kellyrfineman (kellyrfineman) wrote,

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The Unsinkable Walker Bean by Aaron Renier

Right there, at the top of the cover, is a blurb from Brian Selznick, author/illustrator of the extremely engaging The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which I hear is going to be a movie starring (wait for it) people including Ben Kingsley, Jude Law, and Christopher Lee. And there was much rejoicing! But I digress. The Selznick blurb says "Be prepared. You're going to love it."

Well, Mr. Selznick, let me tell you something. You were absolutely correct! It only took a few pages of this graphic novel to capture my attention (and affection) hook, line and sinker. (See what I just did there?) It opens with a boy (the terribly clever Walker Bean) interacting with his grandfather, who is telling him wild stories - like the Princess Bride, only not, because in this case, Walker and his grandfather are about to become part of the story.

I frankly don't want to tell you all that much about the plot, except to say that involves pirates, cursed skulls, sea-crab merwitches, rat-like monkeys, corrupt naval officers (including Walker's own father - *shakes fist at Walker's father*), a girl called Genoa who has some funny-looking ears, a boy named Gustavo Cuchillo (called "Stiv"), a dog named Perrogi, an eye-patch wearing granny/cook who has a mechanical teapot named "Stout" to do her bidding (Stout slices, dices and julienne fries - but wait! there's more!). There are inventions and contraptions and devices. There are adventures and misadventures and mishaps. There are maps and a forgotten language that can be decoded using a handy-dandy drawing on page 103. There is, quite obviously, far more going on here than meets the eye and, moreover, there is obviously an entire history leading up to this book, including folklore and legends and songs.

And the art. Oh, the art. *swoon* The contraptions and devices are so cool, and the images are all made of awesome. And Alec Longstreth, who did the color, was a genius. All the dark blues and blacks and greys of the night shots are terrific. And the cover image above isn't nearly as awesome as the actual cover, on which the words "Walker Bean" are not yellow print, but gold foil (or whatever it is one uses on covers).
You can see some of the inside spreads in Aaron Renier's blog post about the book, and you can see more by going to, you'll be able to "look inside the book" and see actual pages. Although - here. You can look at one page here, okay?

This book is, I am sorry to tell you, not available until September.

But if you like graphic novels and/or pirates and/or legends and/or adventures and/or sea goddesses/monsters/myths and/or Atlantis, put this on your must-buy list. Meanwhile, I shall continue to quietly gloat over the review copy that the good folks at :01 (First Second) were kind enough to send me.

Kiva - loans that change lives

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Tags: book reviews, graphic novels, renier

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