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Edu-Manga: Helen Adams Keller Paperback – November 30, 2001

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Is anything more incongruous than a biography of Helen Keller introduced by superpowered robot Astro Boy? Yet the adaptation works better than it has any right to. The Edu-Manga series presents Astro Boy hosting graphic novels that recount the lives of such historical figures as Beethoven, Einstein and Anne Frank for young readers. While the framing sequences with Astro Boy are drawn in creator Osamu Tezuka's exaggeratedly cartoony style, Yagi's artwork for the biographical material is comparatively more realistic and considerably more dramatic. The book affectingly retells how Annie Sullivan taught the blind and deaf child Helen to communicate, a tale familiar from the play and film The Miracle Worker. Writer Yanagawa does not shy away from the darker aspects of the story, as when Helen attacks her baby sister, and follows the tale from Sullivan's breakthrough to Keller's subsequent triumphs in learning to speak and entering college, continuing to her two leading characters' deaths. Though occasionally heavy on the Hallmark sentiments, Yanagawa and Yagi capture Keller's inspiring tale with enough intelligence to make parents enjoy reading this book along with their children. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-7– Japanese icon Astro Boy visits the Tokyo Helen Keller Association; through his experiences, readers are presented with a biography of the renowned activist. The book begins before and continues long after Henry Gibson's famous play, The Miracle Worker, giving an interesting amount of detail beyond the traditional obstacles overcome story. However, not all of the details are faithful; accounts of Annie Sullivan's spunky attitude toward Keller's parents and the frequent inclusion of Helen's stepbrother James do not seem to mesh with Keller's autobiography or the documents in Richard Harrity's The Three Lives of Helen Keller (Doubleday, 1962; o.p.). Additionally, the visual depiction of Keller doesn't remotely resemble her many photographs, which seems odd for a biography in a visual medium. And since the volume was originally written for a Japanese audience, the script still retains a heavy slant toward the subject's visits to Japan and the founding of the Tokyo Association. While an informative read, with an interesting side message about plagiarism, the liberties taken with the dramatic re-enactment of events prevents this from being a trustworthy resource that can ensure the Edu- portion of the series title.–Benjamin Russell, The Derryfield School, Manchester, NH
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: DMP (November 30, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569709769
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569709764
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,488,323 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
I just read this book to my 5-year old daughter and she was hooked from beginning to end. I'm not sure that means this book is for kindergartners, but manga (Japanese comic books) in general tend to have a cinematic style that, at least in the case of Helen Keller's story, worked surprisingly well for reading aloud. Since I do not know much about Helen Keller I can't say whether this "Edu-Manga" gets the story 100% right, but I'll give the author and artist the benefit of the doubt of having strived for accuracy. Overall, it felt like I was learning something along with my daughter, so I presume most people new to Helen Keller's amazing story would benefit from reading it, especially book-averse teens (I personally have no problem with gaining information through comic books/graphic novels/manga), which is undoubtedly the Edu-Manga series' target demographic. I would have given the book 5 stars, but the translation at times retains too much in the way of Japanese modes of speech. For instance, the translator has the book's characters throughout the story call Helen Keller's assistant "Teacher" rather than "MIss Sullivan" or "Anne." As a student of Japanese I know that this is simply a direct translation of the word "sensei" (teacher), which is how Japanese people refer to teachers whether they know their name or not. Americans, though, do not speak this way, and that and other awkward translations give the dialogue a stilted feeling at times. Also, a quick look at the Wikipedia article on Helen Keller shows her to have been a brunette as a child, whereas the artist made her a typical blonde caucasian girl of the type found throughout the Japanese manga universe. Nonetheless, these are really quibbles, and if this and the other Edu-Manga help kids learn history, then they've done their job. Overall, a fine effort.
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