Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Travels of Thelonious (The Fog Mound)

Travels of Thelonious (The Fog Mound)

Susan Schade
Illustrator:  Jon Buller 
For ages 8 to 12
Simon and Schuster, 2007   ISBN: 978-0689876851

Thelonius the chipmunk loves the old legends about how there once was a time when "human beings ruled the earth and the animals did not yet have the gift of language." Many of the animals living in the forest, including his own sister, think that the legends have no basis in truth, but Thelonius is not convinced. After all, he has his human artifact, a postcard, which has a picture of a tall building on the front. Surely the picture on the card is of a place that really existed.

Then one day Thelonius is washed out of his snug tree stump home and is carried downstream until he arrives at the most amazing place, a place he has heard about but has never seen. Thelonius finds himself walking around the streets of Ruined City, a city once inhabited by thousands of humans. Now many of the buildings have collapsed, but there is still much to see. There are also shops and homes full of human goods which are free for the taking.

Luckily for Thelonius, he is taken in by Fitzgerald, a well read porcupine who lives in a bookshop. The two become fast friends and it is Fitzgerald who figures out what Thelonius should do to get back home to the Untamed Forest. Fitzgerald and Thelonius meet a bear called Olive Bear who has managed to construct a flying machine and from her they learn all kinds of interesting things about their world. Olive Bear takes her new friends on an adventure that will change all their lives forever.

The husband and wife team who created this book have managed to produce a tale that is both wonderful to read and very entertaining to look at. They have combined text chapters with chapters drawn and written in a comic book style. Though the format changes from chapter to chapter, the story flows beautifully. With an exciting narrative and wonderful illustrations, this is the perfect book for children who are ready to read their first novel.