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Into The Volcano Hardcover – October 1, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 5-8–This intense mystery-adventure coming-of-age chapter book is done in comic-book style–something of a departure for Wood. Two brothers, Duffy and Sumo, are sent to Hawaii to visit their mysterious aunt, who hustles them off on a perilous expedition into the bowels of an erupting volcano, accompanied by strangers whose skills are obvious, but whose trustworthiness is not. The dangers the boys face are terrifying, especially an interlude during which Sumo, wracked by guilt and indecision after he thinks his brother has fallen to his death, is trapped in the dark on an underground cliff and is visited by the specter of Death. That the children, who appear to be 10 or 12, have been exposed to such peril knowingly by an adult who has been entrusted with their care is a dark vein running through the story. Wood's vividly colored artwork brings the perils the siblings face into startling focus. Keenly observed depictions of the Hawaiian landscape and geological processes lend an impressive veracity to this exciting and unusual offering. It is a rare example of a graphic novel for young people that is neither manga nor mainstream.–Paula Willey, Baltimore County Public Library, Towson, MD
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Brothers Duffy and Sumo Pugg embark on an adventure after their eccentric aunt invites them to come see the island of Kocalaha, their mother’s birthplace. Duffy, excited to get away from the gloomy winter in their hometown, jumps at the chance, but Sumo is worried: a lot of things could go wrong so far away from home. The boys are taken into the heart of a volcano to explore and learn more about their heritage, but the seemingly dormant volcano is in the midst of waking up. The situation quickly becomes perilous, and between the volcano’s power and shocking revelations of family secrets, it appears neither boy will make it out alive. With such a thrilling story, Wood scores points for both pacing and characterization. The action moves along at breakneck speed, and through all of the twists and turns, the reader is left wondering if the boys will survive. The art is beautifully rendered in thick bold lines and a rich color palette and is a nice break from the mainstream comic style. Although this adventure may be a little too scary for younger readers on their own, it makes a fun book for parents and children to share together. Grades 4-7. --Tina Coleman

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 240L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Blue Sky Press; First Edition edition (October 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439726719
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439726719
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #609,593 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Audrey and Dan Wood have collaborated on many award-winning picture books, including King Bidgood's in the Bathtub, a Caldecott Honor Book and The Napping House, an ALA Notable Children's Book and a Booklist Editors' Choice. They live in Hawaii.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By R. T. Marshall III on September 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I've been trying to think of unique ways to describe this graphic novel without using "visually stunning" and "breathtakingly beautiful," but I can't do it. Every panel is a work of art. The scenes where the lava meets the ocean are perfect. It's just ink on a page, but Wood captures the light, the hiss, and the heat. The graphic novel not only stands up to artistic scrutiny, but also has a gripping story.

It's a mystery, adventure that appeals to a younger audience, but I found myself engrossed. Brothers, Sumo and Duffy, are pulled out of class unexpectedly by their father to be shipped off to an island with a mysterious cousin they've never met. The whole enterprise is shady, and when the boys meet Auntie, it gets even more suspicious. The book twists and turns, so the reader is never quite sure who's good and who's bad. The boys have to do some self-reflection.

Wood's artistic portrayals of the characters captivated me. I was shaken by overweight Auntie with her greenish-pink skin and broken foot. I immediately knew something wasn't quite right with her. You can almost smell her. The boys have a pugish Hawaiian look, which made me not fall for them right away. That's a good thing. Most books aimed at younger audiences try to win the reader over to the protagonist's side with sentimentality too soon. Wood's style and scope gives the book a cinematic depth that I have rarely seen in graphic novels. One panel you're in the boat with the characters, waves pounding; the next you have a bird's eye view. It sets a fast adventure pace that young readers will love.

Overall, I'll be shocked if Into The Volcano doesn't win some awards.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Monica Edinger on September 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Wow. Don Wood's Into the Volcano is one powerhouse of a graphic novel that you won't want to miss. In fact, as far as missing goes, I almost missed my bus stop so engrossed was I in this totally wild adventure in and under and around an erupting volcano. The word gripping is completely apt for this (here comes another trite but accurate word) roller coaster of a read. Wood grabs you on the first page as brothers Duffy and Sumo are called out of their classroom to meet their father who immediately turns them over to a cousin they have never met before, the burly Come-And-Go. Before any of us can take a breath, the two boys (who appear to be between 8 and 12 years of age) are flying off to their just-learned-about mother's home island of Kocalaha. Once there they and we are thrown into an extraordinary adventure involving questionable people (are they good or bad?), an erupting volcano, secrets (of every sort), life and death circumstances, heart-stopping moments (many of them!), and family ties. A truly brilliant work.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAME on October 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Look, I hate to burst your bubble but not every picture book illustrator born is necessarily cut out to write his or her own graphic novel. It's an entirely different set of muscles, after all. Melding text and image well enough to sustain a story means having a firm grasp of what does and does not work as a comic. So I know you might have gotten all excited when you heard that Don Wood had written a graphic novel, but don't be happy because a great Caldecott-winning illustrator has dipped his toe in a new format. Be happy because the man is good at it. Crazy good. He may have amused you with King Bidgood's in the Bathtub or entertained your children with his The Napping House but sister you ain't seen anything like to compare to his breathtakingly beautiful Into the Volcano. The past ten years have seen incredible strides in graphic novels for children. Into the Volcano appears to be the next logical step in the process. A full-color adventure with double crosses, death-defying escapes, and personal growth, it has no equal.

The Pugg brothers Duffy and Sumno are just sitting in their classroom in the dead of winter one moment and the next they're being whisked off to the island nation of Kocalaha. It seems their Aunt Lulu has been longing for a visit from her nephews and Duffy, for one, is thrilled. Sumo's far more reticent and likely to complain, a quality that doesn't serve a person well in Kocalaha. Soon they meet their cousin Mister Come-and-Go who disappears and reappears without a warning.
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Format: Hardcover
Don Wood's INTO THE VOLCANO presents an outstanding graphic novel by an award-winning artist who himself lives in a tropical jungle. His story tells of two brothers facing an erupting volcano, and how their expedition changes a vacation hike into a dangerous battle for survival against not only nature, but human greed. Reluctant readers who love graphic novel/comic book formats will find the detailed adventure easy to absorb, with its pages packed with action and color illustrations.
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Format: Paperback
My 13 yr old son got this out of the school library, read it, and then gave it to me to read. He knows I'm a graphic novel fanatic! What he didn't know is that I was already familiar with Don Wood's excellent work. I used to be a preschool teacher, and we loved the books he did with his wife, Audrey Wood.

Art wise: I can't think of anyone else who could convincingly illustrate a volcano so well. Imagine a real volcano; the heat, the blinding white and orange lava flows, and the rock. The volcano in the story is on an island, and the characters approach it by sea. Don Wood's illustration of the water and the white heat of the volcano are nothing short of spectacular. The characters have wonderfully expressive faces.

I thought the characters were convincingly human. Some of the adults show bad judgment and intentions, but they aren't some kind of cardboard villains. They're real people who aren't all bad, just people who did some bad things. The same is true of the others...the boys' mother is heroic and loving, yet also show poor judgment and greed. The adults argue with each other. The two brothers act like real children; they fuss at each other, stick up for each other, and have unique personalities. The child Sumo is the main protagonist and we see him face his fears and grow throughout the story.

Some have said they found the story a bit disjointed. I suppose it is in places, but I didn't find it hard to follow at all. I thought it interestingly quirky at times! For instance, Sumo wanders onto the beach one night and meets a beautiful young woman night surfing. He looks at her and says, "You're perfect." She says, "No, I'm not. I have an overbite. I make snap judgments, and I don't surf as well as I could." (Paraphrased from memory.)

All in all an excellent book which I plan to acquire for my graphic novel collection.
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