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Friday, February 10, 2017

Snow White, by Matt Phelan. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2016. $27.00 ages 10 and up

"A problem, my darling?


I thought not. The King of
Wall Street need not worry.
The only man clever enough
to survive the market crash.

That was partially luck.
Or something like luck."

How do they do it? Where do these simply brilliant ideas come from? Matt Phelan again ups my admiration for his work and his vision. In his retelling of the Snow White fairy tale, he uses his superlative skills as a graphic artist to take readers back to the 1920s and the time of the stock market crash and Great Depression. This graphic novel is fabulous! I would like to wax poetic about it, but cannot do it the justice it deserves. So, I will just share my thoughts with you.

Matt Phelan introduces us to a young Samantha White (nicknamed Snow), whose mother has died. Ten years after her death, Snow's aging father, an important cog in Wall Street's wheel, remarries. Snow's stepmother is a grim and callous actress, known in theatrical circles as The Queen of the Follies. She loves her new position as wife to a rich and powerful man and soon dispatches her stepdaughter to a boarding school.

Move forward some years and Snow becomes a further threat to her because of her beauty and her father's unwavering love for his daughter. The Queen's desire for wealth and riches of her own has her poisoning her husband. She soon learns that he has recently written a new will, leaving most of his vast fortune to his beloved daughter. Thus, Snow becomes her next victim. She hires a man who tracks Snow, threatens her, but cannot kill her. He does issue a warning:
"She isn't like no other woman.
She's powerful. Dangerous.
Don't go back, kid.
Don't ever go back."

Snow flees. Lost in the alleys and threatened by two burly attackers, she is saved by a gang of seven young boys. They are orphans and suspicious of all the things she tells them. Ultimately, she wins their support and their protection. Her stepmother learns that she is alive, and sets out to finish the job herself. A poisoned apple does the trick. Will the boys be able to protect her now? Is there a prince to save the day? What do you think?

Matt Phelan takes a magical fantasy and gives us a historically accurate setting, making us believe such a story is totally reasonable! It is full of emotion, perfectly paced action, and a remarkable storyline. His artwork is exemplary. He uses pencil, ink and watercolor to create a drama of the best order. It has a classic cinematic feel, is stunning in its presentation and will surely be forever memorable. You need to have your own copy!

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