Your Turn, Adrian
Your Turn, Adrian
Sometimes the teacher asked me a question.
My heart was pounding. My head was in a fog.
My cheeks burned.
Adrian goes to school with knots in his stomach, and, each time the teacher calls on him, he can’t read or answer questions because of anxiety. This dynamic graphic novel spins Adrian’s story in three chapters through spare text and vivid gray scale and colour illustrations, contrasting his challenges with the radiant world of his imagination wherein he is a daring circus performer capable of amazing acrobatics. Adrian’s classmates offer troubling speech-bubble reactions from critical to impatient, and, in the opening sequence, readers see bullying from another boy. The first chapter closes with panels of a warm home life but with busy parents who aren’t given the full story from their son. At this point, a reader feels deeply the hopelessness of Adrian’s situation.
In the second chapter, a chance encounter with a lost dog unfolds into companionship and support for this lonely boy. Heidi and Adrian are immediately inseparable, and, to match his changing mood, Adrian’s day-to-day activities appear in colour. Reading to the wolfhound builds Adrian’s confidence, and she accompanies him to school where suddenly Adrian is able to read in public.
The final chapter puts a barrier in the way of Adrian’s ongoing success when Heidi blithely returns to her original owner. It seems as if Adrian is slipping back into old patterns when suddenly he’s befriended by Heidi’s owner, an elderly woman who is almost blind. Now he reads aloud to both the lady and her dog, and readers see her history as a circus performer brought to life.
Written by Helena Öberg and illustrated by Kristin Lidström, a team from Sweden, this edition is translated by Eva Apelqvist from the original published in 2015 by Mirando Bok, Stockholm. Readers will be interested in the evolution of the original book which is delineated in English on Lidström’s website: https://blog.picturebookmakers.com/post/132464344386/kristin-lidström
The best graphic novels demonstrate equal ownership of the storyline between text and image, and this one earns top marks. Suitable for struggling as well as avid readers, Your Turn, Adrian is suggested as a must-have resource for diverse classrooms and communities.
Bev Brenna is the author of over a dozen books for young people, including her “Wild Orchid” trilogy dealing with a teen protagonist who has Asperger’s Syndrome, and her most recent title Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life about family transition. She is also a professor at the University of Saskatchewan where her research interests include literacy and children’s literature.