The Knight at Dawn, the Graphic Novel adapted by Jenny Laird, illustrated by Kelly & Nichole Matthews


The Knight at Dawn, the Graphic Novel (Magic Tree House #2) based on the novel by Mary Pope Osborne, adapted by Jenny Laird, illustrated by Kelly & Nichole Matthews.  A Stepping Stone Book, Random House, 2021. 9780593174722

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3 

Format: Hardcover graphic novel

Genre: Time travel/fantasy

What did you like about the book? This is a faithful graphic adaptation of the second book in the perennially popular Magic Tree House series.  Jack and Annie, just back from their dinosaur adventure, are still unsure about where the tree house came from, or who is behind it.  Nevertheless they head into the woods once more, ascending to the tree house and finding a book about medieval times, with a note about a knight’s quest.  Impulsive Annie makes the wish, and they are off to the Middle Ages.  Outside a moated castle, they witness a mysterious knight on horseback.  They follow him over a drawbridge and sneak inside; they happen upon a sumptuous feast before being caught and shunted to the dungeon, accused of being thieves and spies.  In the dungeon, they meet other prisoners, and together they plot a clever escape using one prisoner’s intimate knowledge of the castle’s secret passages and the modern tools that Jack and Annie have with them.  They make it out of the castle, but land in the moat and have to swim to safety, only to be rescued by the mysterious knight who escorts them back to the tree house, with some parting words of wisdom, so they can get home to Frog Creek before their parents wake up.

The adapters have done a serviceable job recreating The Knight at Dawn, matching each major plot point throughout.  The action and the dialog are well-suited to the graphic novel format, and readers will enjoy being able to ‘see’ more of the story.  The color scheme is quite dark and gloomy, but that suits this particular medieval tale, and the white speech bubbles really stand out against the muted tones, which will be helpful for readers.    

Anything you did not like about the book?  I felt like a bit of the magic of the original was lost in the adaptation.  Osborne is a clever writer and much of her rich vocabulary and reflective narration (which considers Jack and Annie’s thoughts as well as their words and actions) did not make it into the comic.

To whom would you recommend this book? These graphic novels provide a two-way trip to the Tree House… diehard series fans will enjoy revisiting the earlier adventures in the graphic format, and it might provide a good bridge (or rather, rope ladder) for comics readers to get interested in reading the later chapter books. 

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it?  Graphic novels or Magic Tree House shelves

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Leigh Russell King, Lincoln Street School, Northborough, Massachusetts.

Date of review: January 19, 2022

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