Home Time 2: Beyond the Weaving
Top Shelf Productions
School is nearly out for summer and the young pre-teens of Old Mill Primary School have big plans for the summer: baseball, swimming, picnics. But all those plans evaporate when a bridge collapses and sends them into the river and onward to the brightly colored spirit world of the “Peaches.” The Peaches adopt them, and at first all is wonderful. The kids have nice rooms, the food is good if a little weird, and the host citizens are friendly and helpful. But by Book Two, the kids are transported to a much harder, bitter world. There’s a war between the Peaches and the Thunder Lizards, and the kids slide into a gentle Lord of the Flies with power struggles, battles to fight, danger, and loss of innocence. When they arrive back home, their innocence is lost but their authority enhanced. I’m passing over many of the minor points; this set of books clocks in around 500 action and image packed pages. School songs, schematic maps, and detailed contents of backpacks all lend the project a complete record of everything that happens, important or not. And the unimportant things, the things that occupy us when a crisis is not looming, those are what we really should consider as “real life.” A cute backpack, worn down colored pencils, and a slightly soggy sandwich give us the texture of life, and in this story the signposts become that large panels: a greeting party with a bonfire, the mystery of the “Digestion Tree,” complex instructions on brewing tea. It’s a long read, but a well-paced one with enough distractions to keep you engaged.
Home Time 2: Beyond the Weaving revisits the kids half a year later, and they’ve changed. More confident and more cliquish, they now begin to look like a proper tribe. Images telling the tale are darker, and while the panels retain their stylistic sense, tones become darker and gloomier. We learn about “Village Guides” and we meet proper monsters that can do damage while the small graphics retain the cartooning look. Major illustrations are more complex and technical and report on high powers and bigger threats. More technologies appear, and we delve more deeply into the life cycle of the Peaches and the Thunder Lizards and their conflict. These children are now young adults contesting the cycle of questing, entering the transcendent world, capturing a boon, and returning to their original world. While long, this project has wonderful illustration, totally weird denizens, and regular kids all packed with regular ‘tween issues. I highly recommend this book. It’s the sort of book that, once read, you can return to any place in it and learn something you missed the first time. Graphic novels aren’t just for adults anymore.