Plot Summary: This book details the life of Che Guevara starting with what his life was like as a child and the time he spent on his famous motorcycle journey. It also describes his early days as a revolutionary and his time on the front lines in Cuba. The book continues the story with his political career in Cuba and his later involvements in starting revolutions in other countries and his death. In order to further readers understandings of the events that take place in the book it also provides plenty of background information.
Critical Evaluation: The book is very well put together and images are particularly well done. Throughout the story the authors provide background history that fills in details about the political climate in South America, the current state of the Cold War at the time, and some history of previous South American revolutions. Readers do still need to have some knowledge of the Cold War and South American history to frame this information on however as the story does not provide a complete picture of either. While the story naturally focuses on Che’s life as a revolutionary it does depict his whole life which gives readers a greater sense of how he developed into the revolutionary leader. The illustrations also really illustrate the changes in his life as you can see him growing older and how at times physical hardship affected his looks. The illustrations are very well done and the historical figures throughout the book are recognizable which greatly helps the flow of the story.
Reader’s Annotation: This graphic novel vividly draws readers into the life of revolutionary Che Guevara.
Author Information: Sid Jaconson and Ernie Colon are New York Times bestselling authors. They have previously collaborated on a graphic novel about 9/11.
Curriculum Ties: This is a great look not only at Che Guevara’s life but also at the state of affairs in South America during his lifetime.
Booktalk Ideas: 1) How did Che’s experiences on his motorcycle journey shape his later political ideals?
2) Why did Che begin to lose political support later in his life, yet still remain an icon of resistance?
Reading Level & Interest Level: This book is listed as being for readers age 16-18 years which seems appropriate. The vocabulary is more suited to older readers and the book does require some knowledge of that period of history to full understand it so younger teens will be less likely to enjoy it.
Challenge Issues: The book features many depictions of warfare, death, and injuries however, these images are not overly bloody or gruesome and serve to convey what the fighting was really like. Further the book is clearly intended for older reader and it is unlikely that younger readers would be interested in reading leading to some self censor. Lastly the book is very well reviewed and very educational.
Why is it included?: I was intrigued by how in depth and detailed the information in this book is. Graphic novels have a bit of a reputation for being easier to read than more traditional novels and this is a great example of why that isn’t true the text contains just as much if not more information than other biographies for teens and the pictures convey even more information throughout the book that would be harder to convey purely through text.