CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 17. . . .January 4, 2013
Meet Suri: a young, orphaned girl living not-so-secretly in a travelling caravan. Through the surreptitious cooperation of the merchants who found her, Suri evades the ever watchful eye of the caravan's owner, Leon, who is desperate to get rid of the unwanted stowaway. Yet despite her unfortunate circumstances, Suri remains resolute in pursuing her dreams of becoming a monster tamer. Forgoing her mundane duties in the bakery, Suri ekes out a living by charging children for her stories, grand tales about monsters attempting to enter the valley of Galatea through a rift in the mountains called the Monsters' Cradle.
The story opens with Suri attempting to convince a skeptical audience of her abilities as a monster tamer. After telling them about a monster and its keeper residing in the camp, Suri takes them to the monster's cage, determined to show her strength and skill in taming a raging beast. However, she finds instead a lonely canine named Byron, whom she befriends. The friendship later proves useful as Byron comes to her rescue when she faces off with a family of caitsiths - carnivorous, feline beasts that can disguise themselves as humans with the aid of magical, golden twine.
Suri's entanglement with the caitsiths leads to her abandonment. Byron was meant to be sold to the local monarch as a monster to be hunted for sport. After discovering that the "monster" had disappeared, Leon immediately packs up the caravan to avoid the prince's wrath. Despite their best efforts, the merchants are forced to leave Suri behind. Finding herself alone with a giant dog and his master, a shrewd and taciturn imp named Caglio, Suri breaks down in tears. However, her self-pity is short-lived after she finds out that Byron does not like being thought of as a monster, preferring instead to be considered as a lap dog. Determining that the land of the giants would make a better home for Byron, the trio set off for the Monsters Cradle. The story ends in a cliffhanger, as unbeknownst to them, the caitsiths are in pursuit along with a prince who is determined to hunt a monster.
In The Golden Twine, Jo Rioux makes her debut as both author and illustrator. The Golden Twine features delicate and expressive illustrations drawn in a cool colour palette of blues and purples, providing a subdued and mysterious background for this fast-paced story. Rioux's crisp, minimalist lines, combined with shots of pink and orange, succinctly convey Suri's fresh, dewy-eyed hopes and aspirations. From beginning to end, Rioux demonstrates that she is as talented a storyteller as she is an illustrator by deftly capturing readers' attention with an action-packed plot line that delivers mystery, magic, dangerous creatures and strange new lands.
The Golden Twine, a graphic novel, is highly recommended for young, reluctant readers.
Jenice Batiforra is a Branch Head Librarian at the Winnipeg Public Library in Winnipeg, MB.