One Trick Pony by Nathan Hale

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One Trick Pony by Nathan Hale

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Category: Graphic Novels
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A highly dramatic bundle of the unlikely, in graphic novel form, for the under-thirteens. The colour scheme and unusual world will only appeal.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 128 Date: March 2017
Publisher: Abrams Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781419721281

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Forget the moon being made of cheese, here the Earth looks like it's a huge dollop of the finest Swiss stuff. Horrid, giant insectoid alien things have taken over, and they have zapped anything technological they can find – pumping a blob of something over it, and turning whatever turns up in the resulting spheres into sand, or carting it off to larger ships. Our heroes belong to a travelling caravan of a village, keeping intact as much human knowledge as they can (think a digital version of those readers in Fahrenheit 451), but they've left their compatriots behind to go exploring. They'll never expect to find a magical, wondrous, robotic horse, though – which is where their problems begin…

There are definitely flaws in these pages, but I have to declare that it's only the adult me that feels compelled to mention them. The high drama can suddenly turn into bickering designed to be humorous, and the comedy from that jarred with me. Without reading the blurb, I almost got a third of the way through before being told one of the characters was female – before then I thought the trio to be all long-haired teenaged lads from central fantasy casting. But perhaps the largest sin – again, for me – was the selection of huge contrivances that occur here. My scoff meter nearly hit red at times.

As I suggest, though, a younger reader – the all-important target audience of eight to twelve – will be able to skip all of that. And they will find, as indeed I did, a whole host of things to the book's credit. I love the colouring – a very limited palette of light and dark sepia, and a coppery skin tone, is it – but the shading and rendering brings the world really to life with a punchy effect. There's a lot more class here as a result than if this had been given the usual youthful, garish treatment.

The look is also aided by the results of the alien's work – both small and huge curved voids in the planet, and it takes no imagination to think of who and what had been zapped in times past. This is a PG post-apocalypse world, but it's definitely a vivid post-apocalypse world. And that's where the book won me over – yes, I would have liked it a lot more if it had been clear the main character was a female, but the self-contained story featuring her and her companions is a highly dramatic one and in a wonderfully evoked landscape that really can be quite appealing.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

This is a big step up from the past, where Mr Hale was merely illustrator on works such as Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale and Nathan Hale – it certainly shows promise. For more pictorial fantasy for this age range, there have been at least two commendable books in the Rutabaga the Adventure Chef series from Eric Colossal.

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Buy One Trick Pony by Nathan Hale at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy One Trick Pony by Nathan Hale at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy One Trick Pony by Nathan Hale at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy One Trick Pony by Nathan Hale at


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