Asterix and the Picts by Jean-Yves Ferri, Rene Goscinny, Albert Uderzo and Didier Conrad

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Asterix and the Picts by Jean-Yves Ferri, Rene Goscinny, Albert Uderzo and Didier Conrad

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Category: Graphic Novels
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Margaret Young
Reviewed by Margaret Young
Summary: A delightful comic book adventure that is as enjoyable for adults as it for children.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 48 Date: October 2013
Publisher: Orion Children's Books
ISBN: 978-1444011678

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I've never been entirely certain if Asterix was written for children or adults. I am quite certain children were the original target audience, but it is equally apparent that many of the jokes are thrown in for adults as well. It does seem as if more adults are buying Asterix than children now, and comics in general have been taken over by the adult consumer, but Asterix still has plenty to offer the younger reader as well. If it is perhaps a bit more sophisticated than the average children's book today, all the better. I'm all for children's books that are light and easy to read, but I think we are doing our children a disservice by filtering out any book with a more complex vocabulary or a fair number of unfamiliar words. My children did find a few words like solidarity, fraternise and diaphanous challenging, but if we don't challenge them at all - how will they learn?

The adventure begins in the year 50 B.C. in Gaul. Rome seems to think they hold Gaul securely, but one small village of Gauls thinks otherwise. Asterix is a mighty warrior despite his small size, thanks in part to super powers bestowed by the village druid's potion. Obelix is his faithful sidekick, huge and strong, but the typical smart and small pairing with the big and simple. The story begins with two visitors - a timid Roman census taker and a huge Pict, frozen into a block of ice. The Gauls soon decide they must help this poor traveller return home to be reunited with his lost love. Of course things are never that simple. An evil chieftain has kidnapped the beautiful Camomilla and intends to force her into marriage. It is up to Asterix and Obelix to save the day, with a little help - or hindrance from Nessie.

If you find stereotypes offensive, this might not be your cup of tea. MacAroon is the embodiment of the stereotypical Scot. He has the blue tattoos, a tartan kilt and sporran, bright ginger hair and a very large physique. But if that isn't enough we'll soon have the Loch Ness Monster, caber tossing, bagpipes, whisky and plenty of phrases like Wha Hae. This is however a comic book and comics are meant to use caricatures. It is all in fun, and this book certainly is fun.

This is not at all historically accurate. I don't think it is meant to be so I won't waste paragraphs of typing on historical inaccuracies. All the same it does encourage some discussion of other places and times, and I do feel my children learned something from this, beyond expanding their vocabulary. But this is not a book one should read to gain an education. It is simply a story to enjoy. The illustrations are beautiful and quite true to the originals. The story is fun and moves along fast enough to keep even younger children interested, and the addition of the Loch Ness Monster is a real plus for the little ones. My children certainly enjoyed this, and I'm sure others will as well, but I suspect the main audience will be adults and now that we have read this together Asterix and the Picts has found its place... on my book shelf.

This book is of course not written by Rene Goscinny, nor is it illustrated by the much loved A.Uderzo. I believe the new author and illustrator have remained faithful to the original series though, and it is wonderful to see these characters brought to life for a new generation. I actually had to double check to make sure that this book was in fact a translation. It is. It has been translated with such skill and there are so many plays on the English language I can't imagine anything has been lost in the translation at all. The humour at any rate is universal.

For more of Asterix, have a look at Where's Asterix? by Albert Uderzo and Rene Goscinny.

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