published January 2008 by Scholastic
192 pages (paperback), middle grade
After a family tragedy, Emily, Navin, and their mother move to an ancestral home to start a new life. On the family's very first night in the mysterious house, Em and Navin's mom is kidnapped by a tentacled creature. Now it's up to Em and Navin to figure out how to set things right and save their mother's life!What's missing from this summary is that the family finds itself in an alternate world by way of their new home's basement, an alternate world in which Em and Navin's presumed lost great-grandfather resides with a secret that will change all of their lives.
The story itself is quite engaging and action-packed. And I absolutely love the illustrations. I don't presume to know how to write about graphic novels. I don't know why this book appealed to me particularly - no more than the happy feeling I get when I read it and pore over the illustrations. It's all very mysterious to me, the process of drawing it all out, the decisions made regarding style and layout and colors. All I can say is, they were good decisions in this case! But I can talk about the story and that I did enjoy very much. Oh, how I love to think about alternate universes and realities! Emily and Navin, sister and brother, are likable and relatable children who are merely trying to save their mother from a large, squishy octopus-looking monster. Who knew that their new basement was a portal to another world? They're brave and unphased by the strangeness all around them, determined to free their mom and get back home.
Amulet: The Stonekeeper's Curse by Kazu Kibuishi
published January 2009 by Scholastic
224 pages (paperback), middle grade
Yes, Emily and Navin save their mother, but unfortunately she's been poisoned, and they need to travel to another town to see a doctor for a possible antidote. The journey would take too long on foot, and they do not have any vehicles left - except of course, their house. Their house! Um yeah, that's ridiculously cool.
While The Stonekeeper introduced us to the Amulet series' characters, The Stonekeeper's Curse delves deeper into the story of the amulet itself (which was found by Emily in Book 1) and the powers it can have over its keeper. Not to mention the keeper's role in saving this town from the rule of the Elves!
This book was much more striking in its illustrations than the first. There was more variation and saturation of colors - blues and greys for the Elves, bright white tinged with pink for the amulet's power, and tons of reds and oranges for the village scenes. And four awesome pages of black with eye slits for a return to consciousness - this was too cool.
Overall, I would highly recommend this series to upper elementary/middle school students. I don't think I need to say it, but I will anyway - fans of Bone will definitely gobble this one up. I don't normally pick up graphic novels that are drawn in this style, but I'm glad I read these two. I'm only sorry that the third volume isn't out yet!
100 Scope Notes, A Year of Reading, Read About Comics, Omnivoracious