Many years ago, author and illustrator Don Wood graced us with his presence at our annual literature conference. Bless his heart (as we say down here in the south), on his arduous journey to Texas (fog at one end and thunderstorms at the other), his luggage was lost. I took him by the local Wal Mart for some supplies and clean clothes. The next day he wowed us all with his good-natured response to what was a long day. He even signed books for me after the conference was over. So, I do continue to have a soft spot in my heart for him. Now he offers tween and teen readers a graphic novel of adventure in INTO THE VOLCANO (Scholastic, Blue Sky Press, October 2008). Sumo and Duffy head off with Cousin Come-and-Go to a volcanic island to visit their auntie. There the adventure gets even deeper as the boys are forced on a journey into the maw of lava flow. Kidnapping, theft, greed, and danger at every turn propels this book forward much like the boat that takes Sumo and Duffy into a new world filled with peril. The colors reflect the mood and tone nicely here; the bright reds and oranges lighting up an ominous smoke filled sky. As the danger lessens, the colors lighten almost imperceptibly at first. Science teachers will want to get hold of this GN to use when discussing volcanic activity in classes. Art teachers will find it valuable for illustrating style and color and perspective and all that other stuff. I think this is Don's first foray into the world of older readers. I hope it is not his last. Along with Michael Hague's INTO THE SMALL, we are beginning to see some illustrators cross over to the "dark" side and offer tweens and teens captivating graphic fare.
One other note. Scholastic has included on the back cover of the ARC a note about not selling it (and that is fairly standard). However, I love that they suggest donating the ARC to children or to charities that get books to those in need. I already donate my ARCs (and many of my other review books) to schools with little budgets for new books. It is nice to see a publisher making such a suggestion.