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Explorer: The Lost Islands

Review

Explorer: The Lost Islands

The colors pop and the artwork sings throughout the seven stories featured in EXPLORER: THE LOST ISLANDS, the second anthology from editor Kazu Kibuishi (the creator behind the wonderful Amulet series). Kibuishi’s AMULET is known for these eye-grabbing splashes, which take full advantage of the spectrum of four-color creativity that comics allows, so it’s no surprise to see them on display here as well.

"I recommend it for kids and for anyone appreciative of the colorful creativity of this brilliant team of writers and artists."

The anthology opens with Jake Parker’s “Rabbit Island,” a parable about laziness overtaking a teamwork-filled island of bunnies. Parker is the creator behind the kid-friendly MISSILE MOUSE, and his story shares some of the fun and innocence found in those books.

From there we launch right into the spooky and somewhat eerie “The Mask Dance” from Chrystin Garland. A girl searching for her father is offered a free ferry ride to a bizarre island, where she is told her father awaits. But there is something far more sinister in store.

Jason Caffoe’s delightful “Carapace” is next. A boy lost on an island finds adventure and friendship with a crab spirit and learns how to fend for himself in an inhospitable environment.

“Desert Island Playlist,” by Dave Roman and Raina Telgemeier, is a standout tale of three females --- a baby, a teenager, and an old woman --- all trapped on a desert island with just three songs each and a book they love to keep them entertained. But as they get to know each other better, they discover some strange connections between them all.

Michel Gagné’s “Loah” is simply gorgeous. Lush aquamarine colors fill seas inhabited by orange, brown, and red fish in a sparsely worded tale. “Radio Adrift” by Katie Shanahan and Steven Shanahan is the story of a mage in training who is trying to hatch a pixie egg. But she needs a certain sound to do it, and that means she needs the guy on the radio to keep talking --- except the station is about to drift away.

The final story is Kibuishi’s own “The Fishermen,” and it’s as color-filled and splendidly engaging as the rest of the book. A captain obsessed with finding a giant fish puts his own life and that of his crew at risk. When they find an uncharted island, they don’t realize the grave danger they’re in --- but a fisherman and his young grandson do.

All of these stories function as parables in a way, but even more, they’re a solid mix of fun and adventure often told with an eerie twist. I recommend it for kids and for anyone appreciative of the colorful creativity of this brilliant team of writers and artists.  

Reviewed by John Hogan on November 1, 2013

Explorer: The Lost Islands
by Kazu Kibuishi, Raina Telgemeier, Dave Roman, and Jake Parker

  • Publication Date: October 15, 2013
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
  • ISBN-10: 141970883X
  • ISBN-13: 9781419708831