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Young Adult Literature Reviews
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Persepolis: A Graphic Story of Childhood.
Marjane Satrapi. Persepolis. New York: Pantheon Books, 2003.
Part biography, part history,
, by Marjane Satrapi, is the tale of growing up during the
. Her world is filled with war, culture and class differences, torture, execution, and Michael Jackson buttons. Set against the backdrop of daily life in Iran, the tale, which is represented in the form of a graphic novel, shows the world through the eyes of a young girl trying to make sense of her two conflicting worlds. At home, she is free in both body and mind, but the public demands both obedience and tradition. This is a story of innocence, of coming of age, and most importantly seeing the world around you ravaged and having the heart to move forward.
Recommendations for Teachers
is a great story that could be taught in any secondary setting. There are many attributes of this story that would draw almost all students into it's grips. The first and most obvious of these attributes is that this story is a graphic novel. A graphic novel can be a double edged sword when used in the classroom. Graphic Novels are beneficial to the classroom in two major ways. First, they make for very quick reads; a lesson plan for this book could be as short as two weeks (depending on the proficiency of your class). Second, simply being a change of pace, graphic novels are often an easy sale to secondary students. The drawbacks to this book, or any graphic novel for that matter, is that some critics discredit works like this because they see it as "just a comic book." This resistance towards graphic novels by the majority of intellectuals and teachers alike is being eliminated as time goes on but regretfully there are still many critics who refuse to accept that graphic novels boast great accessibility to the story, offer amazing narrative styles, and offer a great amount of educational value in regards to teaching adolescent literature.
Like almost all good literature there are some factors of this book that could be construed as explicit or inappropriate.
is no exception.
has scenes of torture that are pretty intense and violent, yet unlike other graphic novels which have extremely detailed gruesome depictions of these scenes,
's intentionally basic drawing style alleviates allot of the possible gore. That being said, these torture scenes are still pretty rough and if one were to teach this book it would be very smart to get it cleared by both the administrators and parents – it is never a bad idea to prepare for the worst when planning curriculum. As recent times have shown, we as teachers should always be proactive in saving our own jobs. The language of Persepolis is easily understood by any secondary level student, yet there are a few choice words that could cause upset among parents and administration. This is not to say that swearing is a major problem in this book, but this book does contain the F-bomb, Sh, and damn - all of which could cause trouble.
's limited drawbacks (small censorship issues and ignorance towards graphic novels as a whole) are quickly outweighed by it's many educational gains. We as a group highly recommend teaching this book in any secondary classroom, although we do feel because of the depth of historical background needed to really understand the book, it would be wise to provide some of the history of Iran before delving in. We also feel that because of the level of maturity needed to "get through" the torture scenes of this book, it should be taught at the high school level or in an eight-grade honors course. Also, because
is such an easy read, it would be extremely suitable for an independent reading assignment as well as an in class reading unit. Teaching
as a long-term unit plan itself (i.e. full month/semester) – even with all it's depth - would feel too thin or stretched, but if accompanied by other material, perhaps a Middle-Eastern Studies Unit,
could make for a great long-term unit plan.
About Marjane Satrapi
Born November 22nd, 1969, in Rasht, Iran, Marjane Satrapi is a graphic novelist, illustrator and children's book author. She is best known for her autobiographical graphic novel
, now a full length animated movie. Sent to Vienna by her parents, to flee the Iranian regime in 1984, she later returned to Tehran for college. Marjane studied illustration at the Strasburg School of Decorative Arts. Much of her work is influenced by French comic artists. She writes an illustrated column in "The New York Times"
. She lives in the Marais district of Paris with her husband.
"I'm not a politician. I don't know how to solve the problems of the world. But as an artist, I have one duty: To ask questions."
"...unfortunately you know, most of the people, they consider animation much like comedies, as a genre. It's not a genre. It's a medium."
Biographical information from
. Photo Courtesy of
Multimedia (Video or Audio)
Persepolis podcast created by the authors of this page
Persepolis Feature Film - Trailer
Marjane Satrapi responding to critics who have labeled her graphic novel and film "anti-Iranian".
About the Author:
Confessions of Miss Mischief
Interview with Marjane Satrapi about her film.
The offical site for Pantheon Books, information about the author and her work.
Site devoted to Joann Sfar, graphic novelist and influence on Marjane Satrapi.
A Life in Graphic Detail
A biography of Marjane Satrapi from the Boston Globe
About the Book:
Oriental Institute - The Persian Expedition
A site with history of the Persian Empire.
Persepolis - Movies - New York Times Online
A site with good information regarding the story itself.
Persepolis - A review
- Another review with good information regarding the novel.
Sample pages of Satrapi's novel Persepolis
A sample to give you a taste of what
Epiphany In Baltimore
A teacher's blog about teaching the graphic novel
to 9th grade students.
Using Persepolis in a Women's Studies Course.
A blog like collection of reactions to the novel and the many issues it addresses.
Read Write Think: Lesson Plan
A great site that gives lesson plans, rubrics and many more instructional tools for using Persepolis and other books.
Comics in the Classroom
This site is for all those critics that don't believe graphic novels are classroom worthy.
ILLILE, Institute for Library and information Literacy Education
Another great site that offers lesson plans complete with video media, activities, instructional notes and standards.
How to Teach Graphic Novels
A four-step approach towards teaching graphic novels.
Coming of Age in a Multicultural Setting
One teachers account of using graphic novels, such as
, in literature to explore multiculturalism.
Using Comics and Graphic Novels in the Classroom
General article from
The Council Chronicle
about graphic novel use in classrooms.
Expanding Literacies through Graphic Novels (PDF)
Article that offers rational for the necessity of graphic novel use in the classroom.
Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes
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