________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 40. . . .June 18, 2010


Alison Dare, little Miss Adventures.

J. Torres. Illustrated by J. Bone.
Toronto, ON: Tundra, 2010.
90 pp., pbk., $12.99.
ISBN 978-0-88776-934-4.

Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Ruth McMahon.

** /4



Later that night.

Wendy: Alison? What are you doing? Tell me you’re not sneaking out tonight…

Alison: I’m not going out… I’m letting something in!

Dot: GASP! Locusts! The locusts are back! Alison: Relax it’s not a locust. It’s a message from my dad.

“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated so what movie do you want to see this Saturday? Love Dad.”

Wendy: Hee-hee he quoted Mark Twain…

Dot: Who?

Wendy: You know “Tom Sawyer” and “Huckleberry Finn.”

Dot: Oh… I don’t like pie…

Alison: There, a quick reply and it’s back to bed for everyone.

Dot: What did you write?

Alison: Oh, come on, let a girl keep a secret…

This collection of three stories about Alison Dare are realized in graphic novel, or comic book, style. Alison is the daughter of a famous archaeologist mother and a super hero father. In the opening story, Alison finds a Genie lamp. She first wishes to have her two best friends, Wendy and Dot, join her in Arabia. This wish leads to a series of adventures which end with Alison’s using her third wish to ask for everything to return to the way it was before she found the lamp. In the second “Miss Adventure,” Alison’s father, the Blue Scarab, is presumed dead after his encounter with Auntie Freeze. The announcement of this news is premature and – well – all’s well that ends well. In the third installment, Alison is involved in a story of international intrigue involving her mother’s archaeological treasures.

    Indiana Jones meets Archie with a sprinkle of Scooby Doo would be the best way to describe this collection. There are many pop and classic culture references. Some of the references are presented in a way that the reader would understand e.g. the Mark Twain reference from the excerpt. The allusion to Churchill’s reference to Russia (1939), “I am how you zay, a riddle wrapped in an enigma contained in a conundrum,” would probably elude most readers. There are lots of plays on words, such as the location of her first adventure in the “Sultanate of Shahrazad within the arid region of Es-Sindibad just outside the ancient city of Ala-ed-din” and the confusion over her name “Ali – son.” Some readers will enjoy these references, but, for most, it will be beyond their literary and Saturday afternoon matinee movie knowledge.

     internal artThe Tundra media release and website share the following information about the title: “Unfortunately, her parents have locked her away at the prestigious St. Joan's Academy for Girls, hoping that this would lead to a more ‘normal’ life for their daughter.” The website goes on to say: “But despite all the strict rules at the school, Alison and her best pals - Wendy and Dot - somehow manage to find themselves involved in adventures that rival those of Alison's globetrotting, planet-saving relatives. I did not find any references in the novel to her parents’ locking her away in a prestigious school. The only mention made in the book of St. Joan’s Academy for Girls is in an illustration in the second adventure (on page 31) that has the following letters showing on a sign outside of the school: OAN’S / DEMY / IRLS. A couple illustrations show nuns in full habit. I found it bewildering that there was more information in the media releases than the book, itself. I was also baffled by the comments about the strict rules at school when my 11-year-old daughter (graphic novel and comic book fan) and I could find no reference to this in the text.

     My daughter and I enjoyed the female heroine, and she thought it was a great collection. We both thought that it might be hard to sell with its $13.00 price tag. It is a quick romp with not a lot of substance. It is a reprint of a 2002 title. In spite of my daughter’s stamp of approval, I don’t feel that this title is a good way for libraries to spend their graphic novel dollars.

Recommended with reservations.

Ruth McMahon is a professional children’s librarian storyteller and co-chair of the Rocky Mountain Children’s Choice Book Award, and the mother of two elementary school aged children.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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