In his first adventure, Edison Beaker discovered the fantastical and frightening realm of Underwhere, where his uncle and, long ago, his father, battle night creatures. With his little sister Tess (Tesla), her hamster Scuttlebutt, and a lost creature named Knox, he successfully closed the Night Door, preventing the monsters from overrunning the upper world. But the adventure isn’t over yet…
This time the story starts with Knox, still searching for where she belongs, overhearing a conversation with the evil Baron Umbra that tells her Edison Beaker is in danger! Back in Edison’s world, his uncle says he’s not ready to return Underwhere and his father is gone, even if he thinks he has clues to his whereabouts. When Edison’s grandmother has an “episode,” she leaves him a clue to strange things going on in the Underwhere. Then, after being attacked by Baron Umbra, Edison knows he has more work to do. Along with Knox and Tess, he returns to Underwhere. They meet an underling named Smudge, who might be a friend or a spy, and learn that they must all work together to complete their quest and keep Baron Umbra from taking over the lost city of Pharos.
Cammuso’s distinctive cartoons show old fashioned Disney-style cartoon characters with big noses, large eyes, and lumpy hair. This galley was in black and white, but the finished book will be in color. Edison and Tesla have red hair, Edison has skinny, stick-like legs and arms, while Knox has pink skin and white hair. The monsters they face, ranging from one-eyed black globs to dragons, will give readers a little thrill without being too frightening. Knox’s mistrustful nature is shown in her squinting eyes and aggressive posture, while Edison just wants everyone to be okay. Tess is as cute and pudgy as her hamster, and as trusting as Knox is suspicious.
Cammuso uses familiar tropes: the “chosen one,” the aggressive “alien” warrior, and an evil overlord with minions, but flips them around to make a story that’s both exciting and unique. Edison and his friends and family must all work together to save Pharos, and it’s the most unlikely of creatures who makes the final sacrifice to save the day. Sometimes Knox’s suspicions are justified, and she has to make difficult decisions about who her family is, despite appearances.
Kids who aren’t ready for the more intense elements of popular fantasy series like Kibuishi’s Amulet or Smith’s Bone will love this lighter series. It’s got monsters, quests, mysteries, and magic, but nothing too frightening. The stakes are clearly high, but readers can be comfortably assured that the main characters won’t be permanently hurt or killed. The themes of responsibility, courage, and resisting prejudice based on appearances will make this a popular choice with educators and caregivers as well.
Edison Beaker, Creature Seeker: The Lost City
By Frank Cammuso
Publisher Age Rating: 8-12 years