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The Young Inferno Hardcover – 4 Sep 2008
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What a briliant idea combining the skills of wordsmith, John Agard, and illustrator Satoshi Kitamura, this is an updating of Dante's Inferno for our times and for a younger readership. It is an irresistible package, with a poetic feast of finery, and artwork from one of our finest picture book artists, which will amuse intrigue and inspire. This is a must for children of all ages. (Publishing News)
Dante’s Inferno reincarnated in a graphic novel format and retold with the sharpest wit by the brilliant John Agard, this visually intriguing book is a wonderfully accessible way into the classic… This book is every English teacher’s dream and so much more. (Bookseller)
John Agard's Young Inferno transposes Date's epic poem into the modern day, as we follow a hoodie-clad protagonist who is guided by Aesop through each of the nine circles of hell. Satoshi Kitamura's lively illustrations draw on a diverse range of influences - from Biblical to cinematic - in this wide reaching and ambitious work. it is an energetic, high impact version of one of the seminal texts in literature. (Bookseller)
Kitamura's black and white drawings take on a new freedom and ferocity. As the teenage hoodie narrator makes his way down the gutter of the book and into the nine circles of hell, the line is more authoritative and emphatic than ever, excitingly varied in tone and texture, responding to every nuance of Agard's text. There are intriguing portraits of hell's inhabitants, including political figures of our own time, and aside from all the apocalyptic goings-on, there's a good measure of wit and romance too. (Guardian)
It's hard to imagine a more ambitious project than a child's version of Dante's Inferno, but thank goodness someone had the vision to commission John Agard to write YOUNG INFERNO and Satoshi Kitamura to illustrate it, because between them - with a nod to Dante, of course - they have created a masterpiece. Guided by Aesop instead of Virgil, we see Frankenstein as a bouncer outside Hell's Second Circle 'frisking souls for scandalous traces' and Einstein in the Third Circle:'How was he to know that his equation/would lead to two cities' devastation?/ All the more reason to cherish reason.' The astute child can look for clues in the illustrations as to who might be 'that smooth duo who caused much blood to flow/between the Tigris and Euphrates'. (Daily Telegraph)
A funky and powerful book. Agard takes Dante's famous poem about a visit to Hell and reworks it to today's youngsters, mingling 21st Century street cred with ancient mythology. Kitamura's stylised black and white illustrations draw the reader effortlessly in. (Northern Echo)
Agard's twenty-first century voice and his use of full and half rhyme lend this terrible journey a compelling rhythm and pace… Kitamura's silhouettes and edgy line drawings express the menace and foreboding inherent in what the boy sees, just as clearly as they capture the emotion of his reactions. The Agard-Kitamura partnership goes from strength to strength, and this is their most potent collaboration so far. (Ibby Link)
Satoshi Kitamura sets the journey on a monochromatic scenic route in black ink and watercolour, in a sequence of powerful, uncompromising images: a master work. (School Librarian)
John Agard's retelling of Dante's Inferno, superbly illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura, has an edgy, contemporary feel that should resonate well with its intended teenage audience… This is a thought provoking book with strong visual and acoustic appeal. Highly recommended for teenage readers. (INIS)
Rich with lively references, from Shakespeare and Wagner to the Bible and Beauty and the Beast, The Young Inferno gains strength thanks to Kitamura's illustrations which beautifully match the text with almost geometric images, silhouettes and scenes and bring an extra intensity to the words. (Bologna Bookfair Journal)
A red-hot youth-inspired interpretation of the original. Kitamura's illustrations are as immportant a part of the storytelling process as Agard's words. They form a potent combination. Forget what you think you know about ancient texts: this will have you hooked in no time. (Young Post)
A completely contemporary update to an old classic, Dante's Inferno by an author/illustrator marriage made in heaven. Agard's wickedly witty re-telling is set off to stunning effect by Kitamura's stylish and stylized, high energy illustrations in graphic novel format with plenty of detail to pour over. Follow Kitamura's hoodie-sporting protagonist through the nine circles of hell. It will be one of the most original reading journeys you'll ever take. (Riveting Reads SLA)
Winner of the CLPE Poetry Award: "The Young Inferno is a vibrant and brilliant re-telling for young people of Dante's classic. Agard finds ways to make the old new as we follow our hoodie hero through the nine circles of hell and back again… Always energetic and mentally dextrous, Agard's The Young Inferno puts us through the paces and brings us face to face with the Furies!" Jackie Kay, Poetry Award Judge (Books for Keeps)
A sharp and thoroughly modern take on Dante. (ABC Best Books for Children)
'One hopes that in this, the National Year of Reading, Frances Lincoln's wonderful Inferno will be read throughout the land.' (John Newman, The Newham Bookshop Publishing News)
I took the risk of promoting this exuberant collection at an academoc conference in Italy! Even a Dante scholar in the audience seemed charmed by Agard's 'take' on this classic text, superbly illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura who has become a regular illustrator of Agard's poetry. If it makes one reader go to the original, all to the good; there's plenty to admire in its own right in 13 dramatic cantos for teenage readers. (Morag Styles Books for Keeps)
From the Inside Flap
Can our hoodie hero make it through nine circles of Hell and back again? Will he find love with his soulmate Beatrice?
Discover the city of Dis where everybody disses everybody.
Meet Frankenstein, the lovesick bouncer with the bling-bling.
Come face to face with the Furies, a gang of snake-haired females in T-shirts. Prepare for a host of gluttons, bigots and plunderers from the world of history and politics.
John Agard fires Dante’s Inferno into the 21st century in a red-hot retelling, with wicked artwork from Satoshi Kitamura.
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What's really impressive is that he hasn't tried to dumb down the story for younger readers. While it's enormously entertaining, it's also quite serious, evoking a genuine sense of dread & despair when necessary, and including his own version of Dante's own coarse & dark humor when necessary. In a delightful innovation, he's replaced Virgil with Aesop as the young protagonist's guide through Hell, incorporating several of the classic fables -- an innovation that works because it's clever & smart.
I'd be remiss in not mentioning Agard's gifted collaborator, illustrator Satoshi Kitamura. From the opening lines, where the withered leaves on the trees in the dark wood are depicted as ghastly faces & skulls, almost subliminal at first, it's clear that the story will be as visually striking as the text. In some ways I'm reminded of the scathing drawings George Grosz created in 1930s Germany, vividly skewering the corruption of society from the bottom to the top.
If you're hoping to introduce younger readers to the classics, this is what you want -- a book that does justice to the original work, but can also stand on its own quite nicely. For those who've read Dante in many fine translations before, you're likely to be happily surprised by what you find here. For those coming to the story for the first time, it's as good an introduction as you're going to find -- highly recommended!
The young man truly became frightened when he approached a gate that said in part, "Abandon Hope All Who Enter Here." It was a screaming hellish nightmare. Charon soon arrived to ferry them across to the Otherworld. Aesop would guide him until they reached "Hell's Ninth Circle," but along the way he would see the dregs of society rotting for all eternity. He would see Frankenstein, the "Keeper of Hell's gate." There were those who had lived for the flesh, people of science and arts (even Einstein), the gluttons of the world, the big spenders (with the "glittering bling-bling"), and the tight-fisters ("bickering over cash"). There were those who dissed everyone, the fraudsters, those who "slaughtered the innocents" . . . somehow everyone was there. Would he escape from the bowels of Hell? Was there true love waiting for him at the end?
This was both an intriguing and unsettling work. This story is loosely based on Dante's Inferno, but is written in thirteen cantos. I was amazed at how accurately the nine circles portrayed the present day attitudes of certain types of "sinners," including those who constantly diss one another. For a young person there is a different kind of paradise awaiting at the end of this book. The artwork and story are simply amazing, but I'm not sure if this book is one that will be grabbed off the shelves by the young adult. As I see it, this book would be an amazing read and discuss book in the classroom setting. This is a modern day Inferno that lends itself to a lot of discussion!
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