It’s hard to believe, but Asterix is turning 60 years old. He’s back, in a newly translated American English collection featuring the first three classic novels in the series. This globally popular French series has sold close to 380 million copies, and has been translated into 111 languages and dialects. The latest edition, #38 The Chieftain’s Daughter does not disappoint. You can expect the same clever wordplay, quirky characters and, of course, plenty of satire.
In the Asterix Omnibus series by Rene Goscinny, and Albert Uderzo, Volume One contains the first three stories in the series: Asterix the Gaul, Asterix and the Golden Sickle, and Asterix and the Goths.
In Asterix the Gaul, Getafix is captured after a Roman soldier sneaks into their village to figure out how these Gauls have invincibility. It’s up to Asterix to use his strength and wit to save Getafix. Getafix’s golden sickle has broken in Asterix and the Golden Sickle. This leaves Asterix and Obelix no choice but to venture to the city Lutetia, where they need to find Metallurgix, the sicklesmith, and the trouble and absurdity begins. Asterix and the Goths features Obelix and Asterix helping Getafix get to the druids’ annual conference. What they don’t know is that the Goths are there waiting to kidnap him. The silliness begins as they must put their heads together to get him back safely.
The latest edition to the Asterix series is The Chieftain’s Daughter by Jean-Yves Ferri, and Didier Conrad.
Adrenaline, the daughter of the Gaulish chieftain is on the run from the Romans. Luckily, she stumbles upon Asterix’s village, which happens to be the only place that can guarantee her safety. But, for how long?
Asterix comics have that classic cartoon style, which you would expect from the 1950s-60s comic era. There are many highly detailed images with a lot of activity happening in each panel. Careful time was spent adding in characters and animals that work to heighten the drama as it is unfolding. Buildings, nature, and scenery are accurate to the time and setting of these stories, thus providing a bit of a history lesson for children as they observe the tools, clothing styles, and structures. In The Chieftain’s Daughter, Conrad does a seamless job of staying true to the original illustrator’s drawing style. It’s remarkable work, especially when you consider how challenging it must be to learn how to copy all the characters and elements of another artist and re-create them just as the original illustrator would have created them.
These titles feature fun stories that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. However, much of the satire would likely be lost on younger audiences. The recommended age range for this series is from 7-12 years old, but is unlikely that American children would know enough about the history of Gaul, the Romans and World War II to truly understand the satire. That’s not to say that they couldn’t be enjoyed by younger children, but this series would be best read with someone older who could explain some of the happenings. Additionally, children would need to have a fairly comprehensive vocabulary as these books are packed with abstract writing. “Intransigent”, “gesocribate” and “menhir sculptors” are a few of the rather complicated words that are sprinkled throughout. Much of the humor is in the language carefully selected and invented specifically for the characters, such as, Dirtipolotix, Vitalstatistix, and, Getafix. Wonderful for adults, but without the help of an adult, it can be difficult for younger kids to independently understand.
Overall, Asterix is a classic series that is sure to provide laughs, nostalgia for those who read these comics as children, and adventure. These new translations are well-done and make the text more accessible to American audiences. If you like Asterix, these are worth-while additions to your home or library collection.
Asterix Omnibus, Vol 1
By René Goscinny
Art by Albert Uderzo
Asterix: the Chieftain’s Daughter
By Jean-Yves Ferri
Art by Didier Conrad
Publisher Age Rating: 7-12
Series Reading Order: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asterix (Wikipedia or Goodreads)
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NFNT Age Recommendation: Middle Grade (7-11), Tween (10-13), Teen (13-16), Older Teen (16-18), Adult (18+)