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Spiral-Bound: Top Secret Summer

by Aaron Renier

Published by Top Shelf , 2005
178 pages
ISBN: 1891830-50-3

Ages 8-15

At first glance, Spiral-Bound looks like a childís spiral notebook, complete with cute sketches of animals and an abstract, scary-looking monster etched into the well-worn cover. Inside, cartoonlike drawings are framed by the ruled lines of the notebook. The visual and sensual aspects of the notebook urge the reader on into a story that starts simply but grows increasingly complex. Stucky the Hound invites his shy classmate Turnip the Elephant to art camp after seeing one of Turnipís portraits rendered out of the makings of lunch. At camp they are joined by many other animal kids geared for a summer of art, music, writing, and rock-and-roll. But if rumors are true, a mysterious pond monster might prevent the artists from showing their work. The art teacher, Ms. Scrimshaw (a whale), must be protected from fearful adults who think she is the real problem, and important sculpture projects must be completed in the face of major self-doubt and destruction. Ana the rabbit is an intrepid cub reporter at the campís underground newspaper (which really is under ground). With her bird friend Emily, a photographer, she tries to collect evidence of the monster and exonerate Ms. Scrimshaw. Aaron Renier has created an intense, suspenseful yet child-friendly mystery that is full of twists and turns that mirror those in the tunnels that Ana and Emily navigate in their search for evidence (the tunnel map on the endpapers is a terrific visual element).  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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