The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Basil (ADVANCE)


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The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Basil (ADVANCE)


  • Words: Wiley Miller
  • Art: Wiley Miller
  • Inks: Wiley Miller
  • Colors: Wiley Miller
  • Story Title: Book One: The Impossible Flight to Helios
  • Publisher: Blue Sky Press/Scholastic, Inc.
  • Price: $14.99

A young boy longs for a life less ordinary…and receives it in abundance in this work for young readers.

Born in a dreary coastal town in Maine, Basil Pepperell laments his tragically ordinary life. That is, until the arrival of an eccentric old man piloting a floating airship outside his window. With this jovial fellow’s assistance, Basil soon finds himself on a wild adventure complete with astonishing technology, house-broken pterandons, and a floating city in the clouds. But when a twisted mad scientist hopes to turn these wonders into weapons of war, it’s up to Basil and his friends to stop the sinister plot.

The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Basil is the first children’s book from cartoonist Wiley Miller, known for his comic strip Non Sequitur. Basil began life in comic strip form before being expanded into a full prose adventure story and the results are quite entertaining. Miller has achieved that often-sought formula that many kid’s books never quite reach—a story that can enjoyed by both children and adults. Though the language is kept fairly simple, the book never talks down to its readers and remains engaging in its imaginative ideas and characters. Miller cleverly ties his floating city of Helios in with other famous lost cities and paradises of legend, lending a mythic quality to the story sure to appeal to fans of adventure fiction. He injects plenty of humor into the tale, as in the phonetically spelled German accents of the villains. And amid the childish whimsy are some surprisingly adult concepts such as vibratory weapons based on ninth-dimensional harmonics. It all creates a sense of wonder that will surely entrance kids and keep the attention of parents still in touch with their own inner child.

The book is accompanied by numerous illustrations by Miller that further aid the tone of adventure. Showing his comic strip roots, Miller’s art is amusing and exaggerated and very charming. Placing Basil, with his button-down 19th century coat and wide-eyed stare, in the midst of these exotic places and things leads to wonderful contrast and humor. Though the book is not a comic per se, it has many of the same sensibilities and appeal.

Ordinary Basil is anything but and I would recommend it to anyone with young children.

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