Review of Amulet: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi
Being the oldest child of two and having witnessed the death of her father at a young age, Emily Hayes is accustomed to taking on the responsibilities that go along with taking care of her family. Now, Emily faces her toughest decision yet when trying to protect the people she loves: to trust the mysterious amulet, or take her little brother and face the unknown creatures of Alledia on her own. With the help of her grandfather’s robots and her little brother, Navin, Emily is determined to save her mother from an octopus-like creature that roams the land of Alledia.
Themes: Tragedy and loss, Trust, Power, Determination, Leadership, Family
Amulet: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi is the first novel of seven in this suspenseful series. The book begins with a sudden car crash and the death of David Hayes, Emily’s father. Kibuishi includes powerful and detailed imagery that enhances the emotion of the novel; for example, the opening scene includes dramatic imagery of the Hayes’ car crash, and her father’s tragic fall to his death after he is unable to get out of the car in time to save himself. While the novel’s main characters are young kids and the reading level is elementary, the plot is complex and includes many life lessons, such as death and loss, conquering fear, mind over matter, the effects of power, determination, and the love for one’s family.
Readers will enjoy the book’s tremendous depth and powerful scenes of action, adventure, tragedy, mystery, and love. The combination of Kibuishi’s vibrant, well-developed characters and his complex plot will cause the reader to get lost in the pages! The author includes both suspenseful imagery and content that keeps the reader engaged and excited at every moment. The text is easy-to-read, as the language is fairly simple and there are never too many words on one page. The author also includes several images that do not contain text, but these illustrations are so detailed that it is easy to understand what the author is trying to portray. In fact, it is Kibuishi’s placement of images that contain no text in moments of action and suspense that makes Amulet: The Stonekeeper a true page-turner!
Uses in the Classroom
Character Development: Amulet serves as a wonderful example for a unit on writing skills that focuses on topics such as character development. The characters in Amulet each have their own unique set of complexities and depth. Kibuishi does an excellent job building on the character’s individualities, as well as their relationships with each other throughout the novel. As a reader, you can clearly connect each character’s background story to their personality. The way they grow and develop throughout the novel makes sense. Ask students to create a comic strip about themselves, or if they would like to create a brand-new character. This will allow students to think about and analyze why their characters are the way they are? What traits do they exhibit and why?
Creative Writing: This novel also offers great inspiration for creative writing. Using Kibuishi’s book as an example, students can create their own fictitious land and develop a story behind it.
Leadership Project: A core theme in the novel that is reflected through Emily Hayes is leadership. Consider what strengths she exhibits that make her a leader. For a class project idea: Have students interview 8-10 people in their lives and ask them to describe a specific time when they saw the student displaying their strengths and good characteristics. In other words, have the interviewees recall a story when the student was doing their best! Then, have students write a short reflection paper on what they heard. Ask students to think about the following questions: Do you agree with what you heard? What are your strengths? Think about how you use these strengths in your daily life when interacting with others?
Follow Emily Hayes through Alledia on this suspenseful fantasy adventure that keeps the reader on their toes! Amulet: The Stonekeeper will have elementary readers hooked on this series and is a perfect introduction into the world of fantasy quest stories.