Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Spiral Bound

Spiral Bound might be best described as a Richard Scarry Busytown book for adolescents. This graphic novel follows the lives of a few young animals, including Turnip the elephant who is becoming an artist during summer break, Ana the rabbit who is an investigative reporter looking for a story, and Stucky the dog who is building a submarine. Their different pursuits eventually lead them all to the town pond where a mysterious monster is supposed to lurk. Even though all of the characters are anthropomorphic animals, what really comes through are their distinct personalities and the emotional directness of their interactions. These are some very human critters...

This was the first book written and drawn by Aaron Renier, the Eisner Award winner for Talent Deserving Wider Recognition in 2006. He has illustrated for a variety of publications including a series of Knights of the Round Table books written by Gerald Morris. He has recently published another graphic novel The Unsinkable Walker Bean for First Second Books.

Spiral Bound was nominated for the 2006 Eisner Award for Best Work for a Younger Audience, and it has been generally well received. The American Library Association included it on their 2010 "Good Comics for Kids" list. Reviewer Greg McElhatton gushed that it was a "must read" and a "tour-de-force." The Onion A.V. Club sum things up well, writing that even though Renier's art looks like it's aimed at children, "his storytelling is sophisticated, his characters are winning and sympathetic, and his bizarre conceits—like the whale who teaches art classes from a giant truck-mounted fishbowl—are a constant source of surprises."

A preview is available here from the book's publisher Top Shelf.

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