Friday 11 July 2014

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 11th July 2014 - "The Complete Rainbow Orchid (The Adventures of Julius Chancer)" by Garen Ewing (Egmont Books)

The Complete Rainbow Orchid (The Adventures of Julius Chancer)

Written and Illustrated by
Garen Ewing

Published by Egmont Books

So many people have described the revival of kid's comics as a new golden era, with huge buzz and interest greeting any new release. With comics like The Phoenix leading the charge, folk are slowly discovering something we've known for a heck of a long time - Comics really are a great way to engage kids in reading and drawing, and better than that, they can teach kids a thing or two along the way as well.

Garen Ewing's sublime "Rainbow Orchid" series is something we've (ahem) been meaning to get around to reading for a very long time but when we spotted a copy in our library, we just couldn't resist it. Charlotte is becoming a huge Tintin fan, drawn to stories of derring-do in the style of the saturday morning matinee flicks so it was pretty obvious that she'd want to investigate Rainbow Orchid too.

Intrepid archaeological assistant Julius Chancer is drawn into a globe-spanning adventure - the search for the mythical Rainbow Orchid, and a dastardly plot full of twists and turns. Set in our favourite era for stories (the 1920s) Garen's exhaustive research (lovingly detailed at the back of the book, a section that had me scurrying off with this mighty tome to read up on his methods) shines through in a thrilling adventure tale that will appeal to both girls and boys. Julius Chancer is an everyman hero. He's no lantern-jawed goon but uses his brain to outwit his foes, and his historical knowledge to uncover secrets and clues to the Orchid's whereabouts. Unfortunately Julius and his friends aren't the only ones seeking the sacred flower. Nefarious baddies are also on the trail, led by the foul Urkaz Grope (what a great name!) The race is on for fortune and glory.

Reading up on the publishing history of this story is almost as interesting as reading the story itself. Garen originally published the set of stories on his website, and then later self-published (if ever there was an example to set for reviewers NOT to overlook self-published stuff, this is it!) before being picked up by Egmont.

It's easy to draw comparisons between The Rainbow Orchid and Tintin but I actually (dare I say it) prefer Julius Chancer's adventures (Charlotte won't forgive me for saying that! She still loves Tintin best, but really enjoyed this).

Thrilling, exciting, chock full of delicious detail, edge-of-your-seat moments and as a bonus, lots of things to go off and investigate where the story touches on the real world, this is one of the books I'll shove up people's noses when they tell me comics are "bad for kids".

Charlotte's best bit: Fab and exciting, and plenty of awesome female characters for her to identify with as well as a no-nonsense hero that uses his brains rather than his fists.

Daddy's Favourite bit: A shining example of a brilliant story that you can comfortably recommend to parents looking to introduce their kids to comics. Cannot recommend this highly enough.