Paul ­Bunyan: The Invention of an American Legend

Toon Graphics. Aug. 2023. 48p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781662665226.
Gr 4-6–On a cold Minnesota day in 1914, the folks of a stopped train gather around a fire to tell stories. Inspired by their one-upmanship, an advertiser from the Red River Lumber Company shares the unbelievable origins and adventures of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. With dramatic flair, he claims this admired lumberjack was so large that nature itself shifted in his wake. His story captures his audience, as does this graphic novel with its narrative presentation and “old-time” cartoon style. Knowing that legends often upstage the truth, Van Sciver demonstrates the power of stories and wisely has characters interject at intervals to remind readers of the consequences of tall tales. But he rushes at the end to include important details about First Nations people and the invasion by the American government. While the format makes the topic engaging, those seeking more information about the history will need to look to the foreword and afterword, which recount the effects of colonization and how stories like Paul Bunyan’s played a role. These provide First Nation perspectives, photographs, and information about William B. Laughead’s marketing tool for American occupation.
VERDICT This book uses a historical foundation to help readers reassess a myth that glorified greed. For fans of folklore and educators, it offers an opportunity for critical thinking with eye-opening results.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing