Sunday, December 5, 2010

Yu the Great: Conquering the Flood

Yu the Great was an actual person, a dedicated civil servant who solved China's flood problem and went on to become emperor. He is considered the founder of the Xia Dynasty, the first dynasty in Chinese history and important as the beginning of a class society in China. This version of his story draws from myths and legends and tells his story with a fantastical bent. Here, Yu is the son of dragon, can talk to certain magic animals, can fly, and finds magic soil to help him in his endeavors. Many of the elements of his historical story, which come from a time period with little records, are told via symbols and figures.

This is another entry in Lerner Publishing's Graphic Universe series of myths and legends. The story is told by Paul D. Storrie, a frequent contributor to the series and the author of a growing number of comics and graphic novels, including adaptations of the Justice League cartoon and a series based on the Robin Hood legend. Sandy Carruthers drew this adaptation. He is also a frequent contributor to the Graphic Universe series of books but is also known for his work on Captain Canuck and, most famously, Men in Black, which became a blockbuster movie starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.

The comic book style art and story makes this a vivid book, and it is certainly a good comparison piece to read with the typical Greek and Roman myths we see. These two reviews by Chris Wilson and another author at the Graphic Classroom point to some of its positive features and also give some suggestions for potential classroom uses. The reviewers at Goodreads give a different impression: that it is a middle-of-the-road book. Like other entries in this series, it does rely on a good amount of academic research, and it has a glossary, further reading list, and other features that lend themselves to classroom use.

More information, reviews, and a preview are available here.

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