Smith, J. (2010). Bone: The Complete Cartoon Epic in One Volume. Cartoon Books. ISBN: 9781888963144
Annotation: When cousins Fone, Phoney and Smiley Bone are run out of Boneville, they wind up in a strange valley, helping new friends in an epic battle between good and evil.
Reaction: So let’s talk about Bone. I’d seen various volumes at libraries since I was in high school, but it never interested me, at first, because it looked too cartoony, and then, because I never saw the first volume and didn’t want to get involved in a long series. Spring 2012, the first volume was required reading for my Graphic Novels class, and I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed it.
As a part of my post summer semester reading, which is mostly still sitting on my Library Books bookshelf as I went a little crazy and brought home about 20 more books than I could read in the week between classes, I checked out the all-in-one-volume from the library so I could just power through the entire series. I’m glad I did. It was fantastic and reading it all in one volume was definitely the way to do it. Each separate volume only took an hour or so to read, so it was nice just being able to segue right into the next volume.
The first couple of volumes are pretty light and fluffy fun with the Bone cousins getting in and out of trouble and the reader getting to know all the characters. During the Graphic Novels class discussion, people remarked that the series became darker the farther along it progressed, indicating that it might not be good for younger readers because of this. While the story does become darker and deal with war and death and the epic battle between good and evil, I don’t think it ever gets so dark that 10-12 year olds couldn’t read it. As I was telling my husband, it certainly isn’t any darker than the later Harry Potter books, and it’s every bit as exciting. By the end of the story, I was emotionally invested in all the characters, even Phoney Bone, who is awful in the beginning.
Smith does a great job of giving all of his characters unique personalities and allows all of them to learn and grow throughout the story. His art is wonderful, and I enjoy the cartoony Bones set against the much more realistic Valley and it’s residents. He does a great job of conveying expression with just a few changes in the eyes and eyebrows, and his backgrounds are so detailed. The all in one volume is in black and white, while the individual volumes are now being printed in color. I missed having the color, but the ease of not having to wrangle nine volumes was totally worth it.
I would certainly recommend this to readers of all ages, particularly reluctant readers, as each volume is fast and entertaining, and the story quickly draws in the reader. It’s a fun adventure, epic fantasy and would certainly appeal to readers with many different tastes.