06 August 2008

A Somewhat Familiar Unfamiliar World

Economic straits force a newly single mom and her kids to move into an old family mansion, long deserted. As the kids explore their new home, they discover odd creatures--some friendly but trying, others outright hostile.

It turns out the ancestor who lived in that house was studying the fantastic beings around him, and has disappeared into their world. Then the creatures kidnap a member of the family. An older sister and younger brother left behind have to venture into the dangerous, fantastic, parallel world to restore their family.

The Spiderwick Chronicles, by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black? Yes, that and probably some other stories, too.

But right now I'm looking at the first volume of Amulet, a graphic-novel series by writer-illustrator Kazu Kibuishi from Scholastic's Graphix imprint. Kibuishi also edited last year's Cybils nominee Flight, volume 4. Since this book ends at a cliffhanger and Book 2 (of three to five total) is scheduled for fall 2009, I don't feel up for assessing the story yet. The character development seems still to be at a very early stage.

Of course, if Kibuishi continues to finish a new volume every year and a half, the initial target readership will have grown up by the time the story is done. That may not matter with a series like Harry Potter, in which each installment has its own narrative arc, but this first volume of Amulet is definitely only part of a whole.

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