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“Hark! A Vagrant” by Kate Beaton

I wouldn’t have thought that the smartest book I read all year would also be the funniest, or that it would be a comic strip collection.  “Hark! A Vagrant” is a pencil-drawn jaunt through history, told via the smart and sassy hand of Kate Beaton. (If you’re not already familiar with her work, checking out her site might change your life.)

The comics in “Hark! A Vagrant” were pulled from her site, and are all completely charming.  Napoleon, The Brontes, Jane Austen, Tesla, Marie Curie – hardly any figure you can recall from history class is spared in this collection.  (I laughed out loud more than once – especially during her “Jane Eyre” comics, which are spot-on.)Heck, there are even some historical figures you’ve probably never heard of.

Beaton began her course of study as a History major, but soon found herself merging her love of history and her love of drawing together – and the results are fantastic.  Beaton knows her stuff, and knows what’s funny about it. These aren’t simple jokes, they’re smart.  Beaton doesn’t dumb history down for her audience, and the pay-off is mega-laughs.

That’s really all I can say about this collection, except that you’d be doing yourself a favor to read it.  You’ll laugh, I promise.