SUMMARY: Traveling salesman Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into a dung beetle.
REVIEW: There’s an episode of Seinfeld where George Costanza decides that he will always “go out on a high note.” That is, whenever he does or says something completely brilliant or funny, he will just leave the room so everyone else can bask in his inherent awesomeness. The moment is worth reliving again, so here’s my man George, going out on a high note:
If I left today after a high note, I would have had to leave school at about 9:45 this morning. Every now and then, I have a day where I am so happy to be a librarian that I could just burst from the inside. That day was today. I read The Metamorphosis as book #10 of my 2016 Graphic Novel Challenge and booktalked it with a class of 6th graders this morning. I read a couple of passages aloud and walked around to show the beautiful illustrations. I kid you not, they were arguing over who got to read it next. It wasn’t a MineCraft book or the latest Justin Beiber biography. This is Kafka, people! And my 6th graders are excited about it! Peace out!
I first read Kafka’s short story “The Metamorphosis” in a college World Lit class. I loved the story back then, and I think after today, I love it even more. It’s weird and surreal. No one knows why Gregor Samsa turned into a dung beetle. He just did. I kept picturing Jeff Goldblum’s “BrundleFly” throwing up on Geena Davis the whole time. It IS disgusting, BrundleFly.
Here’s that one, just for kicks:
The illustrations are what really make this book pop. The text is adapted from the original short story, but the words themselves appear as part of the illustrations. For example, in the scene where Gregor first learns to crawl on the walls and ceiling, the words are crawling all around the page, too. Some words are written on Gregor’s beetle back. One really cool illustration features Gregor drowning inside a sand timer, with the words following him down, down, down through the sand. And when things get more desperate for Gregor, the illustrations make us feel sorry for him when he is thirsty, or can’t get that apple out of his back, or is dying from loneliness and shame.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Love, love, love this book! I saw that Peter Kuper also illustrated a graphic novel of Sinclair’s The Jungle. On order!
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We have it.
READALIKES: The Jungle (Kuper, Sinclair)
- Overall: 5/5
- Creativity: 5/5
- Characters: 5/5
- Engrossing: 5/5
- Writing: 5/5
- Appeal to teens: 5/5
- Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5
- Language: none
- Sexuality: none
- Violence: very mild; Gregor’s dad throws apples at him
- Drugs/Alcohol: none
- Other: Sensitive readers will not like the ending.