From School Library Journal
Gr 3 Up–In the history of comics it is rare to find a creator so devoted to and so invested in his characters as Barks. In 24 years of writing and illustrating Donald Duck comics (1942-1966), he produced more than 500 stories on more than 6000 pages. “The Old Castle's Secret” is the third in a multivolume series celebrating Barks's prolific and popular run with the Disney character. Aside from the titular story, this volume contains 19 more, ranging in length from one to 30 pages. The plots are similar–Donald's big mouth gets him into trouble and his three nephews bail him out–but the formula never gets tired. The subtle characterizations take center stage, teaching readers more about the characters with each new adventure. Barks's artwork serves the stories well, and he was ahead of his time in his ability to portray movement using the comics format (he started as an animator) and emotion despite the limitations of duck anatomy. In addition to the comics themselves, the volume contains commentary for all of the stories from a variety of experts and a biography of Barks at the end. Fantagraphics gets high marks for presentation as well, with the attractive cover art sporting a smooth-to-the-touch surface and glossy lettering. At least one book from this set should be considered essential to every comics collection, and more as budgets allow.–J. M. Poole, Webster Public Library, NYα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
The applause-worthy effort to publish the entirety of Barks’ duck oeuvre continues in this third book, which covers his 1948 output and, when all is said and done, will be the sixth volume, chronologically speaking. The two longer anchor stories are “The Old Castle’s Secret,” a terrific ghost mystery set in an old Scottish castle, and “The Sheriff of Bullet Valley,” which sends Donald on a Wild West caper of cattle rustlin’ and outlaw bustin’. Oodles of shorter pieces provide more evidence yet that this series is an essential addition to any serious (or just plain fun) comics collection. Grades 2-6. --Ian Chipman