cover image Maddy Kettle: The Adventure of the Thimblewitch

Maddy Kettle: The Adventure of the Thimblewitch

Eric Orchard. Top Shelf (Diamond, dist.), $14.95 paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-60309-072-8

Canadian artist Orchard tosses readers headlong into the world of his debut graphic novel, a gorgeously illustrated if narratively quirky quest starring 11-year-old Maddy Kettle, whose parents have been turned into kangaroo rats. The story opens with the family on a train on the run after “that terrible night” when the Thimblewitch and a horde of spider goblins descended on her parents’ bookstore for reasons unknown. “I looked everywhere for mom and dad. I finally found them in the pantry,” Maddy remembers as Orchard shows the two rodents poking out of a bag of flour. After the spider goblins return to kidnap Maddy’s parents and her magical spadefoot toad, Maddy’s rescue efforts bring her into league with semi-bumbling “cloud cartographers” Silvio the raccoon and Harry the bear. Magic and misunderstandings ensue, but while Orchard’s delicately inked, richly colored artwork conjures a fascinating and creepy setting of goblins, witches, and scarecrow armies, Maddy’s successes come too easily, and a general lack of context may leave readers feeling like they don’t really know Maddy or her world very well by book’s end. All ages. (Aug.)