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Unsinkable Walker Bean, The (The Unsinkable Walker Bean) Paperback – August 17, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 4-7–Throughout his childhood, pudgy, bespectacled Walker Bean has listened to his grandfather's tales of adventure on the open seas. Now Walker finds himself smack-dab in the middle of his own thrilling escapade when his ailing grandfather asks him to return a human skull to a trench deep in the ocean floor. Once part of a skeleton of a witch's enemy, this skull has now been transformed into pearl. Armed with his grandfather's journal, an amazing message bottle, assistance from a few trusted friends, and his own clever and inventive mind, Walker braves pirates, evil witches, and his own fears in this tale of derring-do and skullduggery. Renier's tale is a youngster's dream: adventure with a capital A. The graphic art moves the story along with excellent page layout and a brilliant color palette that serve as fireworks, lighting up the pages with cannon muzzle blasts and ships ablaze. Clever writing, though sometimes a little convoluted for young readers, is filled with humor and puns. Readers should be prepared to suspend all logic and ties to reality. They will find a ship with a garden complete with large fruit trees and a gardener who practices composting onboard. The crew uses matches and employs phrases such as "Holy Guacamole." But for those who are ready to lay aside these concerns for a while and take off with Walker in an adventure of a lifetime, this is an exciting choice.Barbara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* At first glance, this graphic novel looks like a mishmash of time-honored seafaring fantasy-adventure tropes: ancient curses with vague hints of Atlantis and a lost treasure; pirates more lovable than rascally pitted against greedy starched-shirt colonial naval types; and of course the outwardly meek but plucky-under-fire boy hero. But while Renier certainly hits all of those notes, he isn't content to simply let the story coast once under way—which takes only a panel or two to get cracking. Instead, he keeps throwing newer and neater elements into the fray. The excitement centers around a cursed skull stolen from the lair of two deep-sea crustacean witches. Like all who look upon the skull, Walker's beloved Grandpa falls deathly ill when he finds it, and the boy sets out to return the skull from whence it came. In two of the more impressively clever feats, the inventive lad turns a pirate ship into a proto-all-terrain vehicle and uses an enormous blank canvas to recreate the night sky, subverting the navigational course of the ship. The generous page size lets reader dive into Renier's quavery and painstakingly detailed cartooning, and he really shows off his stuff with a bounty of full-splash dazzlers. Though a smidgen light on characterization, this comic really is just about everything you want from a rip-roaring adventure: exciting, deep, funny, and scary, with tremendous villains and valor galore. Grades 5-8. --Ian Chipman

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 4 and up
  • Series: The Unsinkable Walker Bean (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: First Second; First Edition edition (August 17, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596434538
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596434530
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 0.4 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #216,402 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

AARON RENIER was born and raised in Green Bay Wisconsin. He has been drawing comics, in one way or another, for as long as he can remember. His illustrations have appeared in a wide variety of places, including turning an entire city bus into a moving aquarium. He won the Eisner award for cartoonist deserving wider recognition for his first graphic novel Spiral-Bound. He is the illustrator of a series of books about the knights of the roundtable by Gerald Morris, and a picture book by Alice Shertle titled An Anaconda Ate My Homework. He lives in Chicago IL, with his dog trusty hound, Beluga.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Nicola Mansfield on September 25, 2010
Format: Paperback
Reason for Reading: My son loves seafaring tales and this looked wonderful.

This is a beautiful book to behold. The illustrations are so bold, vibrant and full of details. The panels have so much going on in the background that one can look into them and see something new each time. We are even treated to the occasional two-page spread illustration. While some of these may be focused on a large central figure, the background will still hold many small details that one should linger on so as not to miss, but on the other hand there are a couple of amazingly intricately detailed two-page spreads that just make you want to keep looking to see what you are missing before turning the page.

Walker Bean has been sent off to sea by his grandfather, who has commanded Walker's father to return a cursed skull to its rightful place. Knowing that the father will not follow through, probably sell it somewhere, Walker is charged with making sure the job gets done. You see, grandfather bought that skull, looked at it and is now near death's door unless it is returned to its guardians. What follows is a rip-roaring yarn full of sea adventure mostly of the perilous kind.

While the story is not a fantasy per se, one must be able to suspend reality while reading of Walker Bean's adventures as they are of the most bizarre nature. Be prepared to meet pirates, a pirate girl who has turned the bow of the ship into a garden complete with lemon tree, great monstrous sea hags of legend and a cursed skull to begin with. Walker is a congenial protagonist who will appeal to all readers, wearing glasses, pudgy, reluctantly on the mission, but brave and determined. On the pirate ship Walker teams up with similarly aged Shiv and Genoa.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 1, 2011
Format: Paperback
The art and ideas are amazing in this book. It has definitely captured the attention of my son as I read it to him before bed. In fact, I have had to stop reading it before bed because he cannot stop asking questions about the things he has heard!

Dad - what's a merwitch? Why does the merwitch freeze? Who's skull is that? Where are the other bones? Etc. Etc.

The artwork is extremely well done too and the full-page spreads convey the grandeur and scale of the boats, the sea and the merwitches. Kudos!

The dialog at times is a bit stilted and strange. As is Walker's constant tears on his face. It does portray him as a "milksop" so I guess it works in context.

To the author / artist - great job! Please write a sequel or another story in this world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Morph182 on December 9, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fantastic story; great illustrations and allows the reader to get lost in all of it. Very imaginative adventure story for anyone told by a real story teller who doesn't condescend to the reader but rather pulls them along. The copy at this house traveled under the arm all over everywhere and went to school over several days even after reading it "just in case". Reader also insisted parent read it. Really good, you won't be disappointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Marilyn on November 29, 2011
Format: Paperback
Both my son and I are waiting impatiently for the sequel to this action packed page-turner filled with countless twists and turns. There has to be a sequel, but where is it? We want to know more
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Format: Paperback
This book is amazingly fun! The art is incredible - every page is gorgeous to look at. (And Alec has done a wonderful job on the colouring too)

The book sets up a fun world with interesting and likeable characters - and I can't wait to find out what the deal with the "doctor" is.

I love Aaron's first book, Spiral-Bound, but I feel he has surpassed himself, and if this trend continues, the next book is going to be really awesome.

I also really appreciated the blurb at the back talking about the creation process.
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