Book Review: Horrendo’s Curse, by Anna Fienberg, graphic novel artwork by Rémy Simard
Posted by Lisa Hill on August 12, 2013
They love everything that Anna Fienberg writes, and the original edition of Horrendo’s Curse illustrated by Kim Gamble has been a favourite for a long time, but this graphic novel version of it will go down a treat. Not just with reluctant readers, but also with readers who like reading but whose digital experiences make them less willing to engage with static print. These readers crave bright colours and jazzy graphics and I have no doubt that this edition will lure them in with its appealing comic-book format. It’s slightly bigger than the usual ‘chapter book’ format (15 x 23cm) and every page is in full colour with fabulous art work by Rémy Simard telling the story. (The size is important. The last time I tried to read an (adult) graphic novel the print was just too small for me to read.)
Horrendo’s Curse is a classic tale of The Kid Who Doesn’t Fit In. Every year the pirates come to town to enslave the twelve-year-olds so the boys need to be tough. But on the day he was born Horrendo was cursed by a wise witch so that he was never to be able to swear, curse, hurt or maim anyone. Once aboard the pirate ship his kind heart and gentle ways exasperate the captain, but he wins the friendship of the crew with his culinary talent and his expertise in nursing wounds, so it’s not hard to guess how it all ends up.
Horrendo’s Curse is deliberately ‘naughty’. There is fighting and cursing and the humour is gross. The parents are a lily-livered bunch of no-hopers who don’t do anything to stop their children being kidnapped, and some of the characters get eaten by sharks. Children reading this are from the age group that enjoys being a little bit frightened and a little bit silly, and they will probably enjoy it more if they think that adults will disapprove or be shocked.
But adults with a sense of humour will need to pretend to be shocked by the cursing. Here are some examples:
I’m gonna grill your gizzards in oil!’
‘You grog-faced villain!’
‘You’re a cockroach cavorting in compost!’
School libraries will want to add this title to the graphic novels collection, and I think I might try asking students to review it, using a similar comic book format to do it.
Horrendo’s Curse was shortlisted for the 2005 Young Readers’ Best Book Awards (YABBBA) in the Fiction for Younger Readers category, and in 2004 for the KOALAS (Kids Own Australian Literature Awards) and the YABBAs (Young Australians Best Book Award – Children’s Choice in the Younger Readers category.
Fishpond: Horrendo’s Curse
For more information, visit the Allen and Unwin website.
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