Review: The Unsinkable Walker Bean by Aaron Renier
You gotta admire an author who goes for broke. Aaron Renier does just that in his mythical, supernatural, swashbuckling (I could go on) graphic novel adventure The Unsinkable Walker Bean. At turns exciting, mysterious, creepy, and beautiful. Consider me completely won over.
While Renier spins an impressiveÂ web of characters and story elements, it all comes down to a cursed skull. Formerly guarded by two giant sea creatures who want it back, the skull is both dangerous and valuable. Simply looking at it has made Walker’s grandfather sick. He instructs Walker to return the artifact to its owners to cure his condition, but everyone else, it seems, has their own interests at heart. In his quest to follow grandpa’s wishes, Walker encounters pirates, said hideous giant sea creatures, and a mysterious man that may not be a man.
Renier reaches for an epic quality here, which means that in the first quarter of the book, there are many more questions than answers. While this means the rewards are bigger in the end, it also takes patience on the part of the reader. Thankfully, the action (appearing early and often) keeps the interest level high.
The cartoon illustrations expertly propel the story, with occasional two page spreads that inspire awe.
Full of thrilling action and impressive depth, Walker Bean will likely go down as one of the best graphic novels of 2010. The back of the book includes a page of “Early sketches of book #2”. Sign me up.
Review copy from publisher
Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.
About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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