- Bad Island
No one is happy about the boating trip meant to save Reese, Janie, and their parents from becoming even more distant from each other, but the family members quickly set aside their suddenly irrelevant differences when the boat wrecks on an island that’s more death trap than balmy tropical location. Weird plants and animals threaten their lives, an odd mystery may awaken an ages-old island spirit, and the dead snake (the remains of the young girl’s pet, whic unfortunately did not survive the initial wreck) they are carrying around is starting to decompose—all in all, it’s a rough vacation. A cool subplot in this graphic novel involving an interplanetary battle (tied to the mystery behind this bad island, which is actually a giant alien [End Page 112] in cryo-sleep for 1500 years) draws on the same family struggles and bonding as the story of the humans, gently making points about the universality of children testing boundaries and, almost always, landing somewhere more appreciative of their parents on the other side. The polished, accessible illustrations feature a dark palette (grey tones for the alien battles, greens and browns for the island) that emphasizes the dangers that abound. Frequent comic-book-style exclamations, a sharp and well-developed plot, and gripping visual struggles make this an ideal selection to offer reluctant readers or adventure-focused kids moving out of comics and into graphic novels.