves to be dangerous. Before long, a sinister creature lures the kids' mom through a door in the basement. Em and Navin, desperate not to lose her, follow her into an underground world inhabited by demons, robots, and talking animals.

Review: This book is definitely engaging! I like how it's unclear who the bad guys are and if the Emily's amulet is trustworthy or manipulating her for evil purposes.  I'm still confused about the overall problem, though.

Amulet 2: The Stonekeeper's Curse (2009)

Emily and her brother Navin head for Kanalis, a beautiful and mysterious city of waterfalls, where they hope to find the antidote for the poison that felled their mother. That cure lies in the eggs of a giant serpent atop Demon's Head Mountain, but the kids' archenemy, Trellis, is headed for the peak, too.

Review: There is lots of action in this one! I like how the characters are evolving and how Kibuishi is doling out information about the conflict a bit at a time. The story and backstory are emerging simultaneously. Nicely done.

Amulet 3: The Cloud Searchers (2010)
Emily, Navin, and their crew of resistance fighters charter an airship and set off in search of the lost city of Cielis. There they hope to find help from the Guardian Council's powerful Stonekeepers. It's a mission that Alledia's survival depends on, and time is running out--Emily's got to find Cielis before the Elf King finds her.

Review: I love the complexity and intensity of this world. Some of the action scenes really confused me, though... not enough transition panels maybe?

Amulet 4: The Last Council (2011)
Emily and her friends think they'll find the help they need in Cielis, but something isn't right. Streets that were once busy are deserted, and the townspeople who are left live in crippling fear. Emily is escorted to the Academy where she's expected to compete for a spot on the Guardian Council, the most powerful Stonekeepers. But as the number of competitors gets smaller and smaller, a terrible secret is slowly uncovered.

Review: My students would give this series a million stars if they could. I enjoy it too, but there are some gaps in the plot that really bugged me. The world building continues to be great and moves up to a whole new level in this one.

Amulet 5: Prince of the Elves (2012)
the Elf King forges new Amulets that will give him the power to invade and destroy the nation of Windsor. Emily and her friends lead the soldiers of the Cielis Guard in a fight to stop him, but Max stands in their way.

Review: Ah this wonderful series has redeemed itself after the gaping plot holes in book 4. This one is so dark and the truths revealed make for a complex and compelling story.

When I revealed the cover for Amulet 6: Escape From Lucien, my students burst into a round of applause. They are so excited for this book! Unfortunately the have to wait until August 26th.

This post is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge.


  1. I love graphic novels! Thanks for sharing a new one for me to get addicted to :)

    1. You're welcome! What are some of your favorite graphic novels?

  2. I'll bet graphic novels are fairly difficult to write too. Must take a lot of creativity to produce a story like that!

    MJ, A to Z Challenge Co-Host
    Writing Tips
    Effectively Human
    Lots of Crochet Stitches

    1. I imagine so! Kazu Kibuishi, author of the Amulet novels, has a great visual record of the process at his website http://boltcity.com/workshop/

  3. Amanda,
    I have to check these out. They sound like books my son would be interested in reading. He won't read text only books, but will devour stuff like the Wimpy Kid stories.

    1. Awesome! Believe it or not, graphic novels like these are actually a step up in complexity compared to the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. They are more serious and require more inferencing to figure out what's going on. They are a great genre for people who love books with images, like your son.

  4. Now here's blog after my own heart... (my post planned for tomorrow is 'Boxes and Boxes of Books from the Barn'). I haven't read a whole lot of graphic novels but have thoroughly enjoyed those I've had a chance to get to. Persepolis was probably my favourite so far...

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed my blog, stop by anytime! I tried to find your Boxes and Boxes of Books post, but couldn't find it... may I have the link?

  5. I think anything that gets kids reading is a good thing. There should be more focus in the curriculum like you have in your classroom - on what kids like to read, rather than classics. After we instil a love of reading, we can worry more about what they are reading, but the love has to come first!

    An to A to Z Blog Participant


    1. Ooo I so agree with you that the most important thing is to hook kids on reading by encouraging them to read the things they love!