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Joann Sfar

Professor's Daughter, THE

Joann Sfar Professor's Daughter The
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Imhotep IV is an Egyptian mummy who's just opened his eyes for the first time in 3,000 years.  Lillian Bowell is the daughter of a renowned Egyptologist.  One day, when the Professor's away, the two go out for an afternoon on the town.  The heap of trouble that they land in--brought on by Mozart, afternoon tea, and a passing gentleman's sensitive nature--only deepens when they learn Imhotep IV's father is in town.  Can Imhotep IV and Lillian stay together when both their fathers, the London Police, and even the Archeological society are desperate to drag them apart?

Written by the hilarious and insightful Joann Sfar and painted in muted, sepia-toned watercolors by Emmanuel Guibert, this book is something to keep as a display piece, a thing of beauty--if you can put down the engaging story long enough for others to admire it! 

Review in January 15th 2007 issue of Kirkus

Mummies and fathers complicate a love story that spans centuries in this gorgeously illustrated fable.

Originally published in French in 1997, this English translation highlights the playful collaboration of two masters of the graphic narrative, with Sfar (The Rabbi's Cat, 2005) providing the story and Guibert (Sardine in Outer Space 1 and 2, both 2006, illustrated by Sfar) the colorful, impressionistic visuals. The elegantly slim volume details the romance of a 19th-century British professor's daughter and the 16th-century mummy of an Egyptian emperor (a witty and erudite fellow), who is one of her father's prized possessions. The daughter is one of her father's prized possessions as well, thus rendering their illicit relationship all the more problematic. The mummy's attempt to live with his lover in her world results in an afternoon of mayhem and perhaps even murder, so they try to return to his world, with equally disastrous results. A trial highlights class inequities in Victorian England, while the Queen herself makes a brief (and soggy) appearance. Ultimately, a climactic encounter between the mummy's estranged father and the professor gives the finale a surprising, satisfying twist.

No glorified comic book, this graphic novel aspires to fine art.

Review in February 5th 2007 issue of Publisher's Weekly

Two of France's best graphic novel talents, the ever-prolific Sfar and the subtle illustrator Guibert, collaborate. The result is a fun—if slight—effort, as much a love letter to Victorian London as a story unto itself. Very simply, a mummy, somehow alive and walking around London, has a charming romance with a professor's daughter. The logistical complications involved are comically dismissed, and the pair have a grand old time together. That is, until the mummy's father appears to complicate matters. Sfar has written an utterly engaging romp comparable to a fine 1930s romantic comedy. His dialogue is snappy, and he moves from thrills to chills to humor without missing a beat. But Guibert's work is the real treat. His deft brushwork and spectacular sense of color bring the places and dramas to life. In his hands, otherwise stock characters gain a real presence and liveliness, and he has a filmic sense of drama, describing the characters with detail and wit. A section of Guibert's sketches at the end of the book is extraneous, but otherwise this is an excellent little volume. (Apr.)

Review in March 15th 2007 issue of Booklist

Lillian is the daughter of an eminent Egyptologist. Seeking relief from the stifling propriety of her daily life, she invites Pharaoh Imhotep IV, a dashing mummy from her father's collection, to escort her on a walk. As they stroll through Victorian London, arm in arm, they find themselves falling in love. Their subsequent attempts to stay together lead to mystery, kidnapping, murder, and the sudden return of Imhotep III. Comical disasters ensue, and the situation becomes increasingly absurd, but the romance at the core of the story remains innocent and charming. The art—with a fluidity that expresses emotion and movement to equal advantage—is stunning, and the soft colors are a good match for the setting and mood of the sweet, inspired romance. This will attract adult as well as teen graphic-novel fans.

Review in April 1st 2007 VOYA

In Victorian London, Lillian is the daughter of a brilliant archaeologist, and she is falling in love with the mummy of Imhotep IV. Their quietly blooming love is awkward: He has no internal organs, and she is the very image of his long-dead wife. As a mysterious gentleman pirate, an unlucky policeman, and the queen herself interfere, the lovers find just what their feelings are made of.

This translation of a widely acclaimed French comic fires on nearly all cylinders. The concept is absurd, but there are moments of touching sweetness, both between Imhotep and Lillian and between Imhotep and the ghosts of his children. The book easily slips between farce (the policeman's accidental murder) and melodrama (the lovers' on-again, off-again courtship) thanks to its muted colors and charming characters. Those characters, with their dainty Victorian manners and surprising moments of subterfuge, follow clear and sympathetic motivations, even when the results are morbid. The story's only difficulty is that many of the translations are too abrupt in the context of the otherwise meditative narrative. For example, in the space of fewer than twelve panels, Lillian's father discovers the dead policeman, Imhotep kidnaps Lillian, the lovers find an escape boat, and the men who work the vessel betray them. But this problem is slight, and teen readers might even find the suddenly hectic passages a nice break from the hesitant romance and dreamy melancholy of the main plot. —Joe Sutliff Sanders

Review in May 2007 issue of Library Journal

Gr 10 Up—This novel follows the tumultuous courtship of a pair of Victorian lovers, one of whom happens to be an ancient Egyptian pharaoh. Lillian, daughter of an eminent Egyptologist, and the mummified Imhotep IV turn more than a few heads when they venture out in public, and their affair is complicated when she accidentally poisons two police officers. After turning herself in, she is thrown in jail and tried for murder. When Imhotep is caught trying to rescue her, he, too, must face a judge and jury. Both Lillian's and Imhotep's fathers attempt to save their children and set things right. Imhotep's father takes an extreme approach, abducting Queen Victoria and tossing her into the Thames. The narrative plunges into action with the story already in progress, leaving readers to piece together a backstory as events quickly continue to unfold. The story tumbles forward in surprising directions, and narrative ambiguities are handled deftly so as to spur curiosity and draw readers in. Lush watercolors lend fullness and detail to the characters, and the colorful palette evokes a sense of drama that is tongue-in-cheek. The translucent texture of Guibert's art lightens the narrative, adding to the undercurrent of whimsy that is apparent throughout this enjoyable melodrama.—Heidi Dolamore, San Mateo County Library, CA.

Review in May 2007 issue of KLIATT

A timeless tale of forbidden love, murder, and meddlesome parents unfurls in this utterly fantastic import. Lillian Bowell, the fair daughter of Professor Bowell, renowned Egyptologist, has fallen for the wrong guy—he's 3,000 years older than she, and her father most certainly will not approve—yet he's just so cha

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