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The Breadwinner: A Graphic Novel

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This beautiful graphic-novel adaptation of The Breadwinner animated film tells the story of eleven-year-old Parvana who must disguise herself as a boy to support her family during the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan. Parvana lives with her family in one room of a bombed-out apartment building in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital city. Parvana’s father — a history teacher until his This beautiful graphic-novel adaptation of The Breadwinner animated film tells the story of eleven-year-old Parvana who must disguise herself as a boy to support her family during the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan. Parvana lives with her family in one room of a bombed-out apartment building in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital city. Parvana’s father — a history teacher until his school was bombed and his health destroyed — works from a blanket on the ground in the marketplace, reading letters for people who cannot read or write. One day, he is arrested for having forbidden books, and the family is left without someone who can earn money or even shop for food. As conditions for the family grow desperate, only one solution emerges. Forbidden to earn money as a girl, Parvana must transform herself into a boy, and become the breadwinner. Readers will want to linger over this powerful graphic novel with its striking art and inspiring story.


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This beautiful graphic-novel adaptation of The Breadwinner animated film tells the story of eleven-year-old Parvana who must disguise herself as a boy to support her family during the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan. Parvana lives with her family in one room of a bombed-out apartment building in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital city. Parvana’s father — a history teacher until his This beautiful graphic-novel adaptation of The Breadwinner animated film tells the story of eleven-year-old Parvana who must disguise herself as a boy to support her family during the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan. Parvana lives with her family in one room of a bombed-out apartment building in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital city. Parvana’s father — a history teacher until his school was bombed and his health destroyed — works from a blanket on the ground in the marketplace, reading letters for people who cannot read or write. One day, he is arrested for having forbidden books, and the family is left without someone who can earn money or even shop for food. As conditions for the family grow desperate, only one solution emerges. Forbidden to earn money as a girl, Parvana must transform herself into a boy, and become the breadwinner. Readers will want to linger over this powerful graphic novel with its striking art and inspiring story.

30 review for The Breadwinner: A Graphic Novel

  1. 4 out of 5

    Scott S.

    This was an interesting and timely story idea, but I'm not sure about the final result. (Apparently this was also preceded by a regular chapter book and animated film adaptation.) A pre-teen Afghan girl disguises herself as a boy after her father is incarcerated and the family subsequently suffers from lack of food and money amidst Taliban rule. While I think the courageous Parvana is an appealing and original protagonist in this YA-themed edition, the occasional choppiness (there were at least This was an interesting and timely story idea, but I'm not sure about the final result. (Apparently this was also preceded by a regular chapter book and animated film adaptation.) A pre-teen Afghan girl disguises herself as a boy after her father is incarcerated and the family subsequently suffers from lack of food and money amidst Taliban rule. While I think the courageous Parvana is an appealing and original protagonist in this YA-themed edition, the occasional choppiness (there were at least two times I checked to see if I had skipped a page, thinking I missed something) and sudden, abrupt ending - though the lack of definitive resolution is probably more realistic than any of us would care to admit - make this sad but relevant story seem like a slightly rushed version to adult readers.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rod Brown

    So this is a graphic novel adaptation of an animated movie adaptation of a book. I usually try to avoid something this watered down, but I knew I could read this slim little volume in a fraction of the time it would take me to watch the movie or read the original book, and I was unlikely to do either of those things anyway. This is a sad story about an Afghan family suffering under oppressive Taliban rule. For context, the original book was published about a month after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, So this is a graphic novel adaptation of an animated movie adaptation of a book. I usually try to avoid something this watered down, but I knew I could read this slim little volume in a fraction of the time it would take me to watch the movie or read the original book, and I was unlikely to do either of those things anyway. This is a sad story about an Afghan family suffering under oppressive Taliban rule. For context, the original book was published about a month after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, or about the same time the U.S. began military operations against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Thinking about how sad things were before the onset of 17 years of continual war and what they must be like now is just plain depressing. The author wrote three sequel books, so I suppose I don't need to just imagine, but honestly I'd rather not go down this road of suffering right now.

  3. 5 out of 5

    La Coccinelle

    This graphic novel is apparently based on an animated film, which I haven't seen. To be frank, I think I would've rather seen the film. I don't know if it's the e-book format or what, but the text adaptation is absolutely horrendous. Unfortunately, this detracts from what could be a moving story. Parvana lives with her parents and siblings in Kabul. One day her father is taken away and thrown in jail, leaving the family without a means of support. Parvana cuts her hair and disguises herself as a This graphic novel is apparently based on an animated film, which I haven't seen. To be frank, I think I would've rather seen the film. I don't know if it's the e-book format or what, but the text adaptation is absolutely horrendous. Unfortunately, this detracts from what could be a moving story. Parvana lives with her parents and siblings in Kabul. One day her father is taken away and thrown in jail, leaving the family without a means of support. Parvana cuts her hair and disguises herself as a boy so she can go out into the city and make a living. Meanwhile, her mother has arranged a marriage for her older sister, and war is coming. Parvana makes a desperate attempt to see her father in jail, while her mother and siblings end up being taken away by family members. The book ends like many graphic novels do, as if it's to be continued in future installments (which I don't think is the case here). So I'm not sure if I like the ending; there are a lot of unanswered questions. The story and setting are fraught with peril and heartache, but I found it kind of difficult to concentrate on those things when the text was so abysmal. It wasn't even a matter of a few typos (although there was a rather spectacular one with "first" spelled as "fiflrst"). Every instance of the word "find" seemed to be capitalized. Random words were in all caps. Half the names started with lowercase letters (but only some of the time). There were missing spaces all over the place so words ran together. I have no idea what happened with the text, but it's awful. Its only saving grace is that it's still intelligible enough to get the gist of the story. If the physical editions of the graphic novel don't have these technical issues, then this is a decent book. As to the version I read, it seemed like it was rushed and slapped together just to cash in on the popularity of the film. And that's disappointing.

  4. 4 out of 5

    CYNTHIA °˖✧◝(⁰▿⁰)◜✧˖°

    Damn, I wish I could forget about this book. So that I could read this again and experience all the spectacular emotions, characters, artwork, and storyline again. *sniff*

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kristen (BeyondSecretPages)

    But...I still don't get the title.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Evan Yang

    Overall, the pictures were great! But the other didn't draw enough pictures to show feelings and emotions. And I feel like the ending was rushed. So I wouldn't recommend this to anyone. And I was really confused with the title because this main character doesn't even sell bread. I thought breadwinner was a person who sells bread... I searched it on Google and it actually means someone who earns money to support their family.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Brett

    While I enjoyed the story and courage of the main character, Parvana, the graphic novel relied too heavily on the images to tell such an emotional and complex story. This version would serve best as a supplemental text to provide context and imagery for struggling readers. I would not recommend using it as a stand-alone instructional resource.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Lafleur

    4.5/5

  9. 4 out of 5

    Shauna Yusko

    If you want a slim graphic novel adaptation of the book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    Beautiful graphic novel about an Afghani girl who poses as a boy to help her family survive after her father is arrested. I found this to be a powerful story but I am confused that the story ended so abruptly with no final resolution.

  11. 5 out of 5

    A Lib Tech Reads

    The Breadwinner: A Graphic Novel Deborah Ellis Rating: 4/5 Note:Special thanks to Groundwood Books for providing a copy for review. I have not read the Breadwinner novel or watched the movie yet, so this is the first time I have come across this well-known heart-breaking tale. I particularly love the art style and thought it was reminiscent of the 90's animations I watched growing up. It's simple yet it captures the lighting and the shadows perfectly in each scene. The details in the background also The Breadwinner: A Graphic Novel Deborah Ellis Rating: 4/5 Note:Special thanks to Groundwood Books for providing a copy for review. I have not read the Breadwinner novel or watched the movie yet, so this is the first time I have come across this well-known heart-breaking tale. I particularly love the art style and thought it was reminiscent of the 90's animations I watched growing up. It's simple yet it captures the lighting and the shadows perfectly in each scene. The details in the background also cannot be missed as the setting of Kabul Afghanistan comes to life behind the comings and goings of the characters. I particularly enjoyed the change in art styles during the tale of the Silk Road. The vibrant colours along with the almost 3Dish way it is presented highlight the clever technique of telling a story within a story; I could imagine it as the beautiful stop-motion animations that I favour. It's difficult to adapt a novel into a movie that will please all readers, and it's even more difficult to then adapt that movie into a graphic novel. This is why I am especially impressed with this book. In the short 78 pages or so, it is able to tell a poignant story in a straightforward manner; there is never a lull in the plot for this graphic novel medium. It also conveys the personalities of the cast of characters so that they each come across as individuals with their own beliefs and opinions. I find that in some YA novels I read, multiple characters end up blending into one another without distinguishable traits, but I did not see that happen in the Breadwinner. Parvana is a strong and courageous female protagonist, one who is also very young and a lot more mature than you'd expect, and you can't help but admire her persistence to find her Baba. You could see the heartache and pain captured in both her and Mama-Jan's eyes in many distressing scenes. I'll admit that I had no plans to watch the movie or to even add the Breadwinner to my reading list of 2018, but after devouring this graphic novel in just an hour, it's at the top of that list now.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rebekah Gyger

    What drew me to this graphic novel was the story matter. A few months back, I watched a short youtube documentary about girls in this situation of having to dress as boys to help their families. I had never heard of the original book or the animated movie, so I went in to reading it without much of an expectation. The story is one that is very beautiful and powerful, despite the depressing nature of the situation. All of the members of Parvana's family are extremely courageous. I felt that the a What drew me to this graphic novel was the story matter. A few months back, I watched a short youtube documentary about girls in this situation of having to dress as boys to help their families. I had never heard of the original book or the animated movie, so I went in to reading it without much of an expectation. The story is one that is very beautiful and powerful, despite the depressing nature of the situation. All of the members of Parvana's family are extremely courageous. I felt that the artwork highlighted their lives beautifully as well, though I know other reviews have criticized that much of it was taken from stills of the animation. However, I personally don't believe that the graphic novel suffered for this. I also don't think that anything was lost in the abruptness of the ending. In a way, not knowing what happens drives home the struggle of surviving in a country like this, at the mercy of powers beyond your control. And as I have learned recently from reading other graphic novels, they often do end abruptly. Yet I was not disappointed with this story's conclusion as I have been with others, and it may be that there will be more to follow.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alicia

    Having literally just watched the animated film adaptation a few weeks ago, then seeing the delivery of the graphic novel in a new box of books, I was surprised and excited. It was literally the same animated style of the movie. I think I could have appreciated the movie better having read the graphic novel first because the style works well. It's a beautiful introduction to the story just like the picture books about Malala's story before reading her adult biography, etc. There is conversation Having literally just watched the animated film adaptation a few weeks ago, then seeing the delivery of the graphic novel in a new box of books, I was surprised and excited. It was literally the same animated style of the movie. I think I could have appreciated the movie better having read the graphic novel first because the style works well. It's a beautiful introduction to the story just like the picture books about Malala's story before reading her adult biography, etc. There is conversation about equality of men and women, physical fitness, access to food and water, family, religion, and politics all in the neatly-done package of a graphic adaptation, I'm sure Ellis is happy with this. Definitely ordering additional copies now that I had one to read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Urbandale Library

    This graphic novel adaptation of the story of a young girl who must disguise herself as a boy to help her family. The story takes place in Afghanistan during Taliban rule. The story opened my eyes to the range of devastation and control the Taliban exerted over the population, largely targeted at women. The animated film won many awards and this adaptation has as well, which sparked my interest. It certainly was well worth the read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    In those times, girls can't go out alone and only boys can go out. Unluckily, the girl named Paravana's dad have a broken leg, all of Paravana's sibling are too young. She made herself as a boy and make her family members live. Her father was arrested for letting her daughter out alone. She faced alot of challenges while finding her dad. You should read this book!!!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Scott Whitney

    This is my first with this story. I will have to read the book now that I am having trouble getting this story out of my mind.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mary Tuttle

    Beautifully illustrated story of a girl who must disguise herself as a boy in order to help her family survive in Taliban-occupied Afghanistan.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dani

    This is such a powerful story and it’s translation to a graphic novel was almost flawless. However, it was quite obvious in several spreads that the images were simply stills taken from the animated film. This didn’t diminish the strength of the story, but I think I would have preferred to have either read the novel or seen the movie.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ellyn → Allonsythornraxx

    15/03/18 I can't wait for my youner brother and younger readers in general, to read this. I definitely have to watch the movie soon now too. So glad I stumbled upon this at the library.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kelwalin Dhanasarnsombut

    “We are a land whose people are its greatest treasure. We are at the edges of empires at war with each other. We are a fractured land in the claws of the Hindu Kush mountains, scorched by the fiery eyes of the northern desert. Black rubble earth against ice peaks — we are Ariana, the land of the noble.” #book #graphicnovel #english #TED [2018/14]

  21. 4 out of 5

    Motherbooker

    From my review at motherbookerblog.com: "The Breadwinner is set in Kabul in 2001 when Afghanistan is under Taliban rule. It tells the story of 11-year-old Parvana and her family. Parvana’s father is forced to sell goods on the side of the road to support his family and uses his younger daughter to help him. After a run-in with a young member of the Taliba, Parvana’s father is arrested without good cause. The family now have no adult male relative so the female are unable to go out of the house. W From my review at motherbookerblog.com: "The Breadwinner is set in Kabul in 2001 when Afghanistan is under Taliban rule. It tells the story of 11-year-old Parvana and her family. Parvana’s father is forced to sell goods on the side of the road to support his family and uses his younger daughter to help him. After a run-in with a young member of the Taliba, Parvana’s father is arrested without good cause. The family now have no adult male relative so the female are unable to go out of the house. With the help of her elder sister, Parvana is transformed to disguise her as a boy. She is then able to go out to buy food and attempt to make a living. In order to keep them safe, Parvana’s mother makes arrangements for the family to move away but she is too concerned about her father to agree to go. Can she save her father before it’s too late? Or will she be forced to leave with the rest of her family? The basic premise of The Breadwinner is a fantastic one. It is impossible not to be caught up in the desperate need for a young girl to pretend to be a boy in order to keep the family afloat. It is a tale of courage and sacrifice that tells an important story about humanity. It is a tale full of emotions and danger, which sits in very recent history. The Breadwinner is dealing with powerful ideas and the story is engaging. However, I can’t help but feel this isn’t the correct format for the subject matter. I know this is a graphic novel based on a film that itself is based on a novel so it’s safe to say this will be a very watered down version. There is no escaping that the whole narrative feels rushed and very simplistic. We don’t really get a sense of the characters or their situation. It’s often difficult to understand what is going on in a scene until a few panels later. Sometimes it’s as if a few panels have been missed or a large chunk of the story has been forgotten. And the ending feels very abrupt and unfinished. I just wish it could have been more. This is a tale that is full of emotion but you don’t really feel the emotional pull in this format. Even if this is a version for younger readers, it doesn’t really do the best with the material at hand. It feels as though it would take a lot of additional knowledge or explanation to help young readers understand. And there are so many threads that just stay hanging. There is no real resolution to any of the story and no real sense of the purpose of the novel. Yes, it’s teaching us about being strong and brave in difficult situations: about doing what you need to do to survive. But there is so much missing or glossed over. It doesn’t seem to go far enough to teach a reader about this era. Maybe it would do the job as a conversation starter but nothing more. Although, I have to say the illustrations are quite wonderful. The characters themselves feels realistic and the settings are all beautiful. I love the use of lighting and the way movement is suggested. What this book lacks in depth it certainly makes up for with it aesthetic. But, again, this just makes me feel as though you should just watch the film. My main issue with this book is that I don’t understand why it exists if the story has already been told in other forms. Especially other forms that would be more fitting to tell the tale fully."

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kelsey!

    I saw this graphic novel on the shelf at the library and was intrigued, since the animated film adaptation is currently on my Netflix list of things to watch and this seemed like it would be a relatively quick read. (I wasn't aware it all stemmed from a novel of the same name, at this point.) I tried to prepare myself for the emotional labor that I was sure would accompany this-- reading about oppression and suffering is never easy, but it seems infinitely harder when your country is perpetuatin I saw this graphic novel on the shelf at the library and was intrigued, since the animated film adaptation is currently on my Netflix list of things to watch and this seemed like it would be a relatively quick read. (I wasn't aware it all stemmed from a novel of the same name, at this point.) I tried to prepare myself for the emotional labor that I was sure would accompany this-- reading about oppression and suffering is never easy, but it seems infinitely harder when your country is perpetuating it-- and finally dove into it. It was alright. The artwork was stunning, it was a heart-wrenching story, and I learned more about Afghanistan and its painful history of occupation-- but this slim volume oversimplifies everything. I wanted to see it delve deeper (so as to elaborate on, well, pretty much everything) but condensing it to an 80 page graphic novel means that plot points seemed to breeze past without due attention. I'm torn on the ending: (view spoiler)[though it's definitely symbolic of the ongoing conflict to which the people of Afghanistan are subjected, it was a wholly unsatisfying place to end. Does the family get reunited? Does Parvana see Shauzia/Deliwar again? Where does the family go from here? (hide spoiler)] An important tale to tell but the shortness of the graphic novel is to its detriment. Hopefully it will encourage kids to seek out more literature on the topic of military control in Afghanistan.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Elna

    I've never actually read The Breadwinner, so I can't compare it to the novel or anything like that. The art is nice - it looks a little computer generated to me (I'm not entirely sure what I mean by that, though - the edges are too smooth? Everything is a little too glossy and put together?). (view spoiler)[It seems like it ends so incredibly abruptly. I appreciate that everything is uncertain in times of war, and you don't get clear answers, but this seemed set up to give you all that. Parvana m I've never actually read The Breadwinner, so I can't compare it to the novel or anything like that. The art is nice - it looks a little computer generated to me (I'm not entirely sure what I mean by that, though - the edges are too smooth? Everything is a little too glossy and put together?). (view spoiler)[It seems like it ends so incredibly abruptly. I appreciate that everything is uncertain in times of war, and you don't get clear answers, but this seemed set up to give you all that. Parvana makes a promise to her friend to meet her in twenty years, she's reunited with her father, her mother and sister don't leave... but nothing is wrapped up and it seemed to be leading to. How will the family find each other again? Her mother and her sister are two young women walking around outside the city alone, which is dangerous normally, but we saw her mother beat up earlier in the book for doing the exact same thing! And now that they have their father back, what now? He's still unable to work, and the city is getting dangerous for more than just women. I'm not sure if the novel ends like this as well (and I know there are sequels to the novel, so those probably answer some questions), but it's suddenness is a little shocking. (hide spoiler)]

  24. 4 out of 5

    SaraKat

    I saw this graphic novel at my school library and was intrigued. I liked it well enough, but didn't realize it was a graphic novelization of a book series. I probably would have rather read the book. It was a disappointing ending to the book, but I realized that it was a series after that. So now I have to read the book series to find out what happens! The story is depressing, but then the whole situation is depressing in real-life so this can't help it. I thought Parvana was such a brave little I saw this graphic novel at my school library and was intrigued. I liked it well enough, but didn't realize it was a graphic novelization of a book series. I probably would have rather read the book. It was a disappointing ending to the book, but I realized that it was a series after that. So now I have to read the book series to find out what happens! The story is depressing, but then the whole situation is depressing in real-life so this can't help it. I thought Parvana was such a brave little girl and I admire her pluck. The fact that so many others in the town knew about her and didn't say anything proves that not everyone in the place has extreme views and that a few in charge can cause huge problems. This is an important lesson for people to learn since there are innocents involved in all of those areas we black out on maps and write off as bad.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Carly

    I normally don't read graphic novels. Growing up I enjoyed using my imagination to picture what was happening in books. I never really liked watching movie after reading the books either, there is only so much special effects can do to match the images you can have in your head. That being said, I've been struggling this year to sit down and actually put time toward reading. I only read one novel this summer and barely made it to the library. The start of the school year has been even more busy. I normally don't read graphic novels. Growing up I enjoyed using my imagination to picture what was happening in books. I never really liked watching movie after reading the books either, there is only so much special effects can do to match the images you can have in your head. That being said, I've been struggling this year to sit down and actually put time toward reading. I only read one novel this summer and barely made it to the library. The start of the school year has been even more busy. So I've diverted most of my attention to graphic novels as a new way of relaxation, without having to delve into a huge amount of text to read. I really enjoyed this graphic novel and reflecting on a book I read so long ago. I liked the graphics and the ease of the story.

  26. 4 out of 5

    erin

    Hadn't gotten my eyes on either the books or animated film that this is based on, but kiddo and I read this together and it was a telling of this story that still prompted many questions and opportunities to learn and talk about occupation, war, gender, and oppression. Kiddo really enjoyed the story and learning -- gives is 4.5 stars. I'm all for many formats for stories such as this, so I land there as well. Especially appreciate the historical note at the end of the book that provides more con Hadn't gotten my eyes on either the books or animated film that this is based on, but kiddo and I read this together and it was a telling of this story that still prompted many questions and opportunities to learn and talk about occupation, war, gender, and oppression. Kiddo really enjoyed the story and learning -- gives is 4.5 stars. I'm all for many formats for stories such as this, so I land there as well. Especially appreciate the historical note at the end of the book that provides more context for the story, and recognizes that hope, kindness, and courage can still be found even in the midst of struggle.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Emkoshka

    When I was in Kilkenny, Ireland, back in May this year, The Breadwinner was about to be released as a film and I was able to visit an exhibition of drawings and stills. I'd never come across the novel before and wish I had. This graphic novelisation is too fast-paced and lacking in detail to enable you to feel a strong connection with the characters and their struggles. The ending also doesn't give you any closure or faith in a good outcome for the characters. An important story, but I feel that When I was in Kilkenny, Ireland, back in May this year, The Breadwinner was about to be released as a film and I was able to visit an exhibition of drawings and stills. I'd never come across the novel before and wish I had. This graphic novelisation is too fast-paced and lacking in detail to enable you to feel a strong connection with the characters and their struggles. The ending also doesn't give you any closure or faith in a good outcome for the characters. An important story, but I feel that the original novel or film would be better ways to encounter it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Armbruster

    Other than the academy award nomination for the animated film, I knew nothing about The Breadwinner when I began reading. The graphic novel offers broad strokes and emotional punches, but without the author’s historical note at the finale, I would have only had a surface understanding of the story. A worthy addition to school graphic novel collections. Older readers will see the depth of menace suggested on the page, where as less savvy readers will feel the emotion without being inundated with o Other than the academy award nomination for the animated film, I knew nothing about The Breadwinner when I began reading. The graphic novel offers broad strokes and emotional punches, but without the author’s historical note at the finale, I would have only had a surface understanding of the story. A worthy addition to school graphic novel collections. Older readers will see the depth of menace suggested on the page, where as less savvy readers will feel the emotion without being inundated with overt violence.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mrs. Tongate

    A must read in both formats (graphic novel and print). "Afghans know war. Yet there are so many people in that country who get out of bed each morning and spend their days trying to make things a little better for their family, their community and their country. This everyday kindness takes tremendous courage, and we can join them by doing what we can, where we can and when we can to make the world a kinder place for everyone." ~Deborah Ellis

  30. 5 out of 5

    Calista

    This beautiful graphic-novel adaptation of The Breadwinner animated film tells the story of eleven-year-old Parvana who must disguise herself as a boy to support her family during the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan. This is an exceptional story that enlightens the reader about circumstances beyond comprehension and helps improve understanding that all of us in this global community share the same hopes, dreams, and fears. Everyone should read this.

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