Title: The Stonekeeper
Author: Kazu Kibuishi
Series: Amulet #1
Audience: Middle Grade
Format: Graphic Novel
Length: 192 pages
Release Date: January 1, 2008
Source: School Library
Graphic novel star Kazu Kibuishi creates a world of terrible, man-eating demons, a mechanical rabbit, a giant robot—and two ordinary children on a life-or-death mission.
After the tragic death of their father, Emily and Navin move with their mother to the home of her deceased great-grandfather, but the strange house proves to be dangerous. Before long, a sinister creature lures the kids’ mom through a door in the basement. Em and Navin, desperate not to lose her, follow her into an underground world inhabited by demons, robots, and talking animals.
Eventually, they enlist the help of a small mechanical rabbit named Miskit. Together with Miskit, they face the most terrifying monster of all, and Em finally has the chance to save someone she loves.
This graphic novel is creative and suspenseful, blending fantasy with some steampunk elements. While this is written for young audiences, it deals with some heavy topics, including death and separation/loss of parents, starting in the prologue.
Emily is a brave and curious heroine. She cares deeply about her family members and would do anything to save them, which leads her to make some rash decisions. Despite her brother Navin’s hesitations, she wholeheartedly embraces the amulet as she tries to save her mom.
I am not quite sure what to think of the amulet and its magic…is it good or evil, or does it depend on how it’s used? There is a lot the audience does not learn about the alternate world where this story takes place and its magic, leaving a lot to be explored in future installments.
While it was an exciting adventure, I didn’t completely connect with the story. However, it raises lots of interesting themes that I can’t wait to see explored in the rest of the series!
I teach a Comic Book elective class to 8th graders, and we read this together since my school library has a class set of the first book in the series . I enjoyed sharing this story with my students. I’ve seen this recommended for ages 9+ so I worried it might be a little young for my 8th graders, but they loved it. Only a couple students had already read the Amulet series, and all of my students got really into the story, which pleasantly surprised me.
I found a motion comic with a great audio production on YouTube that I played while students read along in their books. I will link that below, along with some of the other teaching resources I used with this unit.
After we finished this unit, I bought the boxed set of books 1-8 for my classroom library because so many of my students wanted to continue reading the series. I haven’t continued the series myself yet because I’m letting my students take turns with the books first. I wish I could get class sets of the entire series, but for now I’m happy to see so many of my students excited about reading this series!
Students’ final assignment was to write a book review for The Stonekeeper. Out of an abundance of caution for my students’ privacy, I will refer to them only by their first initial. Here’s what some of them had to say:
“I think if you enjoy adventure books this is for you. The story is overall great & well layed out.” -E
“I think this is a good book because of the story line. In the beginning she loses her dad, and now she wants to protect the mom at all costs. I just like it when they give the character a strong motivation.” -A
“I love this book because it was sad, but was heroic. She was all about saving people.” -J
“I love this book because the characters are very kind to each other.” -C
“It has a lot of mystery and suspense through the whole story and every page.” -A
“It was a simple book to understand, the pictures were nice and colorful. The characters were likable. The story was dramatic and interesting.” -R
“It has a lot of action, and the characters feel real. The plot is pretty clear. There’s character motivation in each and every single character. It’s a good book for people who want an exciting adventure, with great visuals.” -T
“There is a lot of action and the book is sort of a cliffhanger so it makes it more interesting.” -J
“There is a lot of action and you can never expect something is going to happen. When you start reading this book you will think it’s not good but it will surprise you for sure.” -A
“It was awesome and exciting. You wouldn’t drop this book once you start it.” -L
Motion Comic/Audio by Noah Hakvern on YouTube
Lesson Plan for the Amulet Series from Scholastic
Amulet Book One Reading Guide by Jennifer Leverentz on TPT
Amulet: The Stonekeeper – Mr. Price’s Book Blog
Using Graphic Novels in Education: Amulet – CBLDF