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The Unsinkable Walker Bean

by Aaron Renier

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

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The Unsinkable Walker Bean by Aaron Renier
© First Second
First Second, August 2010

Sea witches, pirates, Atlantis, talking skulls, marvelous inventions - how could I not love this book?

Walker Bean is a bookish pre-teen whose grandfather, an admiral in the navy, falls ill after gazing upon a cursed skull taken from a deep ocean trench in the Mango Islands. The trench is home to Remora and Tartessa, two giant, horrifying, arachnidesque sea witches who, as it happens, would like to have their skull back - thank you very much - and are coming to get it.

The sea witches are not the only ones after the skull. The Admiral's son (Walker's father) has partnered with a suspicious-looking doctor to sell the skull in the North for untold riches, and there is also a mangy band of pirates, including a girl whose swordsmanship could put Inigo Montoya to shame, and Shiv, an affable, musically-inclined deckhand destined to become Walker's compatriot in this swashbuckling adventure.
I was drawn to but reluctant to crack this book when it appeared on my doorstep. An already full plate of reading has largely kept me away from graphic novels; this was a happy exception. The Unsinkable Walker Bean may be written for nine to twelve-year-olds, but this is the sort of rip-roaring adventure tale that transcends age (something I discovered while reading it with my son).

Aaron Renier received the Eisner award for "cartoonist deserving wider recognition" for his first graphic novel, Spiral-Bound. In The Unsinkable Walker Bean, he delivers a story full of action, wonderful illustrations, and lustrous color (a palette of 75 colors were chosen using old children’s books for inspiration). Perhaps, like me, your reading time is already earmarked for other books; pick up a copy anyway. You can always read this with your kids.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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