Published: Bone originated as a comic book series in 1991. The volumes that I’m reading were released in 2005 and 2006.
My Rating: ***** 5/5
Bone is an adventure story about three cousins who are thrown out of their town, Boneville, into a land strange and unusual to them.
Let’s meet this imperfectly lovable cast of characters . . .
In their quest to return home, the Bone cousins become separated and briefly embark on their own little adventures, each meeting different characters along the way. Eventually, they pair up with some residents of the valley – the mysterious Granma Ben who can run 50 miles at once without breaking a sweat and who seems to know more than she lets on – and the lovely young farm girl, Thorn, on whom Fone Bone develops an adorable crush. Without revealing too much of the plot, which is better experienced than described, let me just say that in the first three volumes of Bone you will hear of tales of dragons, strange hooded masters, interpretive dreams, rat monsters, great wars, obscure maps, and on the lighter side, spring fairs, cow races, and ridiculously silly love poems. Now how could you resist a story that manages to churn out all that?
Not to mention comedy! This book had me laughing out loud! The humor is imaginative, well-timed, and memorable. The night after starting the first volume, I was laying in bed trying to go to sleep; all was quiet and peaceful – the crickets chirping in the still night air, the only sound was the hum of the air conditioner (you get the picture) and darn it if something funny from BONE didn’t pop into my head and cause me to burst into a fit of child-like giggles. As soon as I would calm myself some other little snippet would float into my head and provoke yet another eruption of giggles. My husband, who was sick with bronchitis and a terrible headache, would meagerly ask through the cold wash cloth covering his head, “What was that one about?” And I’d relate all the details of whatever little scene had caused my most recent outburst.
I don’t know, maybe I just have a childish sense of humor. However, I think that BONE is simple without being simplistic. Sure, it’s a story written for children but Jeff Smith has achieved that multi-level, Pixar-like humor that children can enjoy and find humorous on one level and adults on another. While simple, it’s also sharp and smart.
Even in the first installment, the characters are well fleshed out, each with their own unique personalities shining through. I sort of imagined Phoney Bone sounding like Vizzini from The Princess Bride (You remember him, right? Inconceivable! ). I could just imagine Phoney’s puny little self cockily marching up to Andre the Giant, meeting him at the shins, and threatening to send him back to Greeenlaand. Speaking of The Princess Bride, the rat creatures also reminded me of a cartoon version of the rodents of unusual size. And the rat creatures are super! Even these fearsome monsters have their quirky little personas, and when we get a glimpse of them when they’re not trying to be fearsome, they too are quite hilarious.
I was beginning to wonder if Granma Ben was ever going to open her eyes . . .
. . . And then she did . . .
That eye-opening moment in Volume 3 marks a turning point in the lighthearted tone of the story. We still experience the gaffes and blunders that follow Smiley and Phoney, but the tone becomes more ominous and the mystery deepens.
I’m patiently waiting for 4 – 6 to arrive in the mail. It’s available in one complete volume; however, I opted to go with the colorized editions which are only published by Scholastic in nine single volumes. It’s not the most economic choice but I think the color is worth it. Just my luck, they’ll probably publish a single colorized edition once I have the complete set!