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By alternating chapters of graphic novel and straight text, Susan Schade and Jon Buller have combined their writing and illustrating talents to create a truly unique book. Young readers, whether they have discovered graphic novels or not, will find this a visual and reading delight.
Posted May 30, 2009
This book was perfect for my son (age 8yrs) whom we have to force to do his nightly reading. It had THE MAGICAL EQUATION: one chapter was mostly printed words followed by a graphic/cartoon chapter with few words and GREAT illustrations! The WRITTEN chapters were funny, well written, and exciting (adventurous little chipmunk!). However, without the GRAPHIC chapters; my son hates reading so much, he wouldn't have kept reading on his own. Those GRAPHIC chapters offered him enough incentive to keep forging through until he was "rewarded" with their wonderful, cleaver, and funny illustrations (with a few captions thrown in)!
Aside from all that, this book would have gotten 5 stars from me based solely on the fact that it is WELL WRITTEN. It had a good, strong plot. It had characters to which one (not just children) could relate and for whom one would root. The sentence structure was varied and the author's "voice" was a far cry from the monotone in which I find most children's chapter books to be written. The authors made the astounding assumption that children may be able to understand and appreciate things beyond their reading level while still keeping the reading level appropriate for their target age range.
Honestly, I grabbed this book for myself, while claiming it was for my 10-year old. She's been indifferent towards it, but I ripped through it quickly and ran back to buy the second book in the series. The illustrations are wonderful and the story unwinds at a good pace. There is nothing too scary in the plot, and the characters (talking chipmunk, motorscooter-riding porcupine, mechanically-adept bear) are charming.
I did notice a 10-year-old boy who was immediately hooked by it, and I suspect it would be an excellent book for reluctant readers who still need illustrations to catch their interest. It would also be good for kids who aren't quite ready for the wonderful Bone series by Jeff Smith.