'Leo Geo- and his miraculous journey through the center of the earth' by Jon Chad is a book designed to appeal to a lot of different types of geekery going on in our household. It appeals to my book-as-fun-and-beautiful-object fetish: It is a very long, thin hardback and you have to turn it first on its side and then upside down as you follow the story. Ooo- unusual! It appeals to the husband's love of intricate linework and pen and ink hatching excellence. Ooo- detail! It appeals to Bill's love of terrifying monster encounters and outlandish machinery. Ooo- scary! And it's also Quite Educational which is obviously good for all of us but particularly Eddie, who is fond of a fact.
Leo Geo is the Morph-like featureless hero who takes us on an adventure to the centre of the earth and out the other side, courtesy of a giant drilling machine, a whole network of handy tunnels, ladders and the odd ancient civilisation and unexpected mining community. En route he imparts a wide range of different scientific factoids about his encounters and we get to learn about the constituent layers and features of the earth as well as other diversions onto crystal formation, thermal generation, magnetism, the limbic system and possibly too much about the digestive tract of a quadclops ('hurray!' say the boys). There's no attempt to dumb down, rather a revelry in scientific language and precision labeling. Geeky text- and none the worse for that. Sample speech bubbles as he negotiates that quadclops:
"'The membrane in our noses that lets us smell is called the olfactory epithelium. phew I could do without mine right now.'
'Oops! I had intended to sneak up on this ugly brute!'
'I think the monster means to masticate me!'
'Ugh! This is the worst! Wait! This monster might have the same sort of digestive system as other mammals...'
'I'll use science to get out of this pickle!'
'Yuck! I made it through the ileum and colon and managed to...er...escape...Ugh...'"
The mix between 'real' science and fantasy earth contents might confuse or irritate some but I (and Bill) found it more engaging than a purely straight approach. It's clear enough when we're going off piste from the truth. (and -aha-oho-who really knows what's down there anyway hmm?) For kids who like Science Facts and Science Fiction in equal measure (and I know there are plenty out there) this book would be heaven.
Text aside though I'm with the husband in principally admiring this book for it's beautiful black lines. There is detail to pore over and savour. An awful lot of very lovingly drawn rocks and some pretty darn cool monsters too: It's a great visual reference for those developing their drawing passion. Pretty!
(and apologies for the photos which are not going to do that prettiness justice)
Side note- Jon Chad apparently works at the Center for Cartoon Studies. Now doesn't that sound a nice place to study?
I'm labelling this post non-fiction which may be a little controversial.