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[Nonfiction Wednesday] Hamilton’s Life in Comic Book Format

Alexander Hamilton... in Comic!


Myra here.

We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2020 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.

Show Me History! Alexander Hamilton (Amazon | Book Depository)

Created by Mark Shulman and Kelly Tindall and John Roshell
Published by Portable Press (2019)
ISBN: 168412543X (ISBN13: 9781684125432) Review copy provided by publisher. Book photos taken by me.

It has been years since the musical play Hamilton played by an almost exclusively POC cast has taken the world by storm. This year, Lin Manuel-Miranda has agreed to show the entire play on Disney which has inevitably trickled down to me and my family, living in the United Arab Emirates. What a gift, indeed. It is not surprising that after watching the two hour play, I was intrigued enough to hunt down this comic book which I received from the publisher at the time of its publication to know more about Hamilton’s life.

The entire narrative is written in a playful and accessible manner for young readers. There is the assumption that since it is set in a very different historical period, contemporary children of today may find it difficult to resonate with what Hamilton has gone through – first as a young child, and as an adult. Hence, not only was it delivered in comic-book format, there were also clear attempts to make the narrative slightly comical.

There were many things made clearer to me through this story. While there were attempts in the beginning of the story to distinguish between actual quotes in golden color balloons; and a different kind of typography to refer to what Hamilton actually wrote or stated based on history, all these things kind of blurred as one read the narrative, because there were just too many colored balloons, and a few narrator inserts that can be confusing rather than illuminating.

The main themes of the story, though: Hamilton’s brilliance, his fierce determination, his being a prolific writer, his connection with George Washington, the tragedy that befell his life, his infidelity, and his eventual death were all introduced here in broad strokes, but with sufficient detail as well to make it a bit more meaty and historically substantial.

For those who have been caught by the Hamilton bug, this is a good introduction for young readers to get them more aware of the historical context in a fairly accessible and engaging manner. Naturally, let me end this review with some Hamilton love, back when the White house was peopled by well-meaning, generous-hearted, honourable individuals.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

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