Okay, “they” say you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover…but this book had this perplexed and slightly scared pink bunny on the cover next to two kids and an amulet. Color me intrigued. Thankfully, the book lived up the cool cover and then went beyond that coolness to deliver an engaging adventure with Emily, her little brother Navin, and their mom.
The book opens with a heartbreaking family tragedy and even though I’d just been introduced to Emily’s dad, losing him within the first 10 pages was horrible. This terrible event cause Emily’s mom to pack up her two kids and move to their great-grandfather’s house. It becomes clear quickly that this is not just any house. It’s too simple to say it’s haunted, but there are otherworldly inhabitants. While poking around, Emily stumbles upon an amulet. Which, we later find out, can talk and has a spirit and mind (and agenda, it would seem) of its own.
Soon, Exciting (and Scary) Things Happen, and Emily’s mom gets taken by a large deranged octopus looking creature and Emily and Navin go after her to save her. In the process, they meet Miskit (the bunny from the cover!) and the rest of their great-grandfather’s mechanical coterie, who help Em and Navin get their mom back. Along the way, they learn they’re in a different world, with different rules, and a whole political structure that’s currently in a state of unrest. Most of this book is laying the groundwork for this world and Kazu Kibiuchi does it beautifully.
I’ll admit it. I’m in a crunch to get some numbers on my Cannonball Read list. I read a few really long books (I know….boo-hoo) and had some life happen earlier this year that really messed up my pace. However, there are some nifty graphic novels that meet or exceed the page count that are slightly faster to read than say, Kushiel’s Dart. Take, for instance, Flight Explorer vol. 1 edited by Kazu Kibuishi. Amazon’s description says that the book is supposed to deal with themes of flight, but there were at least two that didn’t touch on any kind of flight I could think of. Maaaaaybe “Snow Cap, 2nd verse” by Matthew Armstrong could be considered a “flight of fancy,” but that’s stretching it. However, it was a completely adorable story with some of the sweetest art I’ve seen recently, so I didn’t care too much that it didn’t fit with the theme.
Anyhoo, this is one of the ones that looked nifty from my local library. It’s a collection of stories edited by Kazu Kibuishi, who also has a delightful story in the book. The ten different authors/artists bring a diverse style and feel to the book, but most seem to have a similar cheeky sense of humor. “Big Mouth” by Phi Craven is another that didn’t seem to fit with the theme and was one of my least favorites, both because the style is not really my thing and it also wasn’t as playful as the others. I suppose it has a good message, though, about being kind to people who’re different and if you’re different to hang in there; you’ll eventually find people who compliment your personality and will be your friend. Even if you do wind up accidentally eating all their ice cream. It helps to give them your ice cream to repay them for eating theirs by mistake.
Editor Kazu Kibuishi’s story “Copper: Mushroom Crossing” was one of my favorites, with just enough wit, pluck, and suspense. The story is simple enough. A boy and his dog need to cross a wide mushroom field. They could either take the bridge or be daring and leap across the mushroom caps. Guess which they chose? Also, the mushrooms could totally be the love children of the hands from the movie Labyrinth and the Ents from Lord of the Rings. The next best story, “Missile Mouse: The Guardian Prophecy” by Jake Parker, is the featured part of the book cover and I admit, I judged this book by the cover and am glad I did. Appropriate and fun for kids over 9 or 10.