Thursday, February 3, 2011

Book Review: The Grandmothers' Hive by Donna Barr

I explored Donna Barr's works at after reading her comments on self-publishing. Low and behold, I found a book written for children with an intriguing description. I immediately schemed to get a review of the book. June Vigants, a fan of Barr's and an artist herself, agreed to write a review for this blog.

I could not get the photos from the passworded sites to work, so I copied the one below from Donna Barr's DeviantArt album. The image is not from the book, but is in the basic style of the book's cover as pictured at

Donna Barr has given permission for me to use what images I can retrieve for use in a review of her book. ~ Valerie C

This image of Donna Barr's is available at DeviantArt

June Vigants Reviews
The Grandmothers' Hive by Donna Barr

I first happened upon the work of Donna Barr in 2008 when my dear friends at the comics shop in my hometown of Manchester, Connecticut (Buried Under Comics) referred me to her successful series The Desert Peach. It was love at first sight, and I haven’t looked back since. The historical context of "The Desert Peach" lured me in, but it was Barr's artwork (which is something entirely unique) that kept me hooked. Two years later over Winter Break, the same comic shop friends introduced me to yet another of Barr's masterpieces: The Grandmothers’ Hive.

The Grandmothers’ Hive is a visual wonderland which people of all age groups would find captivating. An impressive amount of detail is put into every texture, patchwork, shading and border. From the clever design of each page to Barr’s own whimsical handwriting, The Grandmothers' Hive is nothing short of inspirational and sensational.

One feature of the tale which readers and listeners alike will find entertaining is the poetic narrative perspective and tempo maintained throughout the story. As if Barr's unique design of the text itself was not alluring enough, the lyrical words are delightfully reminiscent of classic fables.

All the artistic skill aside, the plot itself is very alluring. The Grandmothers’ Hive tells the tale of a young boy named Ben and his adventure through what seems to be the neighboring “Haunted House". Led by a mysterious girl by the name of The Rat, Ben soon learns that this seemingly Bedeviled Abode is actually a Magnificent Mansion occupied by The Rat's eccentric Grandmothers. One feature I greatly enjoyed was that each grandmother comes from a different cultural background, a detail mirrored in each grandmother's actions and speech. Included in the back is an index explaining what the grandmothers reference, information which I found to be stimulating and educational.

The Grandmothers' Hive is a story about facing your fears and trying things new to you. It is a tale suitable for children of younger ages with wonderful illustrations which will delight older audiences as well. Every aspect of the work points to one thing: If you do not have a copy in your library, you are missing out.While The Grandmothers’ Hive is suitable for younger audiences, older youth brackets and young adults may enjoy Barr’s other series, “The Desert Peach” and “Stinz”, both of which have their own unique flavor--being great additions to the Barr collection. Needless to say, it was The Grandmothers’ Hive which really made my WinterBreak magical.
About June Vigants
June Vigants currently attends the School of Visual Arts, studying Animation. She possesses a deep passion for history and comic books and more than often, these two collide. This past November, she launched her first comic series “Benny and Fritz”- which takes place during the First World War and tells the tale of two soldiers who have left their bodies but not quite left Earth, and their trials and tribulations in the trenches. Her blog can be followed here, where there will be updates on the comic as well as other artwork:

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