Nat Turner by Kyle Baker was an incredibly emotional and eye-opening experience. It is the true story of Nat Turner and his slave rebellion, which took place in Southhampton County, Virginia in 1831. Told in graphic novel format, Baker uses vivid, wordless images alongside excerpts of Turner’s confession to convey the brutalities of slavery and the details of Turner’s life story, which ended with his execution for leading the bloody slave revolt. Library Journal gave this book a starred review, calling it “suspenseful and violent.”
Baker’s retelling is historically accurate; he lets readers come to their own conclusions about whether Turner was a hero or a monster. Baker’s approach to the material helped me understand more fully the atrocities of slavery, and I was especially interested in reading about Turner’s religious righteousness and his firm convictions about his destiny.
Nat Turner was originally self-published as a serial in four issues. The four parts are preserved in the complete work, which also includes an afterword by Baker and a teacher’s guide. Baker has won numerous awards for Nat Turner, both for the writing and the artwork, including: the Glyph award for Best Artist, Best Cover, and for Best Story of the Year, 2006; the Eisner Award for Best Reality-Based Work, 2006; and the Harvey Award for Best Graphic Album — Previously Published, 2009. This work also received an Eisner Award nomination for Best Limited Series, 2006; and Harvey Award nominations for Best Writer, Best Artist and Best Single Issue or Story, 2009.
Review by Katy Dodge, Head of Children’s Services.
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