The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Basil (Ordinary Basil Series)

The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Basil (Ordinary Basil Series)

5.0 2
by Wiley Miller
     
 

Talented and well-known syndicated comic strip artist Wiley Miller presents a stunningly illustrated tale of a boy who is bored by his life and ready to break free from the lighthouse he calls home. Led off by a wonderfully eccentric professor in a hot-air-balloon ship, Basil travels to another dimension where he and a new friend save the fantasy city of Helios from… See more details below

Overview

Talented and well-known syndicated comic strip artist Wiley Miller presents a stunningly illustrated tale of a boy who is bored by his life and ready to break free from the lighthouse he calls home. Led off by a wonderfully eccentric professor in a hot-air-balloon ship, Basil travels to another dimension where he and a new friend save the fantasy city of Helios from destruction.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Robotic armies, flying pet dinosaurs and jet-propelled helium suits feature prominently in Miller's first book for children, liberally illustrated and based on his (Non Sequitur) comic-strip character Ordinary Basil and set in 1899. The 12-year-old hero, bored with his "ordinary" life on the Maine coast, longs for adventure. He soon gets his wish when he becomes the first Earth-dweller to visit Helios, a magical, futuristic city in the clouds, courtesy of Professor Angus McGookin's balloon airship. The man explains that humans have called Helios many things (Eden, Atlantis, etc.), but "the history of Helios is the history of human accomplishment, not human self-destruction." Basil quickly finds himself-along with his new friend Louise-in a battle with a stereotypical madman-genius, Dr. Von Rottweil (a fallen member of Helios's High Council). Other familiar archetypes and themes abound. Basil has been chosen out of all humankind ("The High Council will be most pleased to know you've finally been found"), for instance, and Von Rottweil's sidekick is a "hideous, hunched assistant" a la Quasimodo. Miller's diverse perspectives ratchet up the suspense, as in several vignettes depicting the children's ride on Louise's pet pteranodon. The characters' exaggerated facial expressions nicely counter the compositions' Gorey-esque edge. Miller has packed plenty into this engaging escape of a read, with a whiff of commentary on contemporary times. Readers will be glad Basil broke the confines of the funny pages. Ages 7-10. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Hazel Buys
The comfort of the familiar and expected pales if that is all you know. Children are especially alert to how interesting their lives are compared to others. Such is Basil's complaint: his woefully uninteresting and ordinary life. His mother had counseled him to "make the most of what life hands you." She left out "be careful what you wish for." Basil wishes for an adventure. On his own one day, in his lighthouse home on the coast of Maine, Basil is interrupted in mid-lament by the astonishing sight of a ship sailing past his top-floor window. In one determined leap, Basil jumps into the vessel and his life morphs from boring to interesting—very interesting. The pilot of the ship, Professor McGookin, cautions Basil about the curse of wishing and whisks him into a grand adventure complete with a journey to another world, huge beasts, wicked evil-doers, and a damsel in distress. Basil must help save the day. In the process, he learns that courage and resourcefulness are needed in uncommon amounts when you have a far-from-ordinary life. This whimsical but substantial story is full of charm and deftly-offered lessons about life and choices. The illustrations support and expand the story's imaginative, colorful and comic style. This book, by the creator of the award-winning comic strip Non Sequitur, proves that old-fashioned adventure stories can still hold our interest when told with humor and whimsy and peopled with well-developed characters turned loose in a rollicking plot. This book would be a welcome addition to an elementary or middle school library, especially as a resource for tempting reluctant readers. Reviewer: Hazel Buys
School Library Journal
Gr 3�5
It's 1899, and 12-year-old Basil lives in a lighthouse on the coast of Maine. A dour, gnomish lad with an oversize head, he longs for adventure. When a balloon piloted by a kindly, mysterious man appears outside his window, the boy leaps aboard and soars off to a fantastic city in the sky. Professor Angus McGookin has brought him to Helios, the home of a secret, advanced society, and Basil is soon caught up in an adventure involving evil scientists, pteranodons, and mechanical armies. Miller's plentiful, full-color cartoons expand on the story, but there's little invention or character development in this rambling story. The narrative flow is clunky, with awkward shifts in perspective from Basil to that of an all-knowing narrator. Miller, creator of the comic strip "Non Sequitur," has crafted a hybrid picture book/short chapter book, but this tale fails to fulfill the promise of its attractive design.
—Marilyn TaniguchiCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780439856652
Publisher:
Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
10/09/2006
Series:
Ordinary Basil Series
Pages:
128
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.70(d)
Lexile:
760L (what's this?)
Age Range:
7 - 10 Years

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