Friday, June 22, 2012

Marathon - a review

 Yakin, Boaz and Joe Infurnari. 2012. Marathon. New York: First Second
Advance Reader Copy

From the publisher's website,

In 490BC, an Athenian messenger named Eucles ran 153 miles from Sparta to Athens, and in so doing preserved ancient Greek civilization from subjugation to the Persian Empire.

This is his story.

The Greek and Persian wars are standard fare in the history books of middle and high schoolers, but it's doubtful that school text books can generate the same interest level as this sparsely tinted graphic novel treatment of the epic run that made the town of Marathon synonymous with running -  Eucles' race against time and foes to save Athens from the advancing Persian army of King Darius.

Alternating between shades of gray for flashbacks of Eucles' youth, and shades of brown for the present, Joe Infurnari's illustrations are teeming with action and intensity, frequently spilling between panels. Some scenes do require close inspection to differentiate between the similarly swarthy characters and combatants not clothed in signature battle dress.

Flashbacks notwithstanding, the story is chronological from the point of the runner, though sections are divided not by time, but by distance and destination,

"'Distance from Athens to Sparta: 153 Sparta," "Distance from Sparta to Marathon: 158 miles," and finally, with pursuers close behind, "26 miles to Athens," to deliver the final message of warning,

It's Eucles!
Eucles returns!
What news?
Does our army stand?

Victory is ours.
-but the Persian fleet approaches.
They will arrive ... before our army is able to march back to defend the city.
The final 26 miles is the basis for our modern marathon races.  This year, the spirit of Eucles and Ancient Greece will live on in the city of London's 2012 Olympic Games. Information on the 2012 Olympic Marathon race in London (including a route map) is available here.

View a 7-page excerpt from Marathon here.

Aptly suggested for grades 7 and up.

The graphic novel format brings new life to ancient history.  This title should be especially appealing to boys.

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