Overview

Ordinary Basil: Attack of the Volcano Monkeys

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Ordinary Basil: Attack of the Volcano Monkeys

Credits

  • Words: Wiley Miller
  • Art: Wiley Miller
  • Inks: Wiley Miller
  • Colors: Wiley Miller
  • Story Title: Book Two: Attack of the Volcano Monkeys
  • Publisher: Blue Sky Press/Scholastic, Inc.
  • Price: $14.99

As all comics fans know, everything’s better with monkeys. Cartoonist Wiley Miller’s 12 year old hero returns for another adventure.

Young Basil Pepperell has seen the extraordinary and now he wants more. Not content with life in his family’s dreary lighthouse, Basil embarks on another journey with his friend Louise and her pet pteranodon, Beatrice. This time their destination is Monkey Island, a jungle isle that is home to super-intelligent apes, giant owls, and an artificial volcano. But there is unrest among the monkeys, as well as an old nemesis lurking in the most unexpected place.

Wiley Miller, creator of the comic strip Non Sequitur, revisits his pre-pubescent hero in his latest children’s book, The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Basil: Attack of the Volcano Monkeys (and really, with a title like that, how can you not be slightly curious?). While not quite as wildly inventive as Book One, The Impossible Flight to Helios, Volcano Monkeys is another enjoyable romp through a world of pulp adventure seen through the eyes of a child. Talking monkeys and manmade islands, though well-worn sci-fi ideas, are always good for a little fun and Miller keeps the pace fast and furious and the language easy for young readers to follow.

Despite this, he also once again sprinkles surprisingly grown-up concepts into his tale. Basil and Louise are confronted by revolution, dictatorship vs. democracy, and false idols. Miller injects a strong sense of morals into his characters, setting an example of honor, repaying debts, and showing compassion to one’s enemies. Heady stuff for a book about monkeys and mad scientists but the result is a story that engages the imagination of both young and old. The humor has a few winks for the older set as well, as in the naming of Basil’s monkey friend, Rathbone.

The book is accompanied by Miller’s loose and stylized illustrations that add to the whimsical tone. Circular submarines extend ladders at jaunty angles. Cute, button-eyed children match wits with leering madmen, stalking owls, and world-weary chimps. Pteranodons soar through the skies. Miller’s art style is a good complement to the fanciful story.

Wiley Miller and Scholastic have another winner on their hands that will please young readers and their parents alike.

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