When Dalen and his buddy Gole lose the annual Junior Jet Race because of a surprise, come-from-behind win by Tunax, they’re suspicious. Well, Gole is, anyway. Dalen refuses to believe that Tunax did anything wrong. But when they stumble over a mysterious portal that leads to a strange land called “Earth,” even Dalen has to admit that something…fishy…is going on.
Dalen & Gole: Scandal in Port Angus
Ages 8-12; Grades 3-6
Orca Book Publishers, October 2011, ISBN 978-1-55469-800-4
126 pages, $9.95
Deas is the illustrator for Orca’s Graphic Guides Adventure series which mix exciting adventure fiction with kid-friendly nonfiction instruction. Here he sticks purely to the fantastic, but the result is no less enjoyable. This is because Deas knows how to include the elements that science fiction fans want. His graphic novel opens with a race through a strange desert world, which will inevitably remind readers of Star Wars Episode One. That familiarity is likely to attract readers, assuming the eye-catching cover doesn’t catch their eye first. If they enjoy the beginning, readers will stay for the characters and the enjoyable craziness of the adventure. Dalen is just the type of being who believes there is good in everyone and his attempts to befriend the snobby and clearly up to no good Tunax will make kids chuckle. Gole is more down-to-Earth (or Budap, in this case) and he helps keep Dalen on track. The Earthgirl they meet, Rachel, is overshadowed slightly by the two aliens, but her worries about the fate of her town relate well with today’s economic times.
That timeliness, as well as the very minimal environmental message and the theme of strangers-in-a-strange-land, make this a fun choice for schools to add to reading lists. The richly colored art and the vividly detailed scenes blend well with the Saturday morning cartoon type action sequences, resulting in a fun, fast read which will appeal both to reluctant readers and to readers who love science fiction and/or action and adventure stories. There is very little violence and no other content issues which would keep this from being appropriate for an elementary school setting or a children’s graphic novel collection, which is good since this one is sure to be a hit.
This review is based on a complimentary copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © Orca Book Publishers.