Review: ‘Compass South’
The worst part of this book? That I already finished. After all, when I first noticed it was 224 pages, I thought, even in comic form this might keep me busy for a little while—but before I knew it the book was done and I wanted more! The good news? There are three more planned in this series.
By Hope Larson. Rebecca Mock
Farrar, Straus and Giroux. June 28th 2016. ISBN 9780374300432HC, $17.99. 224pp.
Grades 5 and up
Twelve-year-old twins Alex and Cleo are left to fend for themselves. Their mother died in their infancy, and they presume their father is dead, for he has not returned from his trip to earn money for their family. They are left with only the gifts their mother bequeathed them, a watch and a knife. After a run-in with the police, the twins see an ad in the newspaper. A father is looking for his red-headed twin sons. Figuring they could pass as these missing boys and make money off of this man, they set out for California to play the con.
On the way, the twins meet up with another set of twins who had the same idea. They fight and the pairs of twins get separated. The mixed-up sets have their own separate adventures as they attempt to reunite. But unbeknownst to them, they are being chased for Alex and Cleo’s inheritance.
This fast-paced adventure has many twists and turns and surprises in store for readers. Though historical fiction is often a hard sell, young readers will thoroughly enjoy the details of the Victorian era embedded in the artwork. And though I’m not an expert in the Victorian era, I’ve read enough of this time period to feel like it was [mostly*] accurate and very well researched. Readers can go through this story multiple times, once or twice to read the story, and another few reads to savor the detailed artwork, which really makes the era and the adventure come alive.
Read the adventure and when you get to the end, re-read while you eagerly wait for the next installment.
* I only write mostly because I’m not an expert – the accuracy here is my layman’s assessment. (Hope Larson talked about her research in a recent interview at GC4K.)
This review is based on a complimentary copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
About Esther Keller
Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. She also curates the Graphic Novel collection for the NYC DOE Citywide Digital Library. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.
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