Cast Away on the Letter A HC
Publisher: Toon
Release Date: September 9, 2014
Price: $16.95
Creator: Fred
Format: 48 pgs., Full-Color, Hardcover
ISBN: 978-1-9351-7963-4
Age Rating: 8-12 years
ICv2 Rating: 4 Stars out of 5
To kick off Toon's new series of books for older children, this book is a good but quirky start.  Best known in Europe for this series, the artist known as "Fred" created graphic albums for over 40 years, beginning at the age of 41.  This book is part of his most famous work, the Philemon series, which was originally published and encouraged by Rene Goscinny, of Asterix fame.
Philemon is the kind of person who has adventures.  In this case, simply going to the well for water leads to him being drawn into an adventure involving messages in bottles, the letters on a map representing letter-shaped islands, and a host of other goofy things.  Halfway between the humorous near-realism of Tintin and the hallucinatory Little Nemo in Slumberland, the book will be very entertaining for kids who have already read a few books in the Franco-Belgian tradition.
The artwork is simplistic and cartoony, but with many little details that will fascinate readers who take the time to look.  Notes in the back of the book cover everything from the history of centaurs to information about Robinson Crusoe.  Some of the notes are more rambling than factual, but that fits the mood of the book quite well.
Aimed primarily at school-aged children, older readers may find it enjoyable as well.
--Nick Smith: Library Technician, Community Services, for the Pasadena Public Library in California