- Posted by Johanna on June 14, 2010 at 9:06 am
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- CREDITS: story by J. Torres; art by J. Bone
- PUBLISHER: Tundra Books; $10.95 US
This kids’ adventure series by J. Torres and J. Bone, formerly published by Oni Press, has just been rereleased by Tundra Books. To promote it, they’ve launched a blog tour, of which this post is part, and a photo contest. See below for details. (The publisher provided review copies.)
Alison Dare, Little Miss Adventures
This book collects three short adventures in which Alison, a pint-size Indiana Jones mixed with Nancy Drew, and her school friends Wendy (the smart, bookish one) and Dot (the athletic one) have fantastic experiences.
In “The Arabian Knights”, a bored Alison finds a genie. She’s on summer vacation in the desert with her archeologist mom, but language barriers (could you speak to an ancient Arabian genie?) cause humorous misunderstandings.
“The Secret of the Blue Scarab” is a flashback to how Alison’s parents met. Dad is the Blue Scarab, a famous superhero. Many cliches are played with here, from foreign romance to old-school costumed heroics, but the allusions make for fun moments of recognition.
In “The Mummy Child”, Alison tries to play “Parent Trap” with her mom and dad, staging a surprise picnic at the same time arch-villain Baron von Baron attempts to take their museum location hostage.
Bone’s open art is a wonderful counterpart to these funny tales of derring-do that don’t quite go as expected. His figures are simple and compact, suggesting unexpected power and ability. My only quibble is that, without color, the way he draws eyes as pupils within orbs looks odd to me. Still, I love the way the Blue Scarab resembles the classic Clark Kent.
Torres’ writing is playful, with occasional pop culture references. (The older reader will recognize quotes from such sources as Superman and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.) It’s his humor that gives Alison Dare its unique twist. Many kids dream of magical adventures, and Alison’s experiences fill that desire nicely.
Alison Dare: The Heart of the Maiden
This volume opens with “What I Did on My Summer Vacation, or Tomb Raider, Too”. The title telegraphs its intent, but it follows through on its promise. Alison tells her class about her trip with her mother to excavate an Egyptian tomb and what happened when an angry mummy woke up! Of course, with Alison, you never know how much she’s exaggerating, as the following retelling from an adult perspective makes clear. (I suspect this story was written before the other book, as here, we’re shown how much Alison’s imagination runs away with her. The stories in the other volume are played as adventure, without the framing context. They’re more fun that way.)
Additional short pieces build on the first, as Alison’s dad tries to find the right birthday present for her and she sneaks into her mother’s museum office/treasure trove. It’s a clever structure, revealing more as the reader progresses.
The second half of the book is one long tale, in which the girls sneak out of their boarding school to investigate hidden architectural wonders and discover fighting nuns, assisted by her uncle, world-renowned super-spy Johnny Dare. This is the adventure played most straight in the series, and I missed the touches of goofiness. The running joke about amnesia gas just didn’t make up for the lack compared to the overall lighter tone of the first book. Both are fun reads, but the first matched my tastes just a little bit more.
Blog Tour and Contest
Tundra Books has released a schedule and list of participating blogs. Follow the many links to find out what other book bloggers have said about Alison Dare. If these two reissues do well, there is potential for continuing adventures, which is something to hope for.
As for the contest, download these pictures of Alison and place her in your own exotic location. Send in your photo by the end of June for the chance to win a prize pack during the month of July.