Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet

by John Holbo on November 28, 2010

Here’s my pre-X-Mas best books for kids #1 top recommendation: Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet series. Volumes 1-3 are out so far. So start with The Stonekeeper [amazon]. How they can sell a 200 page full-color graphic novel for under $7 and turn a profit is beyond me.

You can find preview material here. One word about the prologue to volume 1: it’s disturbing because the dad dies. My daughters (ages 6 and 9) almost gave up because that scene upset them so much (note to self: don’t die in car accident). But then it turns into a ripping yarn with a girl hero. Both girls are now of the considered opinion that the Amulet books are ‘the best books ever’.

Check out the rest of Kibuishi’s site – his gallery gives a good sample of his style. I’m thinking about buying my daughters a print for their wall. Maybe ‘the walking house’. Which is the final page from The Stonekeepers. I’ve enjoyed the Kibuishi edited Flight books for several years already. Here’s the preview page for vol. 7. “Premium Cargo” is the best story! Daisy Kutter was good Old West Steampunk fun, but Amulet raises the bar. Not that the story is new. Kid enters strange magical world, turns out to be The Chosen One With A Special Power, has to fight the Dark Power with the help of a small band of fellow fighters and scrappy sidekicks. But it really bounces along in a clever and good-hearted way. Solid dialogue, distinctive characterizations. Nice mix of humor and seriousness and action and sweeping visual spectacle. Stylistically, and world-design-wise, Kibuishi owes a lot to a lot of folks, from Jeff Smith to Hayao Miyazaki. But he’s got his own style, for sure, and it’s a distinct pleasure just to flip through the pages.



Dave Maier 11.28.10 at 6:09 pm

Amulet is okay — I’ll check out v.3 when the library gets it — but for my money Flight is the real treat. Of course I’m not 6-9 years old, so ymmv.


grackle 11.28.10 at 9:42 pm

Thanks for the tip! Ordered for the grandchild as soon as I saw this. I’m especially grateful for your kids recommendation.


Helen 11.29.10 at 12:50 am

Does anyone have any good ideas for the mid-teens?


John Holbo 11.29.10 at 1:19 am

Hi Dave. Yeah, “Amulet” is definitely for kids, but I really enjoyed it a lot more than I enjoy most stuff aimed at this age. A lot of little things go right. Example: I read it out loud (6-year old can’t read yet, 9-year old isn’t fully up to speed) and find it’s really easy to do a different voice for each character. Good writing. Somehow it manages to hit that “Raiders of the Lost Ark” sweet spot of genre cliche that feels clean and direct rather than just done-before. (“Bone” meets “Laputa: City in the Sky”.)

Also, it’s unpredictable. I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict the heroine wins through in the end, and saves the world. But, three volumes in, I have no idea how that’s going to happen.

Also, I find it seriously difficult to find enough books with girl heroines. Also, boys will like it fine because, as in any fantasy story, there are plenty of good boy characters, too.

Helen, I don’t really know. I think by the mid-teens it depends a lot on the individual teen-ager.


ArC 11.29.10 at 11:30 pm

Yes, I love Amulet and Kibuishi’s other books. Expanding from there, I’ve actually been quite impressed with a lot of Scholastic’s graphic novel lineup: the Bone prequel by Smith and Charles Vess, the Good Neighbors series (am a big fan of Ted Naifeh, the artist), Kibuishi’s Copper…


John Holbo 11.30.10 at 5:10 am

Haven’t tried “Good Neighbors”, ArC – will have to give it a look-see – but I agree that Scholastic is doing surprisingly well with the “Bone” stuff, as well. I am strangely lukewarm on “Copper”, despite liking everything else Kibuishi does.

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