Although so many of us are, or know, superhero fans, there are not enough female superhero anything (books, costumes, figurines, movies, and the list goes on!) for elementary and middle grade kids. There are even fewer female superhero stories written by authors that propose the very true reality that so many need to accept: books are for readers, regardless of gender. Shannon and Dean Hale’s Diana: Princess Of The Amazons services both these needs with a story that is relevant and engaging for readers of all ages and genders.
Readers meet a very young Diana living on the island Themyscira, the only Amazonian that isn’t thousands of years old. As there is no alternative but to feel lonely, surrounded by aunties who can’t possibly remember what it means to be a kid, Diana depends on the company and attention of her mom, Hyppolita, the queen of Themyscira, to feel truly connected.
What happens next is all too relatable for kid and adult readers; adults get busy, kids feel ignored and unloved, then secrecy, self-doubt, anger, and bad decisions usually follow. Through what seems a magical miracle, Diana wishes for a friend and Mona comes into the picture. Not exactly an Amazonian girl, but a girl Diana’s age nonetheless, and so it begins.
One of the powers of story is the ease with which readers can reflect on their behavior without pointing a finger towards themselves. Diana offers readers the possibility of reflecting on past bad decisions or future decisions to be made, when feeling ignored by those we love, be it family or friends. Is the act of ignoring a conscious decision or is it the result of overwhelming circumstances or a slip into the hustle of daily life? Should we question what we mean to family and friends because of the feeling of loneliness they are creating or should we be brave and talk it out? The opportunity to also reflect on going against our values or better judgement because of new friendships and how they make us feel less alone is also made possible as we follow Diana’s story and the evolution of her friendship with Mona.
Adult readers have much opportunity to reflect about their part in the decisions young people make and the value they place on their ideas and suggestions. Witnessing how Diana does things she knows are not right due to the dire need she feels for friendship and acceptance when Hippolyta is preoccupied with ruling Themyscira is a cautionary tale. Diana’s young age and zestfulness are used to measure the importance of her observations and suggestions, making Hippolyta and others almost miss opportunities to better care for the island and its inhabitants.
Whether young and adult readers enjoy Diana’s story separately or together, this fast paced graphic novel that ends in an EPIC battle offers so much to glean about self, family dynamics, the power of honest conversation and reparations, that it should be made available to readers of all ages, at home, in the library and at school.
Ro Menendez is a picture book collector and teacher-librarian in Mesquite, TX. After thirteen years in the bilingual classroom she decided to transition to the library where she could build relationships with ALL readers on her campus. She enjoys the daily adventure of helping young readers develop their reader identity by connecting them with books that speak to their hearts and sense of humor! Ro’s favorite pastimes include reading aloud to children and recommending books to anyone who asks! She is also very passionate about developing a diverse library collection where all readers learn about themselves and those around them. You can find her on Twitter at @romenendez14.