Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Historical Fiction
Oyster War

Oyster War

Fall 2016 Historical Fiction
Ages: 13 & Up
Author: Ben Towle
Publisher: Oni Press
ISBN: 978-1-62010-262-6
Hardcover Price: $19.99

Oyster War is Ben Towle's captivating fictional illustration of a real-life saga that began in the mid-19th century and lasted almost 100 years. Shortly after the Civil War, watermen on the Chesapeake Bay discovered a financial treasure trove in their front yard: oysters. For almost three decades, the legal watermen supplied almost half of the oysters in the world, and built a thriving economy from it. Then the pirates came. They dredged and ruined the beds, operated illegally, and the Oyster War began -- violent clashes between midnight marauders and the honest-working townspeople.

In an effort to boost his popularity, William Cameron, the governor of Virginia at the time, took on the pirates and vowed to shut them down, and that is where Towle's Oyster War begins. It kicks off with the governor assigning a curmudgeonly Commander Bulloch to pull together a unit from a ragtag group of aging and out-of-shape locals, that will hopefully put an end to Treacher Fink and his nefarious oyster-looting gang.

As historically interesting as the story is, Towle's graphic depiction makes it fascinating and lively for today's readers. The aesthetic presentation - from the big, bold beautiful cover, to the quirky characters themselves, right down to each scowl and wayward hair on their chins - is superb.

The book's panels zoom in and out as the scene demands -- close-ups on emotions, long-shots on action. Towle's subtle touches, such as his strategic use of white and canny changes to size and placement of panels - are sweet on the eyes, and synchronize perfectly with the pace and action of the story.

A visual and narrative treat from cover to cover.

Teresa DiFalco   ©2016 Parents' Choice
Teresa DiFalco is an award-winning ghostwriter, writer, and mother in Vancouver, Washington. She's been a contributing editor for Parents' Choice for over ten years. She's a strong speller, a menace at badminton, and makes a decent soufflé.

Look for this product at:
Oni Press

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