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The Secret of the Stone Frog: A TOON Graphic (The Leah and Alan Adventures) Hardcover – September 11, 2012
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From School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-Leah and her younger brother, Alan, awake to find their beds relocated to the middle of a lush forest. They soon come across a stone frog that guides them toward their home. It's not easy. Their long, strange trip is full of bees, fanciful lions, and a subway ride with dressed-up sea life-all presented in out-of-whack proportions. After they make a narrow escape when an entire town-buildings, streets, and all-comes alive, the story ends with our hero and heroine back in their beds as a new day begins. The Alice in Wonderland comparisons are clear, as the children encounter unusual characters and bizarre situations in their travels. It's a world long on enchantment but rather short on plot. The black-and-white pen-and-ink illustrations are astounding in their intricacy. Tiny pen strokes amass to create rich landscapes and characters. The plot may come second, but the journey here is the whole point. A surprising, and visually stunning, trip.-Travis Jonker, Wayland Union Schools, MIα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
The intricate flowerings and soulfully etched forest backgrounds of the art make the black-and-white pages sing as though they were drawn in a rainbow of colors...To stick the landing, Nytra’s serene ending manages to be worthy of its glorious beginning. His cavalcade of dreamscapes is a rich and beguiling experience that deserves multiple immersions.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Winsor McKay was a comics pioneer whose early experimentation with the form nearly predated the form itself. McKay’s spirit, along with his dream-inspired imagery, lives on through Nytra, whose remarkable debut taps into the same unearthly environment with a similarly enchanting effect. . . .The extraordinarily delicate and fine-lined art incorporates touches of manga aesthetic so that, like the story itself, it merges timeless narrative elements to craft something wonderfully innovative. TOON took a chance on a brand-new talent to create the first of their ever-so-slightly more mature graphic novel line and it’s paid off with a smashing success.
—Booklist (starred review)
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THE SECRET OF THE STONE FROG is written in a whimsical style that is strongly reminiscent of Lewis Carroll's ALICE IN WONDERLAND and THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS. For instance, the female beekeeper bares and uncanny resemblance to the Queen of Hearts (just look at that giant head). The story is interesting enough and the beautifully rendered illustrations are sure to keep children entertained.
However, there are two major flaws with THE SECRET OF THE STONE FROG. The first is that it is so derivative of other children's stories, there is very little originality in the story itself. The situations and characters are different, yet they evoke memories of other stories you read as a child once upon a time. Derivation isn't a bad thing, but the excess amount of it in the story spoils what originality is found here.
The second major flaw is that neither Leah or Alan learn anything on their journey. For instance, in ALICE IN WONDERLAND, Alice came into her own and was able to stand against the Queen of Hearts and her soldiers. Nothing of the sort happens to Leah and Alan. In fact, just before the end of the siblings journey they find themselves running away from chaos they are partially responsible by not having listened to the instructions given them at the beginning of their journey. By the time the siblings come to the end of their journey, other than the apparent experiences they have shared, they are no different than when they began.
Overall, THE SECRET OF THE STONE FROG is a gorgeously illustrated children's graphic novel. The book will entertain young readers, but the extreme derivation smothers the original elements of the tale and the lack of any moral or character development prevents the book from being highly recommended.
Leah and Alan wake up in an enchanted forest. They have no idea how to get home until a Stone Frog tells them that the path home is behind him. From there Leah and Alan go on a series of adventures on their way through strange lands. Will they ever make it home?
This is a well done fantasy graphic novel for children. The story is fairly simple as is the illustration of the characters. However, the backgrounds are incredibly detailed and beautifully drawn. This was a fun and quick read and I enjoyed it.
This book feels like a classic and in a way a it is reminiscent of one. You basically have two kids who are whisked away to an enchanted land and they have to struggle through a series of trials to make their way home. However, the book is unique because of the illustration and because it has a very Japanese feel to it. There are giant toads, people with huge heads, and structures that turn into animals...the whole thing reminded me a lot of a Hayao Miyazaki movie.
The illustration is absolutely stunning. Leah and Alan are illustrated in a way that is simple, yet conveys their actions and emotions well. The background and lands they travel through are incredibly intricate and just stunning. Everything is in black and white and that fits the story really well.
This is another graphic novel that I think kids and adults will both enjoy. The story is very short and straight-forward so adults will breeze through this quickly. However, the wonder and inventiveness of the surroundings will appeal to everyone.
Overall an excellent graphic novel for all ages. I enjoyed the story and the crazy lands these kids journey through. I loved the way the graphic novel was illustrated. The story is very short and simple, but I think adults will enjoy it anyway Definitely recommended to fans of fantasy graphic novels.