Sunday, September 21, 2008

Into the Volcano by Don Wood

Two brothers, Sumo and Duffy, have been sent by their father to live with an aunt they never knew that they had. Dad is working in Scandanavia (he's Norse) and mom is working in Borneo (she's a Pacific Islander and a vulcanologist). So, they have been picked up by their strange cousin, Come-and-Go and taken to the small island that their mother is from. That's is disruptive enough, but when the local volcano begins to erupt, their new-found family doesn't remove them from danger, but instead, goes on an expedition into the volcano, taking Sumo and Duffy along.

This is really Sumo's story. At the beginning, he is reluctant to visit these strange new relatives, and once the expedition begins, he is the sole voice of reason and reluctance. He is also perceived by the others as cowardly and slow. However, he has some inner strengths that this trip will definitely uncover. His relationship with his brother also changes, when he is forced to be the strong one instead of Duffy.

This story is set up in classic comic strip panels and Don Wood's illustrations are, as usual, striking. He does a good job adopting the comic style. I especially like the sound effects and screams that occasionally bleed into other panels. His characters are interesting, too. The side characters are fully drawn without being overly emphasized; expression and body movement tell much of the story, esp. those of the boys and Come-and-Go. Like Duffy and Sumo, for much of the story, the reader is kept off-balanced and confused, unsure of who to trust or believe. Even at the end, you're still not so sure.....

It was a fun and exciting read and one that would be a great companion to more classic adventure stories. I was especially reminded of Jules Verne novels, maybe because I just read Journey to the Center of the Earth, which this resembled in many instances. Not overtly, but subtly, calling to mind a classic without stealing from it. It was great! Definitely getting this one for the library.
Other reveiw: Fuse #8


Patti said...

Great review! It looked extremely cool when I flipped through your copy yesterday.

Nykemartyn said...

hey could have opted for one of Wood’s volcanic views, but instead they’ve decided to make it very clear that this is a graphic novel right from the start. By placing panels right front and center on the cover they’re essentially declaring loud and proud that this is a comic book and devil take the consequences. I can’t think of another children’s gn that has done the same. Yet another example of publishers openly embracing the genre.
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