Books for Younguns, Young Adults and the Young-at-Heart

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Down the Mysterly River

Max the Wolf, Boy Scout Detective, suddenly finds himself in an unfamiliar forest with no memory of how he got there.  And when he  meets a talking warrior badger, he's pretty sure he's in for an adventure like none he's had before.  Soon they are joined by a rough-and-tumble tabby cat and a bear sheriff in their escape from a band of swordsman known as the Blue Cutters who seek not to kill them, but to change their very nature.  Their only hope is sanctuary, but that's all the way down the river...

Down the Mysterly River is written by Bill Willingham and illustrated by Mark Buckingham, marking the Fables graphic novels team's Middle Grade debut.

This is a charming tale in the vein of traditional fantasy:  Outsiders discovering a new world, a motley crew banding together as friends, ultimately putting all the pieces together to solve the mystery of what's happening and why.  The real attraction here, however, are the characters.  Max is a classic detective straight out of the Hardy Boys/Encyclopedia Brown-era.  Banderbrock the badger is reminiscent of the noble beasts from the Chronicles of Narnia.  McTavish the cat is so ornery you have to love him and Walden the bear is one of the most cuddly creatures from a non-picture book in recent memory.  Even though this isn't a picture book, the illustrations starting every chapter are a great addition, making this book an aesthetic pleasure in addition to a literary one.  Any kid with a sense of adventure should find this enjoyable reading.  Plus, word is there may be another book in the same universe, this time with a girl as the hero of the day...

Down the Mysterly River is published by Starscape and retails for $15.99 (hardcover).  I bought my copy with my very own money.  You can get yours at Left Bank Books today!  (And if you hurry, you might be able to nab one of the autographed copies from Bill Willingham's visit in September!)

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