Dark, violent retelling of creepy legend has gorgeous art.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Piper is a graphic novel that adds more grim layers to the already creepy legend of the Pied Piper, said to have spirited away a town's children when he wasn't paid for ridding them of rats. The piper in this version by Jay Asher (Thirteen Reasons Why) and Jessica Freeburg is vengeful and violent, killing those who cross him and trying to manipulate others to suit his needs. The villagers, for the most part, are coarse, unkind, and suspicious, and sometimes deceitful. Many bully Maggie, mocking her deafness, and she makes up fantastic stories in which they suffer terrible consequences. It's an unsettling story, but it's full of thought-provoking material on authentic relationships, healing from trauma, and choosing how you want to view the world. Under the CCPA law you have the right to protect your personal information. Make a Do Not Sell request to Piper.
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What's the Story?
Maggie, a deaf outcast in a small -- and small-minded -- village dreams of being understood and loved in PIPER. She's smitten with the mysterious pipe-playing stranger who says he can rid the villagers of their rat problem. Village leaders agree to a deal but regard his entitled behavior with distrust. Maggie, used to being treated callously, warms to his attention but is slow to recognize his fixation on power and vengeful justice. By the time the piper kills the rats, village leaders complain the deal is unfair. The piper, angered, kidnaps their children. Maggie persuades him to tell her where to find the children but refuses to join him. The furious villagers attack the Piper, leading to a horrifying tragedy.
Is It Any Good?
The story of the Pied Piper gets a fascinating -- and sinister -- treatment in this lush graphic novel exploring themes of bullying, fairness, justice, and abusive relationships. Author Jay Asher teams up with Jessica Freeburg for this complex reimagining of the familiar legend. It's plenty creepy, and readers willing to lean into the discomfort will find an unnerving portrayal of a pathologically abusive man: The piper homes in on an isolated, vulnerable woman and charms her even as he seeks to control her. Maggie evolves from victim to hero, recognizing him as a master manipulator and standing up for kindness and compassion despite her trauma.
An introductory note on what we know -- and don't know -- about what really happened in Hamelin sets a chilling stage for what's to come. And Jeff Stokely's illustrations give the story its strange, alluring mystery with rich colors, expressive faces, and spot-on pacing.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the ideas regarding justice and people earning their fate in Piper. The piper and Maggie have both suffered terribly but have very different ideas about justice. Do you agree with either of them?
What do you think about Maggie's stories about villagers who've hurt her? Do you use fantasy as an outlet for anger, jealousy, or other difficult emotions?
Why do you think the Pied Piper has endured as a story told to children? How does this version compare with others you've read or seen?
- Authors: Jay Asher, Jessica Freeburg
- Illustrator: Jeff Stokely
- Genre: Graphic Novel
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Book Characters, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Razorbill
- Publication date: October 31, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 144
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: December 7, 2017
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