Alison Dare lives out an adventurous girl’s ultimate fantasy. Her mom is a famous archaeologist. Her dad is a librarian by occupation and a superhero by destiny. Her uncle is world renowned superspy. With this pedigree, she is poised to take on the world. However, to accommodate her parents’ busy schedules and give her a chance at a normal life, Alison goes to a Catholic boarding school with her best friends, Dot and Wendy. Despite this, Alison manages to get into just as much mischief as one would expect from a girl with her family tree.
The volumes are constructed with three distinct stories in each, showing their miniseries origins. These stories range from explaining her parents’ first meeting and father’s superhero origin to her exaggerated school report about her adventures during summer vacation. Some stories follow a predictable pattern while others show the chaos that can swirl around a family with such excitingly varied occupations.
The artwork for Alison Dare fits a lot into each panel. This might be overwhelming for the younger readers the series wants to embrace. The styling and detailed backgrounds give an interesting vibe that an older audience would appreciate, though for them, the stories might then seem a little immature.
The characters’ looks evoke a multitude of memes and stereotypes. The Clark Kent-esque librarian magically becomes a superhero. The skinny blonde is the adventurer while her short, chubby Asian friend is the one who knows all the facts. The superspy uncle hides behind a moustache to catch the crooks. The stories also borrow heavily from famous scenes that may have originally featured Indiana Jones and Lara Croft, which can be fun, especially for any older readers who might be familiar with those tales.
When put all together, Alison Dare lacks an originality that its premise promises. My high expectations for the series might have skewed my perceptions, but, for me, it falls a little flat. Still, the high points are high, and I really enjoyed the episode that involves the fighting nuns and forgetfulness gas. I could also see some high interest, low literacy readers getting a kick out of the series. However, the overall product is like an awkward tween who can’t quite decide how to be a grown up. You know she’s trying her hardest and sometimes it’s cute, but the strange combination of immaturity and being too adult for her age leads to a confusing stage you hope she grows out of soon.
Alison Dare: Little Miss Adventures
Alison Dare: The Heart of the Maiden
Tundra Books, 2010
Publisher Age Rating: Ages 8-11