Title: Into the Volcano
Author: Don Wood
ISBN: 9780439726719
Pages: 175 pages
Publisher/Date: The Blue Sky Press, c2008.

We love Don and Audrey Wood as a children’s picture book team at my library. The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear is one of my personal favorites (just look at the picture of the strawberry wearing a disguise and try not to smile), and a coworkers was absolutely enthralled by the illustrations in Piggies when it was released. So when I saw Don Wood had done a graphic novel on a recommended reading list, I was anxious to get my hands on it, and rightly so.

The novel tells the story of Sumo and Duffy Pugg who are pulled out of class and sent to live with their cousin, Mr. Come-And-Go to visit their Aunt Lulu for ten days on an island. Sumo is not happy about this idea, and he gets even more concerned when he finds out that the island houses and active volcano that his aunt, cousin, and their companions are anxious to investigate. Things take a turn for the worse when their boat is hit by hot lava and they crash inside a cavern. But the volcano might hold more than just lava.

The back material says that Don Wood worked on this book for five years, and it shows! The illustrations are absolutely wonderful. Hold the book closed and look at the side of the book where the pages show, and you can just see the rainbow of colors that wait to meet you. Each of the 22 chapters have a different color behind the panels, setting them apart. The colors are bright, brillant, and bold. One of my favorite panels is when they first go to examine the volcano on page 46. There is a comic book quality to some of the panels, like when a large shot of water washes over the group and the page explodes with “KOOOOMBLOAAR!” on page 65. Finally, the boys enter an area filled with toxic fumes, and the sequence on pages 95-96 provide just enough detail to discern what is happening through the pale green tinged haze that fills the pictures. This is definitely for fans who have graduated from Little Mouse, as the plot is complex and some parts (like when people go missing) are quite scary for younger readers. The science of volcanic islands are explained very nicely, and might be good for current events as recently there was a news story about someone falling into a volcano.