Thursday, December 28, 2006

Travels of Thelonious - Susan Schade, Jon Buller

Travels of Thelonious is written by Susan Schade and illustrated by Jon Buller. It's a curious mixture of comic book and novel - with the narrative alternating between the two.

Thelonious is a young chipmunk who lives in a tree in a world where humans exist only in legend, having long ago destroyed the environment for themselves, but apparently (and rather curiously) not for animals, many of which have developed the power of human speech. During a violent rain storm, Thelonious' tree is ripped from the ground and he is swept away down the river to a city that is populated by animals, most of whom are criminals. Fortunately he soon finds himself making friends with Olive (a bear with a gift for mechanics), Fitzgerald (a porcupine who lives in a bookshop and guards the books that were left there when the humans died out), and Brown (a lizard who joins their group to escape a life of slavery). The four of them attempt to find their way back to the idyllic commune where Olive used to live, which is atop the Fog Mound. Unfortunately, I found the narrative rather too heavy-handed in demonstrating the evils of humanity and its lack of concern for the environment (quite apart from my bafflement about how the animals survived when the humans didn't), and the story takes a ridiculously idealistic turn once the animals arrive at the Fog Mound. I also have to confess to find comic books/graphic novels unsatisfactory to my very word-oriented mind ! I think younger readers would probably enjoy it, in spite of the moralising, but it left me feeling a little blank.

Travels of Thelonious is also available from

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