- Paperback: 144 pages
- Publisher: Razorbill (October 31, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0448493667
- ISBN-13: 978-0448493664
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.3 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #360,169 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Piper Paperback – October 31, 2017
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From School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up—Maggie, who lives in a small village in the woods, is a dreamer. Ignored and abused by the other villagers because she is deaf, she takes refuge in her imagination, making up stories of forging a better life and finding love. Maggie becomes attracted to the handsome, magical stranger who arrives in town, and hopes that her dreams might come true. He appears to return her feelings, and they form a bond, but however kindly he treats her, the piper must still be paid. In this vivid reimagining of the Pied Piper legend, the artwork features rich, saturated hues with noticeable color differences among everyday life in Hameln, the muted shades of Maggie's daydreams, and Piper's and Maggie's dark backstories. The characters' dynamic body language and expressive faces speak volumes, especially during dramatic sequences. During quieter moments, the illustrations and dialogue shine. Asher, Freeburg, and Stokely take a fresh look at an intriguing, centuries-old legend. However, the protagonist's lip-reading abilities are not always realistically portrayed. VERDICT A moving graphic novel about isolation, love, and retribution, this dark version of a familiar tale will remain with readers long after the last page is turned. Fans of the authors and Emily Carroll's Through the Woods will adore this tempting piper's song for the eyes.—Kelley Gile, Cheshire Public Library, CT
Gorgeously illustrated and lyrically paced, PIPER had me under its spell from the first page. A riveting and, at times, chilling response to one of the most fascinating legends that history and fairy tales have given us.
—Marissa Meyer, #1 New York Times-bestselling author of The Lunar Chronicles and Renegades
Jay Asher and Jessica Freeburg have conjured real magic with PIPER! Mysterious and weird, scary and yet charming, they’ve managed to take an old story and craft it into something beautiful and new! Highly recommended.
—Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of Rot & Ruin and Black Panther: Doomwar
With an unfailingly honest touch, Piper unlocks the mystery and finds the heart of one of our most haunting legends. Asher, Freeburg, and Stokely find the emotional True North and leave their audience, including me, reaching for our Kleenex. Loved!
—Danielle Paige, New York Times bestselling author of the Dorothy Must Die and Stealing Snow series
Top customer reviews
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There's so much symbolism and thematic stuff in here I feel like I need to re-read this a half a dozen times to fully grasp it all. Which I love. I am enthralled with the depth of the story that Asher & Freeburg have woven from this Pied Piper of Hamelin graphic novel retelling. It's not all that long, but there are some big questions about whether justice and payment for wrongs is more importance than forgiveness, and how greed and pride can literally tear apart and ruin a village. And then there's the question of if sense are really needed to be the most perceptive person. And if romantic love is worth compromising your deeply held beliefs. (So proud of Maggie! Way to go girl!) So much stuff to chew on. The art is attractive too.
Notes on content:No language issues. No sex scenes. There are some very vague suggestions that one character's mother had to turn to prostitution to survive. There are a few deaths by drowning and beheading and fire, but nothing gory on page (the goriest thing is a smaller canvas sack and a body-sized canvas sack used to suggest that someone died by beheading).
I had absolutely no idea that this would be a graphic novel before I received it in the mail. I looked it up on Goodreads and saw how small the page count was. I should have known just looking at that that it was a graphic novel, but my mind wasn’t there. Either way, the premise really interested me. I love retellings, so I was all for being a part of the blog tour for these guys.
So, it’s been A LONG TIME since I have read anything about the Pied Piper. I’m a little bit familiar with it. I know the dude has a flute-type thing and he plays it. Rats follow him, but so do children. I vaguely remember something tragic happening to the children. I mean, I know they disappear.
The legend goes that a man dressed in “pied” clothing, which is just multicolored clothing, is hired by a village to get rid of the rats that continue to eat their food and just cause a nuisance. The citizens refuse to pay him, so he gets pretty upset and lures their children away in an act of revenge. Some people believe different versions of the tale and even seem to portray him as a symbol of hope. But, that’s pretty much the gist of it.
I think the last time I really read anything about the Pied Piper was in some Wonder Woman comic. No joke. It was so many years ago, but it’s one of those random memories that you just vividly remember in your head no matter what. The comic was super old from some book shop, I think. Upon further research, it appears that the dude has appeared in other comics with superheroes.
Let’s get back to this review, otherwise my babbling will never stop.
The female main character is named Maggie. She is deaf and lives with a mother-like figure named Agathe. Agathe helps Maggie with her stories based off of real people and real events, but with a twist. Agathe also helps her pronounce words correctly but speaking them slowly. This allows Maggie to read lips correctly.
The village is trying to solve the rat problem and in comes the Piper himself. He doesn’t really have a name, but the people give him the job anyway. It takes him a while to get rid of the rats because he is trying to learn their song.
Along the way, Maggie and the Piper bond as they talk about the village, her life, and his life. It’s a fast relationship and they obviously fall for each other, but he is so troubled by his life and his fear of people talking about him and fearing him that he really doesn’t know how to build this relationship with Maggie.
The Piper is a really unique character. Jay and Jessica portrayed him as a bit younger than how he appears to be in the fable. However, they kept that mysterious demeanor that he has. He has a dark side, too. Jay and Jessica kept the sense of revenge in this story and actually made it a physical thing. For instance, it would change his demeanor and do a complete 180 on his personality. The art would depict his eyes as totally demonic and evil.
Well, not all black eyes like an actual demon. But, still creepy.
Maggie is the total opposite of the Piper. She does keep to herself and Agathe, but she is a lot more calm. She doesn’t have too many worries in life other than Agathe and her health. She avoids trouble from other people and it helps the advantage that she is deaf so she doesn’t really know what they are saying about her behind her back. She didn’t have many speaking parts and I don’t know if that’s because she is deaf. I wanted a little bit more of her in other scenes. Maybe it’s harder to actually do character building in a graphic novel? I’m no expert.
I really want to talk about the art in this novel. The artist is named Jeff Stokely. I don’t read a lot of graphic novels, and I really hate that. I love to look at and admire the art in graphic novels because I’ve always wanted to have that talent. It’s admirable.
When I opened the mail and pulled this book out of the package, I flipped through and was blown away by the art. It’s so detailed and so colorful. The characters have their own traits, both physical and mentally portrayed through their actions and words. I feel like, if this were a regular novel, it’d be a good length because so many details and thoughts can be written out in words. So, when reading this as a graphic novel, I kept looking at the imagery that was right in front of me. Of course, it’s a fast read because it’s a graphic novel. However, your eyes are just drawn to the art and the background. I can only imagine how long it took for Jeff to create this and how his hand must have gotten sore at times!
On a side note, I really wish I could have the cover enlarged so I could frame it. It’s so beautiful and mysterious. I wonder if there’s a way to make that happen. Hint, hint, Razorbill (wink, wink).
I’m really happy that I got to be a part of this blog tour. I enjoyed this story so much and it just makes me want to take the plunge and actually read more graphic novels that are out there. I do have plans for a book-buying binge soon… (cue sinister laugh and rubbing of the hands)
The town of Hameln is overrun with rats. A mysterious wandering piper offers to get rid of them, for a price. This part of the story we know, but a young woman named Magdalena, immune to the piper’s strange powers due to her deafness, is curious to capture the rest of his tale, and once she does, she has a tendency to embellish.
Although told from a different perspective, Piper adheres very closely to the beats of the Pied Piper story and is stark and simple as a result. The added story, mainly the romance between Magdalena and the piper, could have benefited from a bit more lingering in places. In particular, there’s a moment where Magdalena has to reassess her level of trust in the piper based on a rapid succession of new information. Blink and you’ll miss the interchange of her train of thought, and end up spending some of the most crucial emotional moments trying to catch up.
The original Pied Piper can be interpreted as the instrument of a cautionary tale about the importance of honoring agreements, but as a character, he’s a scary, dangerous guy. For such a minimalist expansion on the story, Piper does a surprisingly smart and nuanced job with him as an ambiguous romantic hero, neither undoing nor excusing his elements of villainy, while adding enough pathos to make his connection with Magdalena credible and sympathetic.
This version of the piper is the perfect self-perpetuating cycle of an outcast. People distrust him for having control over other life forms, including people, through his music, a skill his family passes down as a way of getting by in a world that distrusts them. He also lives with the constant temptation to abuse his power by responding with magical force to the many injustices he faces and witnesses, but as pitiable as his frustrations may be, they don’t erase his responsibility or the seriousness of his slips.
Magdalena, meanwhile, is a ray of defiant optimism in the face of the cynicism and cruelty around her. Her tall-tale-telling coping method, and her supportive home life with her adoptive mother, are particular highlights that make the sadness of the story resonate that much more deeply.
The relationship between the piper and Magdalena is intense and sincere, but it explores the question so often ignored in both paranormal romances and superhero stories, of whether healthy love can ever truly coexist with a staggering imbalance of power, even with the best intentions of both sides.
Finally, the art is done in a beautifully atmospheric style, reminiscent of a fairytale storybook, with great attention to the characters’ visual expressiveness, leaving behind a memorable moodiness long after the story is over.