Monday, April 15, 2013

The Unsinkable Walter Bean

The Unsinkable Walter Bean
by Aaron Renier
208 pages
Middle School+

Walter Bean is a slightly dorky kid who worships his grandfather, his stories and his inventions.  When his grandfather gets struck by an ancient curse, it is up to him to return the evil skull causing the curse.

Not looking for adventure, Walter is suddenly swept up into hiding from pirates, ancient sea monsters hunting them, and inventing machines to fool the entire crew on his ship.  Not to mention, he has to fight on the side of the pirates, rebuild the ship, and try to keep everyone safe from the skull.  If he listens to the whisperings of the skull, he and everyone around his will end up dead.  With new found friends, Walter must figure out who the strange doctor is, what he really wants, and how to protect everyone from the curse of the pearl skull.

So, the story was fun and mostly interesting.  But, to me the artwork was cluttered and messy.  I found myself skimming through a lot of it, just to get it over with.  The story was intriguing enough that I wanted to finish, but the artwork was very distracting from the story for me.  It was like Amulet, where I wanted to stop and really look at the pictures as much as I wanted to read the story.  This was just get it over with!

Other than the artwork, I like the story.  Nice twists, turns and lots of foreshadowing.  The story also has more potential, as if was meant to be the first in a series.  Some things haven't been resolved, but the book doesn't feel like it's left you hanging.  Good balance of wrapping up, but leaving more to be done.

Overall, engrossing storyline but the artwork detracted from the plot, at least for me.  Great adventurous, pirate story with buried treasure (kind of), sword fights and strange inventions.  Boys will get a kick out this book, but there's enough complexity that girls will like it too.  I labeled it as Middle School, but late elementary would probably like it too.

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