The Fog Mound: A Review
Take your paws off me, you darned dirty….Chipmunk!
Article by Scott Tingley, August 22, 2007
I have been staring at The Fog Mound: Travels of Thelonius and The Fog Mound: Faradawn for a few weeks now trying to come up with a really good beginning for a review. I finally have to admit that I've got nothing. Thing is, I've got a pretty good middle and a very fine ending, but no beginning. So, I've decided to do what any self respecting writer would do when finding themselves in this predicament. I'm going to stea..um..borrow someone else's work.
So, from Tracey Edmund's very own Big All-Ages List found on this very site:
Thelonius is a chipmunk living in a post-apocalyptic, humanless world. When he is swept away from his woodland home by a rainstorm and finds himself in a crumbling human city, adventure abounds. Buller's illustrations/comics are cute and sweet, and it's never frightening. The rather dire environmental warning is made palatable by the cute animals and everything seems to be alright for them in the end. The art, while it is definitely cartoony, is marvelously expressive and detailed, and the blue tones are a great compliment to the nice line work. The story is incredibly original. Travels of Thelonius is highly recommended for libraries and classrooms. There is a miniature naked man near the end (it kind of makes sense in the story) but he's only shown from behind and it's not offensive at all. With Travels of Thelonius Schade and Buller have managed to pull off an almost impossible feat – it will be enjoyed by kids who don't like to read as much as by those who do.
The Fog Mound books (Tracey reviewed the first volume, while I am talking about 1+2) were something that I wasn't sure I was going to be able to get into. The art is really nice, but the opening comic sequence didn't really grab me. That turned out to be an okay thing. See, this series is a “hybrid”, a mix of comic storytelling and prose. Some users of this style switch back and forth, seemingly at random, but creators Schade and Buller alternate chapters with the comic and prose style. The funny thing about it is that I found myself getting annoyed when the prose chapters were over and I had to read the comic section again. This is no criticism on the quality of storytelling in the comic sections; actually, they do such a nice job of setting up the prose that I didn't want the prose to end. Confused? Me too. Remember: comic stuff good, makes wordy stuff even better.
The book's publisher, Aladdin Paperbacks has listed the book for ages 8-12, and I think that is about right. The tiny naked bum will make the young readers giggle, and (like Tracey said) is not offensive at all. If you let your children read David Shannon's David books, then this shouldn't be a problem at all. I also think the environmental angle is timely and important.
Super evolved talking animals living on a planet destroyed by humans sounds very “Planet of the Apes”, but the sole human is not caged and poked at in The Fog Mound, so no worries.
Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, May 2006 Hardcover ($14.95): amazon.com paperback edition ($7.99): amazon.com