In this debut graphic novel, four siblings discover a passage to a number of worlds, precipitating grand escapades and a great deal of peril.
Neil and Kristen Cooper are relocating their family to a new home, a fixer-upper in a seemingly vacant neighborhood. On moving day, young Rob finds a sizable hole in the backyard, which leads to a tunnel that he; his sisters, Lauren, Claire, and Elyse; and the family dog, Cash, enter. Underground, where surprisingly Cash can talk, are doors leading to various worlds. Over the next few days, the siblings explore a desert, a forest, and many other places and even take some items for Neil’s birthday. Unfortunately, pirates who had already claimed the pieces crawl up the backyard hole and kidnap the entire family. Though the Coopers eventually manage to escape, they are almost entirely separated. Kristen sprints through the tunnel with little Elyse in tow; ever loyal Cash helps Rob evade pirates and track down Neil; and Lauren, hiding in a forested world, stumbles on another danger. But Claire winds up in a giant library, where she encounters strange individuals with a unique ability to help her and her family—or severely compound their predicaments. Heetebrij’s diverting tale, most assuredly a series launch, boasts characters with distinctive personalities. Neil, for example, tries to convince himself he’s dreaming during the initial pirate abduction while Elyse, when scared, clings to the closest family member. And Cash turns out to be a scene-stealer; in an argument with Neil, the canine, who occasionally wears a spray collar, suggests: “How about a collar to shut you up?” Though the pirates supply much of the villainy, there are vivid characters throughout, from fairy trolls to a band of knights. Complementing the writing are the striking and animated images by debut illustrator Lareva. But the artwork’s most discernible quality is the color-defined worlds; the blue-gray library, the dark green forest, and the black tunnel with minimal light provide readers with effortless scene transitions as well as visual treats.
A vibrant, entertaining, and memorable adventure with strong characters.