cover image Ward’s Valley

Ward’s Valley

Bobby Curnow, illus. by Brenda Hickey. Top Shelf, $19.99 (128p) ISBN 978-1-60309-424-5

Ward has enjoyed living apart from his fellow gnomes and the rest of the animal kingdom. He serves as a scout to the Council of Hiddlebrook, regularly warning them against settling in the glen where he lives, which is riddled with trolls. Unfortunately, they do not listen, and when large swarms of animals arrive, he must convince the Council and the settlers that what appears to be a beautiful nature preserve is actually very dangerous. Leading the animals to their new homes, Marta, a gnome from Hiddlebrook, disregards Ward’s warning about the troll infestation and realizes only too late that the group is imperiled. As the trolls begin to disrupt order, Ward stumbles upon an even more enigmatic species: humans. The narrative proves an enjoyable rehashing of the archetypal miserable old man who just wants to help. Hickey’s welcoming, earth-toned art occasionally breaks into a wider range of colors, and the creators steadily balance exposition and action in panels that vary broadly in composition. At times more compelling than the central narrative is the story of the highly emotive, sympathetic animal characters and their settlement in a new, uncertain land. Ages 12–up.[em] (May) [/em]