All About Adolescent Literacy

All about adolescent literacy. Resources for parents and educators of kids in grades 4-12.
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Retelling The Inferno

Dante's Inferno, I'll admit, is one of those things I've never read, but I'm familiar enough with the cultural references to get the idea. With The Young Inferno , John Agard has taken this a step further.

Much like Shakespeare's works, those who read and know the works of Dante can find them bawdily funny, scary and dramatic. Those who have a tough time with the language, just find it a slog. In this book, masterfully illustrated in black ink by Satoshi Kitamura, those who have less than a passing familiarity with The Inferno can at least begin to appreciate the mood and tone of the work. Those who have read it will see how Agard has updated it with more current cultural references (ranging from Frankenstein to Hitler) but they keep perfectly with the canto they are in. Those who are struggling with it for an assignment may find a more youthful, easier to read version.

Don't get me wrong, it's NOT easy to read, just easier than the original. Some references flew right over my head. After reading some plot summaries of The Inferno and re-reading, I got a lot more of them.
But with just a passing familiarity, I still found that the book captured the tone of the work, and could work in a classroom as both a beginning to study of Dante, or as a wrap up to compare and contrast.

Publishers often do graphic retellings of books to assist in study, and frankly, most are pretty bad. Agard and Kitamura's vision is different, it's more of a repurposing than a retelling. 


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