Leo Geo and His Miraculous Journey Through the Center of the Earth

Jon Chad. Roaring Brook/First Second, $15.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-59643-661-9
Chad’s inventive vertical artwork acts as a spoonful of sugar to the medicine of geology lessons. The featureless protagonist, an enthusiastic scientist named Leo, sets off on a journey to the center of the Earth through the book’s tall pages, and readers are encouraged to turn the book vertically to follow his trek downward. Leo spouts real science facts, but also encounters fantastic creatures in the Earth’s mantle at temperatures where nothing ought to be able to survive. Leo uses some big scientific words and even a few wicked-looking math equations, although he is careful to clarify most of what he says for younger audiences. Chad’s layouts eliminate panel borders in an appealing experiment that is rarely (if ever) confusing, and the busy black and white marginalia has enough detail work for repeated readings. Chad’s choice to leave Leo featureless lends the book a more game-like quality, although he is more of an established character than an avatar. Budding scientists should find the geology fascinating, and the magic dagger fighting with monsters gives it a good story to go along with the facts. Ages 7–up. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 11/07/2011
Release date: 03/01/2012
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