A boy leaves the safety of the abbey walls to brave the dark and magical woods. You've never seen anything like it.
Shadowy barbarian Vikings attack with axes, swords, spears, and fire. The wolves and monsters are also pretty menacing. The art style is abstract, but things get pretty intense. Every character is drawn in a hyper-stylized fashion, but the the design of (African) Brother Assoua may set off some adults’ silent alarms.
The book that turned darkness into light
Like the Ireland of the Dark Ages where the story takes place, The Secret of Kells sits at the intersection of the Christian and pagan worlds. Abbot Cellach works to build a wall to protect the brothers’ illuminated manuscripts—the light of civilization—from the threat of the outside world. Unlike in many “children’s” movies, the dangers he fears are real: the coming Viking hordes and the ancient magic in the woods. This independent, sui generis, Irish production came out of nowhere in 2009 become an instant classic. As a moment of visual storytelling, young Brendan’s triumph over the serpent god Crom Cruach still makes me shake me head in disbelief. (A digital graphic novel adaptation is available on Comixology.) —