by Susan Schade and Jon Buller, published 2006
Book 1: Travels with Thelonius
Book 2: Faradawn
“The old porcupine was standing over me, hands on his hips. He was wearing pants that were held up by straps and there was a hole in the back where his tail stuck out.”
Graphic novels, like comics books in days gone by, are often the only kind of book some kids will read. So how to interest them in a ‘real’ children’s book? The Fog Mound series is one answer. It’s a like a half-way house for readers who still need pictures. Half of this children’s book is written as a graphic novel; however, after each such chapter, there’s a proper literary chapter, with a lovely typeface and good writing.
All of which is just the superficial part of this book. The deeper part is that it tells a very interesting story. The plot revolves around animals creating a utopia from the ruins of civilization brought on by humans. One could read this children’s book as a doomsday book. However, since we have not yet destroyed civilization, I read it more as an optimistic look at what could be possible even today.
It’s also quite humorous to see our human world through the eyes of an animal who has never experienced civilization. It almost makes our current world into historical fiction.
Finally, of course, there’s nothing more I enjoy than the fantasy of a utopia. This is not a ‘dystopian’ book at all, thank goodness. It lets children read about possibilities. The fact that the only remaining statue in the garden is a Buddha is not a coincidence, but a pointing to something we all deeply yearn for – peace and harmony in a world that continues to lose touch with it. I love the book, and it would be great for fourth grade and up. I thought the first book was a bit more interesting than the second, only because the ploy of humans ruining the world starts to wear thin. I’m not sure I’m interested in the third book. However, given that the books are half-graphic novel, if a young person gets into the whole series, that’s terrific. They are offering a positive message and good reading.