What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant is a lively romp of a graphic novel starring an adventurous and wildly capable globetrotter. Delilah Dirk slashes her way out of captivity, steals from an evil pirate, and gets both herself and her new friend Selim into lots and lots of dangerous situations. The body count is high, though just a few drops of blood appear on the illustrated pages, and a lighthearted tone dampens the impact of the swashbuckling.
What's the story?
When Deliliah Dirk is captured and imprisoned by the Turkish army, a soldier named Erdemoglu Selim is sent to interrogate her. He learns of her impressive background, which includes specialized combat training, as well as her elite family connections, making her part of several royal courts. But what really surprises him is when she escapes from prison, saves Selim from execution, and carts him off on a flying boat. The excitement doesn't end there as she draws him into her wild plans to steal back money from an evil pirate, among other escapades. Ever polite -- and an impressive tea brewer -- Selim attempts to repays Dirk's rescue by helping her on her journeys, but ends up being more trouble than help. But his friendship, at least, never wavers.
Is it any good?
What began as an online comic by artist Tony Cliff is now a gorgeous, matte-print graphic novel that brings the adventures of Delilah Dirk to the page. With lots of explosive action and near misses illustrated in panel after panel of dark reds, golds, and blues, Cliff draws readers into the world of 1807 Turkey, when soldiers like Erdemoglu Selim -- who becomes Dirk's companion -- served at the pleasure of the sultan, and were treated poorly for the privilege.
This glimpse into history, however unrealistic with a flying boat and Dirk's ability to vanquish dozens of soldiers at a time, offers young readers a curiosity trigger, and motivated kids might do some more research on the Turkish Janissary Corp or the Ottoman Empire. Both boys and girls will get a kick out of Dirk's thirst for adventure and justice -- no matter what the stakes -- and Selim's kindness and almost supernatural ability to brew a fantastic cup of tea offers a lovely contrast to Dirk's explosiveness.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the character of Delilah Dirk. Does she remind you of any other pop culture characters? What makes her different than or similar to other female characters in books or other media?
How does gender play out in this book? Who's strong and who's weak? What behavior or appearances follow traditional gender roles and what doesn't?
Author and illustrator Tony Cliff has never been to Turkey. Do you think it's OK for him to write about and draw a place he's never been? He's also never lived in 1807. Is it OK for him to write about that time period?