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Comments for Cast Away on the Letter A

Cast Away on the Letter A: 03/10/15

cover art

Cast Away on the Letter A by Fred is an English translation of the second Philemon book, Le Naufragé du "A" (1972). It was nominated as part of the 2014-15 CYBILs.

I have to think that Philemon's adventure to a strange deserted island may have had some influence on the film adaptation of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. In Judi Barrett's book, Chewandswallow's location is never stated (though it's implied that it's in a giant's stomach). For the film, to ground it more in reality and on Earth, it's placed at the "A" of the Atlantic ocean.

Now in Philemon's case, he's taken there via a message in a bottle found in his family's well. This method of travel between worlds is certainly not unique. Well travel happens quite a bit: in And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss (though there it's mostly fish), in the ABC series, Once Upon a Time (as a nod to Snow White's wishing well), in The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (as a means to reach the underworld), among others. In Philemon's case, his well reminds me of a cross between the Mulberry Street puddle and Wackyland (where the Warner Bros. Dodo lives).

Cast Away on the Letter A is an accidental fantasy, one where the main character ends up somewhere else and wants nothing more than to find his way home again. Like September in The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, Philemon must traverse the entire island (or islands, as the case may be) to find his way home.

When I first read this comic I picked up on the retro feel of the artwork but I didn't realize it was a year older than I am. Certainly stylistically it bears resemblance to the Tin Tin comics. I think now that I know more about the book's origins and it's placement in the series, I will go back and read Philemon's adventures in order.

Three stars

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