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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. 4 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

    Kristen P

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Lafleur

    4.5/5

  7. 5 out of 5

    Shauna Yusko

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

  8. 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.

  9. 4 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.

  10. 5 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.

  11. 4 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.

  12. 5 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!!!

  13. 5 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 4 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.

  16. 4 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 5 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]

  19. 4 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.

  20. 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)]

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 5 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 4 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.

  26. 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

  27. 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.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jan Priddy

    I bought this for my granddaughter, who will be 7. I read it first and especially after the hearings, I do not want to explain to her why it is necessary for this girl to be in disguise, why her sister and little brother are risked, why her father dies, and all the rest of the brutality. It is beautiful, even so. "Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that makes the flower grow, not thunder."—Rumi

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    I have not read the children's novel "The Breadwinner," but after reading this graphic novel adaptation, I'm thinking I need to! This is the story of Parvana, a young girl living in Afghanistan whose father is taken to prison so she needs to become the breadwinner for her family. Gripping story that I keep thinking about even after finishing with the graphic novel. I'd love to read the children's novel with a book club!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    The graphic novel version of the original novel. This is aimed at an audience of children but is well done enough that it will give a huge amount to an adult audience too. The title refers to the girls who became breadwinners for their families by dressing as boys. There seem to be three novels so I hope there will be a fillow up to this. Graphic novels are a great way of exploring difficult moments of the recent past.

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