Bone: Quest for the Spark, Book 1
Finished: Feb. 13, 2011
First Published: Feb. 1, 2011
Genre: children, fantasy
In the early morning hours, just before dawn came to the Valley, Tom Elm was dreaming.
Acquired: Received a review copy from Scholastic Canada.
Reason for Reading: I plan on reading "Bone" the graphic series this year, I've read one, just received the first 3 in the mail. And the idea of a new Bone story in chapter book form was intriguing. Plus I love Jeff Smith's illustrations.
So, as I've said I'm new to the Bone universe only having read one book at the time of this review, "Tall Tales". I loved it and I know for purest of the series it's not exactly known for being one of the best of the series. So I know I'm in for a treat.
That said, no previous knowledge of Bone is needed for this knew chapter book series. The very little background info I had was explained anyway, such as "what is a rat creature?" Tom Elm, is a turnip farmer's son who one day found a bit of interesting rock in the biggest turnip they ever grew. He has kept it hung around his neck as a good luck charm ever since, not that it's brought him any luck. Tom has lately been having horrible nightmares filled with darkness and shadows in which he is being smothered and drowned and one night the stone shines and saves his life. This is when he and his adopted brother Roderick the Raccoon are told about the terrible evil going on which is invading both the Dreaming and the Waking World, which will continue until it has squelched out the entire world in evil blackness. Tom has been chosen to find other fragments of the Spark (one of which he already has around his neck) and defeat the evil.
In this particular book Tom has visions of him being in a group of eight people setting off for this quest. So following the Sparks visions he and Roderick set off to collect the other six. In the meantime the whole book follows the exploits of all the members of the soon-to-be group of questers as they go about there business. Other than Tom & Randolph, we have a Bone family of Percival F. Bone Explorer Extraordinaire and his two charges Abbey & Barclay who are setting off to find this valley that the Bone cousins have talked about. Then there is a former Veni Yan warrior who is a shell of his former self since his adventures left his wife and children home alone to be killed and now he is a drunk who tells tales of the glory days in exchange for drinks. Finally, and shocking to all other members, the Dreaming insists that two Rat Creatures who are being hunted down by their king for waking him up while stealing his dinner, have also been chosen to be a part of this quest.
The book was a lot of fun. Typical quest fantasy, with a motley crew of creatures found in the world. Tom Elm is a good leader/hero for the group. He doesn't want to be a leader and though he's always dreamt of being a hero one day, the reality of it isn't so much fun. But he's been given the power of the Visions and at first reluctantly and later accepts that he has been given an important job to do and he'd better do it right. He's a humble fellow, but when following the Visions, the others mostly older than him follow quietly as they all know the wisdom of the Dreaming. A fun story with lots of humour, but also quite a dark story, hence my 10+ age recommendation. Intense and scary scenes may frighten some younger children. I know my sensitive son is going to be covering his eyes at the intense bits but I think he'll get through OK and will really enjoy it. There is one Smith illustration per chapter, but some chapters are longish so it made me wish there were more illustrations. There were certain scenes I would have loved to have seen illustrated but it must be tough to pick only one scene to illustrate from a whole chapter. I did catch a blooper in one illustration though. On page 159, when the tree grows out through the middle of the building all of our good guys are watching on one side, but wait a minute Abbey and Barclay are there too. They are not supposed to be, because at that exact moment in time they are up in the sky driving the airship "Queen of the Sky" hopefully coming to the others rescue! Oops. Looking forward to the next book in the series as the Quest really gets going, now that we have all the members gathered together.