The Splen­did Baron Sub­ma­rine

Eric Bower Ag­nieszka Grochal­ska (Il­lus­tra­tor)

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Comics & Graphic Novels / Juvenile Fiction - CATHER­INE THURESON

Am­ber­jack Pub­lish­ing (NOVEM­BER) Hard­cover $15.99 (244pp) 978-1-944995-25-6

De­light­fully ab­surd, imag­i­na­tive, and fun, W.B.’S ad­ven­tures will make for great read-aloud fare.

The Splen­did Baron Sub­ma­rine is a sum­mer ad­ven­ture story full of un­ex­pected dan­ger and wacky sur­prises, and is funny from its first page to its last.

The story be­gins with Waldo, bet­ter known as W.B., find­ing him­self stuck in the cor­ner of his class­room with the dunce cap on his head, in trou­ble for telling tall tales. Ex­cept W.B. was ac­tu­ally telling the truth about his sum­mer va­ca­tion—it just sounds over the top.

Two thugs showed up at the Baron es­tate, you see, and took the fam­ily to see the vice pres­i­dent, who had been chal­lenged with re­triev­ing the lost trea­sure of Cap­tain Af­fect to pay off the coun­try’s debt. The fam­ily de­cided to head to the site of the pi­rate’s ship­wreck them­selves, in the sub­ma­rine that W.B.’S fa­ther in­vented. So their ad­ven­ture be­gan.

Ev­ery time it seems like the plot can get no more out­ra­geous, some­thing new and un­ex­pected hap­pens. Still, it’s the char­ac­ters who truly bring the story to life. W.B.‘S mother, M, is won­der­fully log­i­cal, and his fa­ther, P, is just a bit crazy. Rose is the in­ven­tor’s as­sis­tant—bright, ca­pa­ble, and fit­ting per­fectly into the fam­ily.

W.B. is the most ap­peal­ing char­ac­ter of all. He is chubby and clumsy, and has a bit of an in­fe­ri­or­ity com­plex. “The fun al­ways stops when I get my head stuck in the fire­place,” he pro­claims early on—a sen­ti­ment that sums up his per­son­al­ity quite well. He has great ad­mi­ra­tion and re­spect for his fam­ily but a fairly low opin­ion of him­self, which makes his con­tri­bu­tions to the fam­ily ad­ven­tures all the more sat­is­fy­ing.

Il­lus­tra­tions by Ag­nieszka Grochal­ska are sprin­kled through­out the book. These sim­ple ink draw­ings high­light some of the story’s fun­nier mo­ments. Draw­ings of gears serve as sec­tion breaks and add a nice touch.

The Splen­did Baron Sub­ma­rine is de­light­fully ab­surd, imag­i­na­tive, and fun—a won­der­ful book for mid­dle-school chil­dren to read on their own, and an even bet­ter book for fam­i­lies to read aloud to­gether.

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