Monday, January 8, 2018

Picture Book Monday with a review of The Dam Keeper

I have a big soft spot in my bookish heart for graphic novels. I grew up reading the Tintin stories and The Adventures of Asterix the Gaul over and over again, so perhaps this is not surprising. These days quite a few publishing houses are creating beautiful graphic novels, and one of my favorite houses is First Second. Today I bring you a review of one of their titles, which delighted me when I read it. It is the first book in a series and I can't wait to see what happens next.

The Dam KeeperThe Dam Keeper
Robert Kondo
Daisuke “Dice” Tsutsumi
Graphic Novel
For ages 8 and up
First Second, 2017, 978-1-62672-426-6
Sunrise Valley is a pretty place, and the residents lead peaceful, normal lives. Most of them don’t think about the fact that the only reason that they are able live as they do is because of the dam. Long ago Pig’s father invented the dam to keep out the fog. The fog is a deadly phenomenon that killed Pig’s mother and countless others. Beyond the dam the fog has laid waste to the world.
   For some reason that no one can understand, after teaching Pig how to maintain the dam, his father walked out into the fog and is presumed dead.
   Now Pig manages the dam alone, making sure that it does what it is supposed to do to blow back the fog every time the black cloud rolls in and bares down on the village. Being the dam keeper means that Pig is not quite like everyone else. He knows the danger that lurks beyond the wall of the dam, and lives with the responsibility that his father left him to shoulder on his own.
   Fox is the only young animal in the village who seems to like Pig, and her friendship makes all the difference in his life. Unfortunately, Fox is friends with Hippo, and Hippo loves to bully Pig. Fox insists that Pig just needs to spend time with Hippo to see that the big guy isn’t all that bad; which is why she brings Hippo to the dam on day to see Pig.
   Pig is not best pleased to see Hippo, but he tries to be accommodating for Fox’s sake. Which is when the fog rolls in, and this time the wave is enormous. So enormous is it that the dam does not hold. Pig, Fox, and Hippo are dragged out into the wasteland beyond the dam when the fog pulls back. For the first time ever, Pig’s father’s invention does not hold back the darkness.
   This remarkable graphic novel takes readers into a world where danger is never that far, though most of the animals in Sunrise Valley don’t realize it. We see how Pig has been shaped by the loss in his life, and how he tries to come to terms with the fact that all is not what it seems. It turns out that there is something beyond the dam after all.
   This is the first title in what promises to be a wonderful series. 

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