Iris loves to pick up the treasures she discovers near the river and under rocks. Usually it’s bent forks and spoons, but Iris sees them as special. After all, there’s not much to do in their tiny town of Bugden and nothing special ever happens there. Then one day, the river dries up, exposing new treasures for Iris and her friend Sam to discover. The two follow the dry river bed and make the discovery of a lifetime. There is an entire town that is usually underwater! Sam is reluctant to explore the forgotten city, but Iris refuses to leave. When Sam get lost on his way back, he is saved by an old man who has ties to the forgotten town. Meanwhile, Iris is making discoveries and meeting an unusual girl who lives in the normally underwater city.
In this graphic novel, Pamment shows the amazing way that hidden cities can be discovered. He shares at the end of the book facts about real underwater towns. In his novel, he shares his excitement and wonder at these lost towns through Iris, a girl who is brave and resourceful, determined to see all of the treasures before her. Sam, on the other hand, is content in their small town, eager to see the new statue in the town square unveiled, and also a true friend to Iris, who often pushes him away. Their friendship is complex and marvelous to see in a graphic novel format.
The art in this graphic novel is full of wonder and connection. When Iris finds a strange object, it is echoed later in the town she discovers. The town is falling apart from being underwater. This is captured in small and big details in the illustrations, that show the beauty of the elements of the town and all that was lost when water covered it over.
Based in real drowned towns, this graphic novel is a treasure worth seeking. Appropriate for ages 9-12.
A boy moves from the city to a new home in the forest. At first, the nights are too quiet and the mornings are too loud. He goes on hikes with his mother, but it takes him some time to discover that there is a lot to do in the forest. He starts studying the insects, building small rock dams for little fish, and also makes friends with a fox. The two of them spend their days living in parallel. Then one morning, there is a column of smoke on the horizon. The boy and his mother must leave their home and the animals flee in front of the burning forest. They all lose their homes in the blaze. Months later, everyone is safe and they begin to rebuild. The forest doesn’t look the same, but things are slowly returning, the forest healing itself.
Written by a volunteer firefighter, this picture book looks at the deep connectivity to home, particularly one where you experience nature and animals living around you. That first part of the book as the boy steadily grows to love his new home makes a strong foundation for the devastation that follows. Readers will worry about the fox and other animals who can’t leave in a car for safety. The story is moving and timely with the current wildfires.
The art really looks closely at nature and the forest habitat, filling the pages with verdant greens and lovely cool pools of water, flowers, fallen logs, and much more. Some of the pages are wordless, allowing readers to simply sink into the natural world along with the protagonist. The pages about the fire capture the eerie light of the blaze, filling the images with a sense of impending danger.
A look at connecting with nature and the resilience to start again. Appropriate for ages 3-5.