There is a scene in Bone: Crown of Horns that perfectly sums up what makes the Bone series so special. Thorn Harvestar, our heroine, needs to touch the Crown of Horns, but she can’t quite reach; her leg is wedged in the mouth of one very dead Kingdok, the leader of the Rat Creatures. The situation is grave: if Thorn does not touch the Crown, the Lord of the Locusts will destroy the world. So Fone Bone, our hero, grabs Thorn’s hand, shuffles his feet on the floor, and touches the Crown. Static electricity does the rest.
It’s a wonderful scene– funny, ingenious, suspenseful– in what is the best graphic novel series of the past fifteen years. Fone Bone and his cousins get lost, and find themselves stranded in a valley full of strange creatures– dragons, talking bugs, rat creatures, a giant mountain lion, and a princess and her grandmother, to name but a few. There they find themselves involved in a clash between good and evil, with all the usual accoutrements of the epic a heroic quest, during which the heroine undergoes a process of self-discovery and comes into her own but the magic of this series lies in its humbler details. Smiley Bone playing his banjo; Lucius giving Grandma Ben a flower; Fone Bone writing bad love poems for Thorn.
Such attention to detail is a tribute to Jeff Smith’s storytelling skills– others include fine artwork; crisp, compelling storylines; and funny, yet surprisingly complex, characters. Fone Bone, who resembles Snoopy, is also the romantic interest of the lovely Thorn. Grandma Ben is a mighty warrior who calls everyone “dear” and enters cow races in her spare time. Phoney Bone is a self-centered liar, but he’s also brave and intensely loyal to his cousins. Suitable for all age groups, the Bone series is a must-buy for all libraries.