Every year on the Autumn Equinox the villagers drop lanterns into the river. And each year Ben and a few of his mates would cycle along the river path following the lanterns on the start of their journey before reaching Weathered Face Rock, at which point they would head back.
But this year will be different. The legend goes that after drifting out of sight the lanterns float up into the Milky Way and turn into stars. But this seems completely impossible. Ben and his friends are determined to follow the lanterns further than they have ever done before and have agreed that they won’t stop until they know the truth. But will everyone be able to stick to the pact and will they get the answers they are looking for…
Imaginative, creative and sometimes rather weird, Ryan Andrews takes readers on a fantastical journey of friendship, adventure and wonder. Five close friends and tag-along Nathaniel start out on the journey of discovery but the numbers rapidly diminish as members of the group find reasons to drop out and it soon becomes just Ben and Nathaniel. What starts out as a reasonable adventure into the unknown in search of answers to a reasonable question quickly turns into a surreal fantasy adventure involving a talking fisherbear who is on his own journey of discovery to find the place where his ancestors fish and a potty little professor by the name of Madam Majestic.
As all good quests should be, this one poses many challenges along the way and explores themes of overcoming obstacles, perseverance, friendship and loyalty. The artwork is brilliant. As the story takes place at night, many of the pages are illustrated in shades of blue with the lanterns and stars lighting up the pages. More bizarre scenes have flying fish, gigantic crows and an over-sized dog that can walk on water.
It is important to stress that some children will find it difficult to connect with this read and it will not hold appeal to those who prefer their stories grounded in the real world and who prefer logic over the strange. But for those who want a magical and enchanting read centred around a quest where quite literally anything is possible that all plays out under the beautiful starlit sky of the Milky Way then there is much to be enjoyed in Andrews’ graphic novel.
Recommended for 10+.