Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Mercury

Larson, Hope (Author/Illustrator)
Simon & Schuster 2013. 236 pages
First published: 2010
ISBN: 9781416935889 (paperback)
9781416935858 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Book type: Graphic Text
Book genre: Historical

Text Elements:

panel arrangement, point of view, setting

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

This graphic novel set in the fictional town of French Hill, Nova Scotia, combines realistic storytelling with elements of magic realism and historical fiction. The narrative alternates between the parallel tales of Tara (in 2009) and her ancestor, Josey Fraser (in 1859). Sixteen-year-old Tara has recently lost her family home to a fire and is living with relatives in Alberta. When she is given a family heirloom necklace, it inextricably links her story with that of Josey, a pioneer farm girl whose family was split apart by a scheming gold prospector.

The visual depictions of past and present are carefully rendered in black and white pencil and ink. Characters are skillfully rendered through revealing facial expressions. Frames contain a great deal of movement and perspective, giving an almost filmic quality to their unfolding. Place and time are both used to great effect – cell phones and computers in the present, farm chores and horse-drawn carriages in the past. Elements of magical realism come in when the necklace is introduced, giving the tale an ethereal and eerie slant.

The text maintains suspense, revealing facts piece by piece until the two stories come together. Tone is spare and direct, effectively using different voices for past and present: “What funny ideas you have, Connie dear. I’m perfectly happy here – although a new bonnet would be nice.” Contrasted with: “Hey Linds. I’m a couple of kims down the road.”

  •  The narrative relies on elements of magic realism, a subset of fantasy narratives, where magic and the supernatural are a normal part of the world of the characters. Characters tend to be ordinary people who find deeper meaning in the mundane, realistic settings in which they live.
  •  

    Discuss the instances of magic and the supernatural in the two storylines. Which elements connect the two stories? How do they help drive the narratives?

  •  

    Use as a model for the production of narratives that use magic realism to connect the past and the present. Consider both characters and symbols used to connect the story arcs and make notes on their use. Experiment with this technique in future narrative text production.

  •  Using teacher-recommended resources, find keywords for the Nova Scotia history portrayed in the timeline panels on pages 2 to 5. As a class, discuss and agree on the best caption for each or some of the panels.
  •  In teams, discuss how Tara and Josey have been affected by parental decisions. Write a journal entry about your life experience and how it has been influenced by your parents.
  •  With Tara’s experience in mind, research resources available in your community to help families who have lost everything in a fire. Produce a pamphlet and vote on one from the class to submit as a proposal to your town council members.
  • To exercise critical judgment
  • To solve problems
  • To use creativity
  • To use information and communications technologies
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Personal and Career Planning
  • Personal Development
  • Social Sciences