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The Breadwinner: A Graphic Novel

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This beautiful graphic-novel adaptation of The Breadwinner animated film tells the story of eleven-year-old Parvana who must disguise herself as a boy to support her family during the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan. Parvana lives with her family in one room of a bombed-out apartment building in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital city. Parvana’s father — a history teacher until his This beautiful graphic-novel adaptation of The Breadwinner animated film tells the story of eleven-year-old Parvana who must disguise herself as a boy to support her family during the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan. Parvana lives with her family in one room of a bombed-out apartment building in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital city. Parvana’s father — a history teacher until his school was bombed and his health destroyed — works from a blanket on the ground in the marketplace, reading letters for people who cannot read or write. One day, he is arrested for having forbidden books, and the family is left without someone who can earn money or even shop for food. As conditions for the family grow desperate, only one solution emerges. Forbidden to earn money as a girl, Parvana must transform herself into a boy, and become the breadwinner. Readers will want to linger over this powerful graphic novel with its striking art and inspiring story.


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This beautiful graphic-novel adaptation of The Breadwinner animated film tells the story of eleven-year-old Parvana who must disguise herself as a boy to support her family during the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan. Parvana lives with her family in one room of a bombed-out apartment building in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital city. Parvana’s father — a history teacher until his This beautiful graphic-novel adaptation of The Breadwinner animated film tells the story of eleven-year-old Parvana who must disguise herself as a boy to support her family during the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan. Parvana lives with her family in one room of a bombed-out apartment building in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital city. Parvana’s father — a history teacher until his school was bombed and his health destroyed — works from a blanket on the ground in the marketplace, reading letters for people who cannot read or write. One day, he is arrested for having forbidden books, and the family is left without someone who can earn money or even shop for food. As conditions for the family grow desperate, only one solution emerges. Forbidden to earn money as a girl, Parvana must transform herself into a boy, and become the breadwinner. Readers will want to linger over this powerful graphic novel with its striking art and inspiring story.

30 review for The Breadwinner: A Graphic Novel

  1. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    This was an interesting and timely story idea, but I'm not sure about the final result. (Apparently this was also preceded by a regular chapter book and animated film adaptation.) A pre-teen Afghan girl disguises herself as a boy after her father is incarcerated and the family subsequently suffers from lack of food and money amidst Taliban rule. While I think the courageous Parvana is an appealing and original protagonist in this YA-themed edition, the occasional choppiness (there were at least This was an interesting and timely story idea, but I'm not sure about the final result. (Apparently this was also preceded by a regular chapter book and animated film adaptation.) A pre-teen Afghan girl disguises herself as a boy after her father is incarcerated and the family subsequently suffers from lack of food and money amidst Taliban rule. While I think the courageous Parvana is an appealing and original protagonist in this YA-themed edition, the occasional choppiness (there were at least two times I checked to see if I had skipped a page, thinking I missed something) and sudden, abrupt ending - though the lack of definitive resolution is probably more realistic than any of us would care to admit - make this sad but relevant story seem like a slightly rushed version to adult readers.

  2. 5 out of 5

    cynthia ✨

    Damn, I wish I could forget about this book. So that I could read this again and experience all the spectacular emotions, characters, artwork, and storyline again. *sniff*

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rod Brown

    So this is a graphic novel adaptation of an animated movie adaptation of a book. I usually try to avoid something this watered down, but I knew I could read this slim little volume in a fraction of the time it would take me to watch the movie or read the original book, and I was unlikely to do either of those things anyway. This is a sad story about an Afghan family suffering under oppressive Taliban rule. For context, the original book was published about a month after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, So this is a graphic novel adaptation of an animated movie adaptation of a book. I usually try to avoid something this watered down, but I knew I could read this slim little volume in a fraction of the time it would take me to watch the movie or read the original book, and I was unlikely to do either of those things anyway. This is a sad story about an Afghan family suffering under oppressive Taliban rule. For context, the original book was published about a month after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, or about the same time the U.S. began military operations against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Thinking about how sad things were before the onset of 17 years of continual war and what they must be like now is just plain depressing. The author wrote three sequel books, so I suppose I don't need to just imagine, but honestly I'd rather not go down this road of suffering right now.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Chasity

    I’ve never read the series or seen the movie, but this made me want to! I’m intrigued by the story and wished I had just a little more from the graphic novel. It would have been 5 stars if it’d been a little more thorough. The family and cultural dynamics were so apparent even in the moderate amount that was told. I’d love to see this in an adult format. Would definitely recommend for middle grade youngsters!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Casey

    I wish that there had been a bit more story. I felt that I was missing out on information.

  6. 5 out of 5

    La Coccinelle

    This graphic novel is apparently based on an animated film, which I haven't seen. To be frank, I think I would've rather seen the film. I don't know if it's the e-book format or what, but the text adaptation is absolutely horrendous. Unfortunately, this detracts from what could be a moving story. Parvana lives with her parents and siblings in Kabul. One day her father is taken away and thrown in jail, leaving the family without a means of support. Parvana cuts her hair and disguises herself as a This graphic novel is apparently based on an animated film, which I haven't seen. To be frank, I think I would've rather seen the film. I don't know if it's the e-book format or what, but the text adaptation is absolutely horrendous. Unfortunately, this detracts from what could be a moving story. Parvana lives with her parents and siblings in Kabul. One day her father is taken away and thrown in jail, leaving the family without a means of support. Parvana cuts her hair and disguises herself as a boy so she can go out into the city and make a living. Meanwhile, her mother has arranged a marriage for her older sister, and war is coming. Parvana makes a desperate attempt to see her father in jail, while her mother and siblings end up being taken away by family members. The book ends like many graphic novels do, as if it's to be continued in future installments (which I don't think is the case here). So I'm not sure if I like the ending; there are a lot of unanswered questions. The story and setting are fraught with peril and heartache, but I found it kind of difficult to concentrate on those things when the text was so abysmal. It wasn't even a matter of a few typos (although there was a rather spectacular one with "first" spelled as "fiflrst"). Every instance of the word "find" seemed to be capitalized. Random words were in all caps. Half the names started with lowercase letters (but only some of the time). There were missing spaces all over the place so words ran together. I have no idea what happened with the text, but it's awful. Its only saving grace is that it's still intelligible enough to get the gist of the story. If the physical editions of the graphic novel don't have these technical issues, then this is a decent book. As to the version I read, it seemed like it was rushed and slapped together just to cash in on the popularity of the film. And that's disappointing.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Whitney

    The story is interesting, but I think I need to just watch the movie. It is VERY obvious they just took still frames from the film and added dialogue. The ending seems unfinished and vague. The pacing is all over the place. It probably should have been adapted from the book and not the movie that was based on the book. Seems like they took the easy way out and/or it was a cash grab.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    Beautiful graphic novel about an Afghani girl who poses as a boy to help her family survive after her father is arrested. I found this to be a powerful story but I am confused that the story ended so abruptly with no final resolution.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kristen P

    But...I still don't get the title. But...I still don't get the title.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jaclyn Hillis

    The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis is a powerful graphic novel with striking art and an inspiring story. This is a great story to bring awareness of what the people of Afghanistan have been through, especially girls and women. And this story will stick with me for a long time. However, I wanted a little bit more detail, as I have more questions than answers. I’m curious to read the original novels now because I want more of Parvana’s story, and hopefully it’s more fleshed out in those. I will defini The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis is a powerful graphic novel with striking art and an inspiring story. This is a great story to bring awareness of what the people of Afghanistan have been through, especially girls and women. And this story will stick with me for a long time. However, I wanted a little bit more detail, as I have more questions than answers. I’m curious to read the original novels now because I want more of Parvana’s story, and hopefully it’s more fleshed out in those. I will definitely be reading more from Deborah Ellis — she donates most of her royalty income to worthy causes such as Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan, Street Kids International, the Children in Crisis Fund of IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) and UNICEF. She has donated more than one million dollars in royalties from her Breadwinner books alone.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Brett

    While I enjoyed the story and courage of the main character, Parvana, the graphic novel relied too heavily on the images to tell such an emotional and complex story. This version would serve best as a supplemental text to provide context and imagery for struggling readers. I would not recommend using it as a stand-alone instructional resource.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Shauna Yusko

    If you want a slim graphic novel adaptation of the book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Evan Yang

    Overall, the pictures were great! But the other didn't draw enough pictures to show feelings and emotions. And I feel like the ending was rushed. So I wouldn't recommend this to anyone. And I was really confused with the title because this main character doesn't even sell bread. I thought breadwinner was a person who sells bread... I searched it on Google and it actually means someone who earns money to support their family. Overall, the pictures were great! But the other didn't draw enough pictures to show feelings and emotions. And I feel like the ending was rushed. So I wouldn't recommend this to anyone. And I was really confused with the title because this main character doesn't even sell bread. I thought breadwinner was a person who sells bread... I searched it on Google and it actually means someone who earns money to support their family.

  14. 5 out of 5

    A Lib Tech Reads

    The Breadwinner: A Graphic Novel Deborah Ellis Rating: 4/5 Note:Special thanks to Groundwood Books for providing a copy for review. I have not read the Breadwinner novel or watched the movie yet, so this is the first time I have come across this well-known heart-breaking tale. I particularly love the art style and thought it was reminiscent of the 90's animations I watched growing up. It's simple yet it captures the lighting and the shadows perfectly in each scene. The details in the background also The Breadwinner: A Graphic Novel Deborah Ellis Rating: 4/5 Note:Special thanks to Groundwood Books for providing a copy for review. I have not read the Breadwinner novel or watched the movie yet, so this is the first time I have come across this well-known heart-breaking tale. I particularly love the art style and thought it was reminiscent of the 90's animations I watched growing up. It's simple yet it captures the lighting and the shadows perfectly in each scene. The details in the background also cannot be missed as the setting of Kabul Afghanistan comes to life behind the comings and goings of the characters. I particularly enjoyed the change in art styles during the tale of the Silk Road. The vibrant colours along with the almost 3Dish way it is presented highlight the clever technique of telling a story within a story; I could imagine it as the beautiful stop-motion animations that I favour. It's difficult to adapt a novel into a movie that will please all readers, and it's even more difficult to then adapt that movie into a graphic novel. This is why I am especially impressed with this book. In the short 78 pages or so, it is able to tell a poignant story in a straightforward manner; there is never a lull in the plot for this graphic novel medium. It also conveys the personalities of the cast of characters so that they each come across as individuals with their own beliefs and opinions. I find that in some YA novels I read, multiple characters end up blending into one another without distinguishable traits, but I did not see that happen in the Breadwinner. Parvana is a strong and courageous female protagonist, one who is also very young and a lot more mature than you'd expect, and you can't help but admire her persistence to find her Baba. You could see the heartache and pain captured in both her and Mama-Jan's eyes in many distressing scenes. I'll admit that I had no plans to watch the movie or to even add the Breadwinner to my reading list of 2018, but after devouring this graphic novel in just an hour, it's at the top of that list now.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Priyanka

    This had me bawling by the end. The illustrations were beautiful and there was just enough text to get the message across - and it's a powerful message. I had already seen the Netflix adaption, but I still loved this. The story takes place in Afghanistan when the Taliban was in control and women could not even go outside alone without getting beaten, let alone earn an education. But Parvana - the main character - has a father who loves her dearly. He tells her stories and teaches her how to read This had me bawling by the end. The illustrations were beautiful and there was just enough text to get the message across - and it's a powerful message. I had already seen the Netflix adaption, but I still loved this. The story takes place in Afghanistan when the Taliban was in control and women could not even go outside alone without getting beaten, let alone earn an education. But Parvana - the main character - has a father who loves her dearly. He tells her stories and teaches her how to read. He understands that she is too young for marriage. But, when her father is sent to prison by the Taliban, Parvana's family has no access to food, and Parvana pretends to be a boy, simply to go to the market, to earn a living. While she is selling items, she meets a kind man who asks her to read a letter for him. In it, she learns that his wife has passed away. Her name is Hala. "Sometimes, on a clear night when you look at the moon, you can see a bright outline around it. That outline is called Hala. My wife was named for that light," he tells her. He helps her find her father, a true act of kindness. I loved the Historical Note at the end, where Deborah Ellis writes: "Afghans know war. They know oppression and they know too well the experience of one brutality coming to an end only to be replaced by another. Yet there are so many people in that country who get out of bed each morning and spend their days trying to make things a little better for their family, their community and their country. This everyday kindness takes tremendous courage, and we can join them by doing what we can, where we can and when we can to make the world a kinder place for everyone."

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rebekah Gyger

    What drew me to this graphic novel was the story matter. A few months back, I watched a short youtube documentary about girls in this situation of having to dress as boys to help their families. I had never heard of the original book or the animated movie, so I went in to reading it without much of an expectation. The story is one that is very beautiful and powerful, despite the depressing nature of the situation. All of the members of Parvana's family are extremely courageous. I felt that the a What drew me to this graphic novel was the story matter. A few months back, I watched a short youtube documentary about girls in this situation of having to dress as boys to help their families. I had never heard of the original book or the animated movie, so I went in to reading it without much of an expectation. The story is one that is very beautiful and powerful, despite the depressing nature of the situation. All of the members of Parvana's family are extremely courageous. I felt that the artwork highlighted their lives beautifully as well, though I know other reviews have criticized that much of it was taken from stills of the animation. However, I personally don't believe that the graphic novel suffered for this. I also don't think that anything was lost in the abruptness of the ending. In a way, not knowing what happens drives home the struggle of surviving in a country like this, at the mercy of powers beyond your control. And as I have learned recently from reading other graphic novels, they often do end abruptly. Yet I was not disappointed with this story's conclusion as I have been with others, and it may be that there will be more to follow.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    Having literally just watched the animated film adaptation a few weeks ago, then seeing the delivery of the graphic novel in a new box of books, I was surprised and excited. It was literally the same animated style of the movie. I think I could have appreciated the movie better having read the graphic novel first because the style works well. It's a beautiful introduction to the story just like the picture books about Malala's story before reading her adult biography, etc. There is conversation Having literally just watched the animated film adaptation a few weeks ago, then seeing the delivery of the graphic novel in a new box of books, I was surprised and excited. It was literally the same animated style of the movie. I think I could have appreciated the movie better having read the graphic novel first because the style works well. It's a beautiful introduction to the story just like the picture books about Malala's story before reading her adult biography, etc. There is conversation about equality of men and women, physical fitness, access to food and water, family, religion, and politics all in the neatly-done package of a graphic adaptation, I'm sure Ellis is happy with this. Definitely ordering additional copies now that I had one to read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Angela Smith

    I have read the full length novel of The Breadwinner and now I've read the graphic novel I shall have to get around to watching the movie next. It's currently free to watch on Amazon Prime at the time of writing this review. The graphic novel is obviously shorter than the book and I think it still brings home the futility of war and how it affects people. The harsh rule of the Taliban as well as other invaders have made life hard for the inhabitants of Afghanistan. It is suitable for any age rea I have read the full length novel of The Breadwinner and now I've read the graphic novel I shall have to get around to watching the movie next. It's currently free to watch on Amazon Prime at the time of writing this review. The graphic novel is obviously shorter than the book and I think it still brings home the futility of war and how it affects people. The harsh rule of the Taliban as well as other invaders have made life hard for the inhabitants of Afghanistan. It is suitable for any age really from the ages of 8+ 11 year old Pavana disguises herself as a boy after her father is dragged off to prison. Without her deception the family would not survive due to the strict laws. She risks much to get her father back and help her family.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Urbandale Library

    This graphic novel adaptation of the story of a young girl who must disguise herself as a boy to help her family. The story takes place in Afghanistan during Taliban rule. The story opened my eyes to the range of devastation and control the Taliban exerted over the population, largely targeted at women. The animated film won many awards and this adaptation has as well, which sparked my interest. It certainly was well worth the read.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    In those times, girls can't go out alone and only boys can go out. Unluckily, the girl named Paravana's dad have a broken leg, all of Paravana's sibling are too young. She made herself as a boy and make her family members live. Her father was arrested for letting her daughter out alone. She faced alot of challenges while finding her dad. You should read this book!!! In those times, girls can't go out alone and only boys can go out. Unluckily, the girl named Paravana's dad have a broken leg, all of Paravana's sibling are too young. She made herself as a boy and make her family members live. Her father was arrested for letting her daughter out alone. She faced alot of challenges while finding her dad. You should read this book!!!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne Dix

    The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous in this heartbreaking graphic novel. I’ve never read the original story by Deborah Ellis but now definitely need to. And I completely understand why all the kids are asking for me to have a book two in the library because this definitely leaves you wondering what happens to Parvana’s family. Such a powerful story.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    The story and art (stills from the animation) are quite beautiful, but the kerning and text editing from the ebook version are very, very off - hence losing a star. I'm kind of surprised that the term bacha posh never showed up in text or in the explanatory afterword. I would probably still watch the Netflix version to get the full effect. The story and art (stills from the animation) are quite beautiful, but the kerning and text editing from the ebook version are very, very off - hence losing a star. I'm kind of surprised that the term bacha posh never showed up in text or in the explanatory afterword. I would probably still watch the Netflix version to get the full effect.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Scott Whitney

    This is my first with this story. I will have to read the book now that I am having trouble getting this story out of my mind.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mary Tuttle

    Beautifully illustrated story of a girl who must disguise herself as a boy in order to help her family survive in Taliban-occupied Afghanistan.

  25. 4 out of 5

    angela ✧

    Wow, the artwork was 𝑝ℎ𝑒𝑛𝑜𝑚𝑒𝑛𝑎𝑙

  26. 4 out of 5

    Christian McKay

    As good as it can be considering it’s just screenshots of the film with a severely edited script.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    A moving and important story--I think the graphic novel form makes it accessible for readers who prefer that format but I think the novel version may be more impacting for me personally!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Hayden

    Super short. Felt like it missed parts from the original book but was overall pretty good.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Helen

    This graphic novel is a wonderful adaptation of an animated feature film of the same title - in a heart-rending story of a family, it relates Afghanistan's tragic history (for ordinary Afghans) since 1978. It has a parable-like quality - that no matter how much you try, and how well-meaning you are, somehow, sometime, your efforts will come to naught - at least that was the case for the family whose story is told in the book, under the Taliban. The troubles in Afghanistan that began with a coup This graphic novel is a wonderful adaptation of an animated feature film of the same title - in a heart-rending story of a family, it relates Afghanistan's tragic history (for ordinary Afghans) since 1978. It has a parable-like quality - that no matter how much you try, and how well-meaning you are, somehow, sometime, your efforts will come to naught - at least that was the case for the family whose story is told in the book, under the Taliban. The troubles in Afghanistan that began with a coup in 1978, intensified over the following decades, which included five years under Taliban rule (1996-2001). I recommend this powerful graphic novel to any reader interested in finding out about Afghanistan's tragic history since the coup of 1978, subsequent Soviet invasion/occupation, civil war, Taliban rule.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Eszter Kosa

    Everyone should read this book.

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