1935179837.01._SX450_SY635_SCLZZZZZZZPhilemon returns in another absurd adventure. In his first story, Cast Away on the Letter A, he finds himself on the crazy islands of the letters that span the map—the “A” of the Atlantic Ocean, to be precise. Now he’s worried about the friends he left behind, and his father is out of all patience with his daydreaming teenage son.

Philemon’s father isn’t too happy when Uncle Felix shows up—he’ll just encourage Philemon in his wild fantasies! But to Philemon’s delight, Uncle Felix knows just what he’s talking about and even has a plan for Philemon to rescue the old well-digger Mr. Bartholomew, who helped him escape from the letter A. It will be a dangerous journey though…and soon Philemon is back in the weird and sometimes frightening absurdist world of the letter islands, this time on the letter “N.” There he encounters a strange community of flying folks and braves the dreaded wild piano. Will Philemon make it back home, with or without Mr. Bartholomew?

The art varies little from the first book. Lines look careless and quickly drawn and there is minimal detail, but each panel moves the eye quickly to the next moment of action or dialogue. Fred’s fertile imagination provides many memorable pictures, from the zebra prison to the strange butterfly people and the wild piano itself. The color palette shifts from deep blues and greens as Philemon struggles through the ocean to the rich golds of the court and back to the everyday browns of his normal life.

Toon includes a plethora of accompanying information and detail. The endpages are detailed maps, showing exactly where Philemon’s adventures occur. There is a “Meet Philemon” spread to get new readers up to speed with Philemon’s adventures and cast of characters. The back matter includes a brief biography of Fred (Frederic Othon Aristides), and explains various references further from the parts of the story drawn from Alice in Wonderland and Gulliver’s Travels to historic details like Roman arenas and the French Revolution. There is also a section for parents and teachers to help children read deeper in the text and graphics.

Like the first volume, this is not one that will fly off your shelves, but it’s an interesting series and fans of classic European comics or more introspective readers will enjoy the mix of absurdity and allusion.

The Wild Piano, volume 2
by Fred
ISBN: 9781935179832
TOON Books, 2015
Publisher Age Rating: 8-12 years

  • Jennifer

    | She/Her Youth Services Librarian, Matheson Memorial Library


    Jennifer Wharton is the Youth Services Librarian at Matheson Memorial Library in Elkhorn, Wisconsin where she maintains the juvenile and young adult graphic novel collections and was responsible for creating the library’s adult graphic novel collection. She is constantly looking for great new comics for kids and teens and new ways to incorporate graphic storytelling in programming. Jennifer blogs for preschool through middle grade at JeanLittleLibrary and has an MLS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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