- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: First Second (April 7, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 162672024X
- ISBN-13: 978-1626720244
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 14 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #207,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Last of the Sandwalkers Paperback – April 7, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up—New Coleopolis is a community of beetles, moths, and a few other insects. The sanctuary is protected under a palm tree. Most residents are content to live within the confines of their oasis, going to school, restaurants, museums, and other routine activities without a thought for what lies beyond. Yet there are a few independent thinkers who yearn to explore the mysterious world away from home. Lucy, in particular, is adamant about venturing out. The group of elders attempts to stop her, as they seem to already know what is out there and will do whatever it takes to keep it a secret. Eventually, Lucy and a small group head out on a grand expedition. Things go awry from the start, and the beetles will be lucky to return safely to New Coleopolis with or without any new information. Friendships and loyalties are tested to their limits as great, potentially life-altering discoveries are made. This graphic novel is reminiscent of Richard Adams's Watership Down, Brian Jacques's "Redwall" series (Philomel), and Robert C. O'Brien's Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of N.I.M.H. Though the characters are not human, they have their own unique and individual characteristics that will resonate with young readers. The black-and-white illustrations adeptly complement the narrative and infuses each protagonist with expressive emotions and personality. The text is well written, complete with scientific information and humorous puns. VERDICT This epic graphic novel adventure is recommended for fans of animal fantasies.—Carol Hirsche, Provo City Library, UT
"Hosler, a biologist, packs this graphic novel with facts about bugs, but the action hurtles forward." ―New York Times
"A tale of a new age of exploration--a story of discovery, betrayal, and revelation. Did I mention it's about bugs? Another excellent story from Jay Hosler." ―Stan Sakai, author of Usagi Yojimbo
"Last of the Sandwalkers masterfully combines storytelling with science." ―Boing Boing
"It’s a beautiful blend of adventure and science-fiction, abundant in humor (“BOOGA BOOGA!”), and with plenty of twists and turns keeps you on the edge of your seat until the very end....Last of the Sandwalkers has been one of the most enjoyable reads in recent memory." ―Bleeding Cool
"Hosler’s cartooning is no less meticulous than his writing and similarly retains a sense of animated energy and humor, engaging readers with characters that are far from human, but filled with humanity." ―Booklist
"This epic graphic novel adventure is recommended for fans of animal fantasies." ―School Library Journal
"Perfect for the bug-loving reader, this is also book to grow into, with layers of science learning opportunities (including a handful of potshots at creationism) that broaden appeal and encourage multiple readings." ―The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"A journey of discovery for a family of scientist-beetles becomes a journey of survival in Hosler’s entomological adventure, an intriguing look at life from only a few millimeters off the ground." ―Publishers Weekly
"Entomologist Hosler offers an epic adventure that delivers an astonishing amount of information in its interstices . . . the clarity of its theme and appeal of its characters carry the day." ―Kirkus Reviews
Top customer reviews
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I'm not sure what age this would be aimed at, but I think anyone with an interest in science, bugs, beetles, or just good graphic novels is going to enjoy this. The vocabulary is a bit dense, and the dialogue tends to crowd out the illustrations, but it's got plenty going to keep the reader fascinated and I think even a nerdy elementary student could get excited as the scientific explanations of the bugs abilities pull them forward through the story.
I really enjoyed this book all around and look forward to Hosler's next project.
As with most of Hosler's comics, it seeks to educate while it entertains, and making the main characters into scientific explorers helps accomplish this without being too awkward. Having Professor Bombadier stop to explain something is perfectly in character, whereas it might be a bit more jarring if these were just a bunch of everybugs. (Clan Apis did suffer a little from "why are they expositing?" issues, by contrast.) And, unsurprisingly, there's endnotes and a list of references.
I find myself thinking about this hue-mon all of the time. I wonder if it ever thought about us?
Was there room in here for thoughts about beetles?
Did it ever wonder how some glow?
Or spray liquid fire?
Or dance on water?
Or drink fog?
Maybe someday, if a hue-mon reads this journal, it will help them appreciate all of the amazing little aliens living underfoot.
Lucy may “just” be a junior faculty member at Colepolis University – and a beetle, to boot – but she’s about to change the way her people view the world. Reluctantly granted funding by the scientific ministry, Lucy’s leading a team of five scientist-explorers out into the great unknown – the vast desert that lies beyond the oasis where their coconut tree grows. Colepolis is home, and all its beetle citizens know of the world – all its elite ruling class allows them to know – is contained within its borders. That is, until Lucy breaks with years of tradition and superstition, and insists on proving that the world is more complex and wonderful than they can possibly imagine.
At her side are the senior professors, the kindly Beatrice Bombardier and the scheming and reactionary Professor Owen, secret member of the Order of the Scarabi; the pun-loving Raef, who may or may not be part robot; large and lumbering Mossy, the group’s protector; and, last but certainly not least, Ma’Dog, a storyteller long since exiled from Colepolis, who begrudgingly trades his expertise for safe passage back to his homeland. Together they must brave all sorts of threats – snakes, sandstorms, spiders, birds, bats, velvet worms, tree resin, and worst of all, backstabbing colleagues and religious fundamentalists – in order to return to Colepolis with news of all the strange and unusual creatures they found.
Jay Hosler’s LAST OF THE SANDWALKERS might be the first graphic novel I’ve read that ends with both footnotes *and* a reference list – which speaks volumes about the book. Not only is it witty, wonderfully imaginative, and highly entertaining, but Hosler – a biology professor at Juniata College – educates as well. The story is populated by all manner of grotesque yet adorable insects; the drawings are both lovely and highly informative. There’s even a field guide to the main characters! If Gil Grissom were a real person (and I was lucky enough to count him a friend), he’d totally find this stuffed in his stocking come Christmas.
(True story: before I realized that Professor Bombardier was a lady, I imagined her speaking in William Petersen’s voice. Then I switched to William Petersen speaking in falsetto.)
Lucy is the sort of hero you want to root for: smart but not infallible, she’s a clever girl who wants nothing more than see the world and suck down its knowledge like so much nectar. She’s also kind and compassionate; some of my favorite scenes involve Lucy fretting over the amber beetle’s well-being, or interacting with the emotionally fragile Raef. There’s an especially refreshing plot line about consent, which I don’t think was necessarily intended in a sexual way, but could certainly be used to teach kids about the importance of bodily consent as well.
While LAST OF THE SANDWALKERS is a great tool for getting kids interested in entomology (and teaching the importance of scientific inquiry in general), adults are sure to get a kick out of it as well. There are quite a few unexpected twists and turns that had me at the edge of my seat, and I stayed up well past my bedtime to finish. Secret societies, family drama, robots big and small, action and adventure, even a touch of romance – LAST OF THE SANDWALKERS has got it all. I won’t lie; I even got a little teary-eyed at the end. (Page 292 – that’s the spot.)
Buy it for: Little nerdlings; kids who like playing in the dirt; adults who carry spiders outside instead of squashing them outright – or are happy to just let them be.