Geronimo Stilton isn’t the only mouse having adventures! His sister Thea and five students at Mouseford Academy, where Thea teaches journalism, are up to their ears investigating, too. Nicki, Colette, Paulina, Violet, and Pamela call themselves “the Thea Sisters” and they are getting ready for a new school year and planning the school dance. Everyone is really excited to get to the school, located on Whale Island, but nervous about a lone orca that has been causing problems for ships landing on the island. Is it just a whale in trouble? Or is something more sinister at play? Either way, nothing can stop the Thea Sisters!

This graphic novel is a lot of fun. With eye-catching colors that seem to have come straight out of a crayon box—complete with robin’s egg blue and macaroni ‘n’ cheese—the story panels are attractive visually and will keep the reader turning pages, particularly kids. Each panel is packed with heavily saturated yellows, pinks, and blues and contains very little white space. Combined with simple yet detailed illustrations, these vibrantly colored panels keep the eye moving and wanting more.

The story is excellent for reluctant or struggling readers. The graphic novel flows more easily than the prose books and are much more action-packed. There’s never a dull moment, yet it still manages to include fun facts, in this case about sea life, particularly orcas. An excellent stepping stone to chapter books, it’s also great in its own right.

While this book does contain a lot of pink and is about girl mice, the action will appeal to both boys and girls. Thea Stilton is much cooler than her overly goofy brother Geronimo. She is calm under pressure and always saves the day. That being said, Thea is barely in this book. The Thea Sisters take care of everything and are extremely capable, but I felt a bit cheated that this graphic novel is the first in the Thea Stilton graphic novel series and yet she only appears once or twice. She is off investigating what appears to be penguin life. It felt like false advertising. This is how the chapter books are set up as well, and I find it bothersome. It might be better to call it the Thea Sister series.

That said, I love the Thea Sisters. They are funny, smart, and complement each other well. Not everything is perfect with them (Pamela’s driving is a little crazy and Colette has too many boys who want to take her to the dance), but they support each other and get the job done. This story was a tricky mystery with an environmental twist and a perfect choice for the introduction to the series. I found myself trying to read faster to finish it and figure out what was happening with the orca. These graphic novels are excellent for kids just learning to read or who just want a compelling story. They are quick, exciting, and full of information in an easily swallowed package. I can’t recommend them enough for libraries.

Thea Stilton, Vol. 1: The Secret of Whale Island
by Thea Stilton
ISBN: 9781597074032
Papercutz, 2013
Publisher Age Rating: 7-11

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