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The ElseWhere Chronicles: A Shiny, Happy Review In Disguise
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Review by Scott Tingley, July 16, 2009

I tend to get nervous when I get cold-contacted by independent comic creators / companies looking to see if I would be interested in getting a review copy of their newest book. While I never intended this website to be a happy shiny place where every book gets a good review I do tend to stick to reviewing books that I actually like and avoid those that I think fall short of being an appropriate comic for this site – appropriate in content and in quality.

Notice the shiny happy vibe I have going here.

When the Graphic Universe people contacted me about reviewing The Elsewhere Chronicles series they were about to begin publishing the warning bells went off. I'm not a fast writer, but I am slow – I have lots of high quality books I plan to review sitting on my desk that I am pretending aren't there, I don't have time to ignore comics that are low quality or repetitive. A couple of years ago the company sent me their press packet and I don't even remember what was in it – it didn't leave much of an impression, so I was hesitant to agree to review the books. This is the summary I was sent for Elsewhere :

Follow the adventures of Rebecca, Max, Theo, and Noah as they discover a passageway to ElseWhere—an alternate world plagued by the dangerous Shadow Spies and the evil Master of Shadows. When the four friends become trapped in ElseWhere, it will take all of their wits and strength to escape their foes and find a safe way home.

Not really that original sounding, (I'm practically getting a sunburn from all of the sun-shiny happiness I am spreading) but I did not give up hope yet though since it is the execution of the idea, not the idea itself that makes for a good story.

Then I read this:

French-speaking readers already love The ElseWhere Chronicles, and now these graphic novels are available to a whole new set of English-speaking fans. Both accessible and intriguing, this series of graphic novels holds appeal for children and teens alike.

Do not insert lame French joke here (How did those “The French are so dumb for liking Jerry Lewis” jokes get started back in the 80s anyway? That man is a genius !). That a whole bunch of people already knew and loved the series piqued my interest. I then checked out the publisher's website and I thought the artwork was professional and quite nice looking.

I accepted the offer of the books by Nykko and Bannister and about halfway through book one (of three): The Shadow Door I found that I was really enjoying myself. The dialogue between the kids seems authentic, the art is nice, and there is plenty of mystery with bursts of action. I have read the first two volumes with one to go and I am pleased to recommend them (one thing I really like is that the fantasy has a science fiction rather than magic base. It sets itself apart in this small way from other comics that attempt to tell a similar story.

I liked these books and I am glad that the people at Graphic Universe took the time to tell me about it. I hope that in telling you about it I have done the book justice.

The publisher lists the series as being for grade 4-6, and I would agree with that. Giving it to your own kids if they are younger than that would be fine, but for school use I would stick to 4-6. The reading level and story complexity is more fitting for upper elementary. In the first volume the phrase “the gates of hell” is used twice, but that is in context – one of the characters is joking that a spooky basement may contain the gates of hell. It may be a problem for you or your school, it may not.

Ordering information can be found HERE .

By the way, I haven't read or seen these books yet, but their Manga Math books look intriguing.



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