Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Alison Dare & the Double Blog Dare Tour

Alison Dare, Little Miss Adventures written by J. Torres, illustrated by J. Bone
published May 2010 (c2002) by Tundra Books
96 pages (paperback), middle grade graphic novel

This book is told in three parts with shorter stories within the vignettes. We begin with "Alison Dare & the Arabian Knights," where Alison is introduced on her mother's archaeological site, Indiana Jones-style. She's highly bored and more than a little mischievous, uncovering a magic lamp and unleashing a genie to do her bidding. Her first wish is to whisk her two friends, Wendy and Dot, away from their spring break vacations to her quaint little tent in the desert. The three friends' personalities are instantly revealed - Alison is the adventurous one, Wendy bookish, and Dot a little flighty. The three girls must figure out how to deal with 1001 Arabian knights after Alison's wish for more time in the desert goes awry. This adventure has a very distinct Disney's Aladdin feel to it - I found myself singing Genie's song while reading: "Well Ali Baba had them forty thieves, Scheherazade had a thousand tales..." and can imagine that younger readers will have some context for this story.

In "Alison Dare & the Secret of the Blue Scarab," we meet Alison's librarian-turned-superhero dad, the Blue Scarab. We also learn the story of her parents' courtship through a subcomic, "Daring Romance." Personally, the stories within stories were a bit much for me. In "Alison Dare & the Mummy Child," Alison tries to set up her divorced parents by bringing a picnic basket and mixed messages to the museum where her mother works but gets tangled up in a mummy kidnapping attempt. Little Miss Adventures serves as an introduction to Alison Dare, her friends, and family, and for readers who enjoy snippets, vignettes, or short stories, this is an engaging and multi-layered read.

Alison Dare, Heart of the Maiden written by J. Torres, illustrated by J. Bone
published May 2010 (c2002) by Tundra Books
104 pages (paperback), middle grade graphic novel

Alison, Wendy, and Dot are back at St. Joan's Academy for Girls after summer vacation. The first half of the book serves to introduce the school, the nuns, and some of Alison's summer adventures. In the second half, Alison and her friends learn that the nuns have quite the secret - they're not just fighting evil in the ways prescribed by their vows. No, these are some butt-kickin' nuns! It's a race to find the map that will lead them to the heart of the maiden, that is, Joan of Arc's heart, and the nuns are not the only ones searching for it. Of course, Alison and friends want to find it too, but of course, they should be safely tucked into bed instead of prowling the campus at night. I won't give the ending away totally. :) 

I think I would really like Alison Dare in a different format. I've never been a comic book reader, so the snippets of stories format is foreign to me and a little bothersome at times. I wish that the books were more cohesive in story, that they flowed better and told a single story rather than jumping around, but I realize that that's just not the way they were originally written. Oh well, that's a personal preference. I did quite enjoy Alison's bold, saucy behavior, even though it got her and her friends into trouble. It's wonderful to see an adventurous female protagonist - she's smart and sassy, but most of all, she's curious and action-oriented. It doesn't hurt that both of her parents are pretty cool too. 

As an adult reading these books, my mind spun with all of the pop culture and literary references - Indiana Jones, Ferris Bueller, Dick Tracy, Elvis, Alice in Wonderland, and a little bit of Groundhog Day there at the end, and that's probably not even the half of it. They'd probably go unnoticed by the intended audience, but I certainly got a kick out of them.

Oh! I almost forgot! There's a contest going on over at Tundra Books to take Alison Dare around the world to experience all sorts of adventures. More details on the blog over there. Here's my adventure:

Alison takes on Thor ... with French and Russian back-up

Check out the rest of the Double Blog Dare Tour line-up here!



Anonymous said...

Thanks for being part of the blog tour!


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