Reviewed by Magdalena Ball
The Adventures of Tintin: Young Readers Edition
by Hergé, with extra material by Stuart Tett
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
The Black Island
Paperback: 96 pages , January 10, 2012, ISBN-13: 978-0316133876
Cigars of the Pharaoh
Paperback: 96 pages, July 19, 2011, ISBN-13: 978-0316133883
One of the things that justifies the moniker “classic” is that it keeps coming back, inspiring generation after generation. TinTin certainly deserves the label. First released in 1929, the series first appeared in a newspaper supplement Le Petit Vingtième in Belgium, and was serialised and then made into a magazine, boosted by the strength of a growing international audience. The young reporter and his dog Snowy go on lots of adventures, foiling a bevy of villians and and irritating those in authority positions like the bumbling detectives Thomson and Thomson. It’s great fun for children and adults alike and its continuing popularity and flexibility is made obvious by the number of adaptations in theatre, radio shows, exhibitions, and of course films, including the recent 2011 adaptation directed by Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson.
For new audiences, especially the younger set, the convoluted plots can often be a little tricky, and Stuart Tett has created a new series that is faithful to the original Hergé version but that adds in lots of material to help situate the stories. Each of the stories begins with a character overview, covering the key characters and their missions, including Tintin, his brave dog Snowy, the accident-prone policemen Thomson and Thomson, along with characters specific to the story. The stories themselves are presented in crisp modern colours enhancing the slightly retro feel, with Hergé’s images presented in the original comic strip format on nice satin paper. In The Black Island Tintin is shot while trying to help out after he witnesses a plane crash. With Tintin, being shot at is enough to pique his curiosity and before long he’s avoided the clutches of Thompson and Thompson and ended up investigating a rampaging gorilla on a remote Scottish isle.
In Cigars of the Pharaoh Tintin finally gets a much needed ‘quiet holiday’ cruising when Professor Sarcophagus loses his precious Kih-Oskh papyrus, leading Tintin into an adventure that is anything but quiet.
As with all of the Tintin adventures, both stories are daring adventure tales, with the brave and inquisitive Tintin following a trail that takes him around the world and into all sorts of complex plots. At the back of each book Stuart Tett provides quite detailed context and fun facts including the real life facts behind the story. For example, the opening of the tomb of King Tutankhamun in 1922, or the research trip that Hergé’s assistant Bob De Moor took to Britain to provide material for The Black Island. The books also contain an “Explore and Discover” section with extra sketches, information and trivia around the plots.
The bonus material not only makes this an easier read for younger, modern audiences, but provides inspiration and support material for teachers and homeschoolers who want to expand on the readings. Graphic novels are particularly powerful for reluctant readers and this series is perfectly pitched towards that group, providing a range of tools to make the reader go smoother and for children to discover these classic stories once more.
About the reviewer: Magdalena Ball is the author of the novels Black Cow and Sleep Before Evening, the poetry books Repulsion Thrust and Quark Soup, a nonfiction book The Art of Assessment, and, in collaboration with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, Deeper Into the Pond, Blooming Red, Cherished Pulse, She Wore Emerald Then, and Imagining the Future. She also runs a radio show, The Compulsive Reader Talks. Find out more about Magdalena at www.magdalenaball.com.