Thursday, October 06, 2011

Book Review: Out from Boneville, by Jeff Smith (Scholastic edition, 2005)

Recommended for ages 11-13

Jeff Smith's Bone was a popular comic book title in the '90s, winning four Eisner Awards, and three Harvey Awards in 1994. Later on, the book caught on with kids as graphic novels gained more acceptance among educators. Scholastic has taken the 55-issue comic book series and repackaged them into a series of graphic novels. Out from Boneville is the first volume of this series, which follows the adventures of three cousins as they blunder into a fantasy world after being run out of their home, Boneville.

Phoncibile (Phoney for short) Bone is greedy and arrogant, which we are led to believe caused his ouster; Smiley Bone is the laid back one, and Fone Bone, our protagonist, is high-strung but an overall nice guy. Drawn as white humanoid shapes, the Bones resemble Casper with legs. The art is cartoon-like, very tween-friendly, and the banter is light and fun. Even the rat monsters who spend much of the novel trying to eat Fone Bone and seek out Phoney Bone for some dark reason are bumbling and goofy.

Out from Boneville sets up the entire Bone series, so  the storyline leaves a lot of questions unanswered by the end, but they are questions I am willing to pick up another volume to continue the journey.

 For teachers interested in working with graphic novels, Scholastic offers a guide for teachers and librarians (with mentions of Bone). Jeff Smith also maintains a Boneville web page with his touring schedule, his blog, and a section devoted to Bone.

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