Lee Nordling, one of the creators of the Three-Story Books, teams up with another creator to bring young readers a new imaginative, wordless series.

The story begins with a row of children marching past their lockers. Belinda is at the lead, showing all her friendly confidence. She stops and goes back to collect her friend, Barbara, who is shy and not feeling like participating. Once they all arrive in the gym, the game begins. It’s musical chairs: the teacher starts the cd player, and they start marching around the chairs… but what’s this? Everything is changing! Soon they’re marching across a surrealistic landscape, where the path twists and turns and the chairs are giant. The musical notes crash down and the floor swells like an ocean. Two of the kids are determined to win at any cost, even if it means cheating. Belinda and Barbara are more focused on helping each other out, though. But as the game gets more dangerous, who will be left standing, or rather, sitting?

At the front of the book, dark blue endpapers show the kids running through the hills, and again through the same maze at the back, this time captioned with their names and little hints about their characters. The pace of the story is slow, with plenty of time for readers to observe each subtle change in the characters’ faces as they react to the transformed landscape and compete with, and against, each other. Wild colors splash across the page, with the floor turning from rich purple to vibrant, textured orange and the music notes swelling like giant, gooey balloons in shades ranging from turquoise to red. The cast of children is diverse, with two black girls in the main roles, and a variety of body types, races, and genders represented.

While kids not familiar with musical chairs will need some context, this is a great book to teach sequencing, prediction, and some social skills as well. As a fun, stand-alone read I find it a little lacking, as there isn’t much plot. It reminds me of those old Walt Disney cartoons that illustrated musical numbers, and the sudden transformation of the gym into a wildly gyrating landscape is actually a little creepy, if you think about it. However, kids are sure to get a laugh out of the comeuppance visited upon the cheaters and teachers are sure to find an audience for a comic-themed lesson with this title.

Game for Adventure: Belinda the Unbeatable
by Lee Nordling
Art by Scott Roberts
ISBN: 9781512454130
Lerner Graphic Universe, 2017
Publisher Age Rating: Grades K-3

  • Jennifer

    | She/Her Youth Services Librarian, Matheson Memorial Library

    Reviewer

    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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