Friday, November 09, 2018

Middle-Grade Review: The Unsinkable Walker Bean

Pirates, sea creatures, evil bad guys, walking teapots and other strange inventions. The middle-grade graphic novel, The Unsinkable Walker Bean by Aaron Renier, is an inventive and slightly spooky fantasy with all those elements and more.

Like children all over the world (the world in the novel), Walker Bean grew up hearing the legend of how the evil merwitch sisters, Tartessa and Remora, destroyed the city of Atlantis and were sentenced to live underwater in a deep trench at the bottom of the ocean, surrounded by a wall of enchanted skeletons that keep them apprised of life in the world above. In the present day, Walker is sitting by the side of his grandfather's sick bed, when his father bursts into the room, claiming to have one of the enchanted skulls. A ship's captain, he thinks he can sell it to a wealthy buyer across the sea, though grandfather, a ship captain himself in his better days, insists that it must be returned to the deep trench or it will cause great problems throughout the world, as it has already caused his mysterious illness. Walker stows away on a pirate ship, intending to return the cursed skull to the trench, and his adventures on the high seas begin.
Sample page - The Unsinkable Walter Bean
This is a highly detailed and creative fantasy story, filled with all kinds of creatures, made-up places, and good guys and bad guys. Walker makes a friend on board, another young boy who keeps his secret, as the ship heads toward danger, and the two friends scheme to somehow turn it around. Full-color illustrations - some on regular comic panels and some full two-page spreads - follow Walker's adventures. I found the story a bit convoluted at times, so it is probably best-suited for older middle-grade readers and maybe young teens. Kids who like fast-paced and action-packed fantasy will enjoy this entry into Walker's world, which was recently followed by a second book, The Unsinkable Walker Bean and the Knights of the Waxing Moon. In fact, I think my own two sons would have loved this series when they were younger!

192 pages, First Second

Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. My review is my own opinion and is not influenced by my relationship with the publisher or author.

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See more sample pages from the beginning of the book by clicking Look Inside at this link.

You can purchase The Unsinkable Walker Bean from an indie bookstore, locally or online here:
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  1. I could see this appealing to a lot of middle grade students!

    1. I think so - I think my own sons would have liked it. My youngest LOVED the Sardine series of graphic novels, about space pirates - kind of reminds me of that!