Skip to main content

Bad Island by Doug TenNapel, 219pp, RL 4

Bad Island is Doug TenNapel's second graphic novel for kids, Ghostopolis being his first. TenNapel does a great job world building and creating an environment you get sucked into a few pages into his book. What I love about TenNapel's work is the way he subtly weaves themes of love and family into his action packed stories. With Bad Island we meet a family preparing for a vacation on board a boat and not everyone is happy about the trip. Teenager Reese spends his last free minutes trying to convince his parents to let him stay home alone. Mom, the botanist, is frantically trying to rig up a drip system to keep her rare orchid alive while she is gone and Janie is increasingly frantic as she tries to find her pet snake Pickles and furious as no one will help her. When the family finally makes it on board the boat they are quickly sucked up into an unanticipated storm that leaves them ship wrecked on an uncharted island. A bad island...
However, Bad Island actually begins with the words, "Another world, another time..." and shows us an alien race of giants who are trying to save a race of human-like creatures from enslavement. Despite their battle armor, the giants are no match for the enormous, viscous bug creatures that attack their homes. These creatures and their fate collide with Reese and his family thousands of years later on Bad Island. Just who is good and who is bad is the real question, though, 


TenNapel uses flashbacks and moments of suspense to illustrate both the tension and the love between father and son in Bad Island in both story lines. When the family works together on Bad Island to make sense of the strange plant life, markings and creatures they encounter, they grow closer and the danger feels a bit less ever present. As noted in a review for School Library Journal, "There's a tenderness that the characters have endured and helps to round them out and make them more believeable. You actually can feel the love and strength that the family has built their foundation on since the birth of Reese." Best of all, though, is the comic relief from Janie and her stowaway pet snake Pickles, who does not survive the shipwreck.

TenNapel's creature creations are creepy and brilliant and echo some of the creations of filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, especially his films Nausica and Princess Mononoke. Like Ghostopolis, Bad Island is a book that demands multiple readings. First, read for the fast paced story. Second time, read for the detailed creatures. Third time, look for clues you might have missed in the first two readings. I can't wait to see what Mr TenNapel conjures up next!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!

Be…

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers

How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers remains the most read post on my blog since I wrote it in 2012. Because of this, I have cleaned up this post, tightened the writing and added in any pertinent information that has come about since it originally ran. When I first started books4yourkids.com in August of 2008, I was scrambling for content, finding my purpose and my voice and not always doing my best writing. How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers was one of the first articles I wrote and, as a bookseller and a book reviewer, and now as an elementary school librarian where I have gone from working with kids reading well beyond their grade level to kids reading well below, this philosophy remains my organizing principle and central focus when reading and recommending books to parents and children. 

In the interest of my mission and the attention this article continues to receive, I have updated and expanded this article and included a guide to using …