Thursday, April 10, 2008

Graphic Novel Review: Flight Explorer Volume I

Flight Explorer Volume I is a collection of graphic shorts for the six-to twelve-year-old reader. Beautifully produced by Villard, this a collection that will appeal to boys and girls, to reluctant and proficient readers. There's something in this volume for everyone: traditional space battles (see cover), cute monsters, animals, boy and girl protagonists.

Edited by Kazu Kibuishi, Flight Explorer Volume I contains ten stories from four to twenty pages long. Kazu Kibuishi's story (graphic story?) "Copper: Mushroom Crossing" is the first in the volume and my personal favorite of the ten stories. A boy and his dog are walking along a field of giant mushrooms. The boy can't resist the mushrooms, telling his dog, "Those mushrooms are practically screaming for us to jump on them." And they are, Kibuishi shows us visually. The mushrooms are thick forest of shiny, squishy, jumpy goodness. When the boy jumps into them, his more prudent dog follows. They jump from mushroom to mushroom until the dog falls below the mushroom caps. There the mushrooms give him a talking to, instructing him to take the bridge instead. The story closes with the little boy saying, "I was getting a little worried there. It looked like you were having too much FUN." And the dog replies, "Let's NEVER do that again." But you just know they will. Next time something as awesome as giant talking mushrooms calls them again.*

Johane Matte brings us a regal Egyptian cat, Kean Soo a monster named Jellaby, and Philip Craven an annoying-but-lovable Big Mouth creature. Jake Parker goes with nostalgic space fun in "Missile Mouse," while Steven Hamaker brings a new hero (a fish in a tank) to the space wars. Ben Hatke's "Zita the Space Girl" struggles with robot imitators, while Rad Sechrist's fat cat helps his human friend trick a bunch of neighborhood hecklers. Bannister's funny Tarzan story "Delivery" and Matthew S. Armstrong's charming and sweet "Snow Cap 2nd Verse" round out the collection with humor.

Flight Explorer Volume I is a book every school library and classroom should have on hand. If you're making donations, this is a great one to keep in mind.

Speaking of reviews, Julie M. Prince reviewed Flight Explorer Volume I for this month's The Edge of the Forest. Also, I have a review of Eric Rohmann'sA Kitten Tale up today over at Book Buds .

* Unless we read "Copper: Mushroom Crossing" as a drug (or, rather, drug prevention) allegory. Then, I guess, we should hope the boy and his dog don't give into temptation again.