Treasure in the Lake by Jason Pamment

Cover image for Treasure in the Lake.

Treasure in the Lake by Jason Pamment (9780063065185)

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.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by HarperAlley.

Khalil and Mr. Hagerty and the Backyard Treasures by Tricia Springstubb

Khalil and Mr. Hagerty and the Backyard Treasures by Tricia Springstubb, illustrated by Elaheh Taherian (9781536203066)

Khalil and his family moved into a new house with two floors. They lived on the top floor and Mr. Hagerty lived downstairs. Khalil’s family was loud while Mr. Hagerty was quiet. Both Khalil and Mr. Hagerty loved the backyard. Mr. Hagerty gardened there while Khalil looked for bugs and rocks. On a hot day in the summer, the two of them had a disappointing day where the carrots were small and shriveled and the ground was too hard to dig for treasure. They took a refreshment break in Mr. Hagerty’s place, sharing chocolate cake and cold milk. Later, both of them had an idea. The next day was much better when Mr. Hagerty found big carrots in his garden and Khalil found buried treasures! It called for more shared cake!

Springstubb shows how two very different people: quiet and loud, old and young, different races, can form a friendship that builds slowly and steadily over time. She keeps her story very focused, allowing many of the details to be shown in the illustrations rather than told in the text. The characters first bond over helping one another with words, which grows into something quite special. It’s that initial acceptance, the creation of a shared space of the backyard, that makes this book work so naturally.

Taherian’s illustrations are done in collage with oil and colored pencil. They have a great depth to them, the layers of the collage offering a real backyard to explore alongside the characters. The colors are vivid and glow with the summer heat and sun.

A lively look at emerging friendship and what it means to be neighbors. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Candlewick Press.

Review: Rosie’s Magic Horse by Russell Hoban

rosies magic horse

Rosie’s Magic Horse by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Quentin Blake

Rosie collects popsicle sticks that she finds on the ground, creating a collection.  But the popsicle sticks miss their cold sweet ice and wish that they were something more than just discarded sticks.  Maybe they could be a horse!  Meanwhile, Rosie’s parents are worried about bills and how they will pay them.  That night Rosie and the popsicle sticks head out on an adventure together as the popsicle sticks join to become a horse, Stickerino.  Rosie wants to find treasure and first the horse takes her to a mountain made of popsicle ice, but Rosie wants real treasure.  You know that that means pirates!  This story is a true flight of imagination, or perhaps a gallop!

Hoban and Blake are quite a team in this book.  Hoban writes in mostly dialogue here and throughout has a focus on brevity and clarity.  It works well against the wild imaginative nature of the book, making the text a firm foundation from which to launch.  Blake’s illustrations are quintessentially his with their jaunty lines and loose watercolor tones. 

Perfect for inspiring bedtime dreams of popsicles and horses, this book requires you to just go along for the ride.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.