Tuesday, April 12, 2016

GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEWS: The Dark Island by Scott Chantler/The Frozen Menace by Ursula Vernon


ABOUT THE BOOK

In this thrilling sixth installment of Scott Chantler's popular Three Thieves graphic novel series, the separate adventures of twins Dessa and Jared play out simultaneously and seem poised to intersect as the book ends. Dessa, along with Topper and Fisk, has managed a daring landing onto the flying island of Astaroth, where she hopes to find her long-lost brother. Instead, they discover a bizarre world where three children are being held by a mysterious and rarely seen man they call the Toymaker. Certain the Toymaker is Greyfalcon, Jared's kidnapper, Dessa is determined to track him down and confront him about her brother's location. Meanwhile, Captain Drake has unintentionally stumbled upon Jared himself and decides to hold the boy as bait to lure Dessa to him. But as he learns from Jared the particulars about the boy's abduction nine years ago, Drake is troubled. Why would such powerful people want to abduct a small peasant boy? The answer to that question is about to shock Drake --- and Jared! Readers of this award-winning fantasy-adventure series will be excited to find some of the pieces of the puzzle beginning to fall into place here. These fast-paced books, with loads of brilliantly depicted action scenes and just enough humor, are hugely appealing to both boys and girls. However, even as readers are getting pulled along by the high drama and exciting visuals, the complex storylines and intersecting character relationships will engage their critical thinking skills. As always, the cliffhanger ending will leave readers hungry for more.

REVIEW

I've thoroughly enjoyed Chantler's Three Thieves series and book 6, The Dark Island is the most exciting of the bunch.  Something I suspected was finally revealed but the book ends on a serious cliffhanger.  I'm glad the next book comes out later this year because I really, really want to know how things turn out.  I read books 5 and 6 together which turns out to be a good thing, because the reveal at the end of book 5 was a really interesting one and I wanted to see how it turned out.  When Captain Drake runs into Jared, I was really curious to see what would happen.  Captain Drake works for the bad guys, but he isn't a bad guy himself, which creates some interesting tension that comes to a head at the end of this book.  I've wondered for the last couple of books if his loyalties would face some serious problems, as he serves a wicked princess but is an honorable knight.  While Captain Drake slowly learns more from Jared about what has transpired, Dessa and her friends arrive at Astorath, where Dessa hopes desperately to find her brother.  But she runs into plenty of trouble of her own when the Toymaker who runs the floating island turns out to be an enemy.

This is a series that I can heartily recommend.  The action is fabulous, the characters entertaining, and the illustrations delightful.  I would recommend that it be read in order though because it reads like one big long story, with a big cliffhanger at the end of each book.  I can't wait to see how things turn out. 


ABOUT THE BOOK


Danny Dragonbreath doesn’t just have a cold. He is cold. His fire has gone out! And that’s super-dangerous for a fire-breathing dragon like Danny. So, following a tip from his great-grandfather, Danny and his trusty friends Wendell and Christiana head to the farthest north to find the magical ingredient that will reignite his fire. On the way, the gang faces an extremely windy bridge, killer ice worms, and one very confused baby phoenix.

REVIEW

Danny and his friends have once again set off on a quest.  This time it's to find a cure for Danny's ailment: his fire has gone out!  And the only way that his great-grandfather knows to get it back is to eat the eggshells of a phoenix, but to find a phoenix, Danny, Wendell, and Christiana have to head to the farthest north.  Along the way they encounter lots of snow, a perilously icy bridge over a supposedly-bottomless chasm, very large ice worms, and a surprisingly ugly baby phoenix that imprints on Wendell.  Vernon has created another fun addition to an already entertaining series with enough comic like illustrations to make the book seem shorter than it is.  The size of the book also helps with this.  Even reluctant readers might fly through this book what with the way the plot moves along at a brisk pace.  A series for most libraries, especially libraries where students love graphic novels and humor.

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