Reviewed for Fifth Grade, 2008

The Man in the Iron Mask

Graphic novels are a great way to encourage a reluctant reader to turn off the television, take a break from the video game, and get between the pages of a good story. But Barron's Graphic Classics Series does more than just distract kids for a second: it brings alive classic literature in comic book style with lively images and easy-to-comprehend dialogue that will suck even the most reluctant reader into the fray. Through the use of thought bubbles and illustrations detailing every expression, kids can wrap their minds around the complex adventures of the Three Musketeers. What young child wouldn't delight in the story of a swashbuckling mission to replace a bad king with his secret twin brother? And, though the books focus on making these stories accessible and exciting, they don't shy away from teaching kids a thing or two by providing definitions for challenging words like "loathsome" and "abominable" at the bottom of each page. Though the original novels may not be part of your child's curriculum for quite some time, that doesn't mean with a little bit of translation they can't appreciate these well-known tales. And, when this classic finally makes its way onto your child's mandatory reading list, he may just have a leg up! (Graphic Classics, $8.99)