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The Secret of the Stone Frog: 06/04/13

cover art

The Secret of the Stone Frog by David Nytra is a beautiful and lush graphic novel in the style of Windsor McCay's Little Nemo comic strip (1905-1914; 1924-7). Although most children probably won't have heard of McCay or that particular Nemo, they will recognize the continuing influence McCay's artwork has on animation and illustration.

The book opens with siblings Leah and Alan waking in an cavern, though still in their beds and night clothes. Rather than panicking, they quickly decide the sensible thing is to find their way home. They are told to stay on the path and follow the stone frogs.

Of course no visitor to fairyland ever stays on the path. Even well meaning and obedient children stray for one reason or another. They come to a home with a garden of giant bees, and a woman who bears a resemblance to both Yubaba (Spirited Away, 2001) and the Duchess (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll, 1865).

But their journey isn't just through the garden path. There's a city and a subway too — thus bringing to mind both L. Frank Baum's Oz books, and China Mieville's Un Lun Dun.

The Secret of the Stone Frog is a gem of graphic novel. It could be the introduction the classics of fantasy.

Five stars

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