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A 40-year-old tape, a talking squirrel, and a mystery

Greg Ruth’s fantastic young readers’ adventure “The Lost Boy.” Illustrates BOOKS-FANTASY (category e), by Dan Kois (c) 2013, Slate. Moved Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. (MUST CREDIT: Illustration by Greg Ruth.)

Greg Ruth’s fantastic young readers’ adventure “The Lost Boy.” Illustrates BOOKS-FANTASY (category e), by Dan Kois (c) 2013, Slate. Moved Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. (MUST CREDIT: Illustration by Greg Ruth.)

Nate isn’t happy about moving to 395 Neptune Avenue – a new town, a new life and he’s got no input into any of it. But when he finds an old reel-to-reel tape underneath the floorboards of his new room, he’s tossed into a mystery that spans 40 years and who knows how many worlds, complete with talking squirrels, creepy dolls and a tree monster out of a lumberjack’s nightmares. A middle-grade adventure with supernatural overtones but real-world emotions, The Lost Boy gets bigger, funnier, and more exciting as it goes along. It’s reminiscent of Kaz Kibuishi’s Amulet, but has a mood and spirit all its own.

That’s thanks in no small part to writer/cartoonist Greg Ruth’s beautiful art. His evocative penwork ranges from Rockwellesque small-town scenes to whimsical fantasy to deep, dark horror, and it’s rare to see a graphic novel with such control over line and tone. In a year that’s seen any number of excellent comics for kids, The Lost Boy stands out as an exceptional example of graphic storytelling, and the fact that it seems clearly to be the first in a series will get young readers even more excited.

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