Amelia Erroway: Castaway Commander

Scholastic/Graphix. Aug. 2021. 288p. Tr $26.99. ISBN 9781338186147.
Gr 3-6–Swirling landscapes and fantastic inventions compete for attention in this visual feast. Amelia is bored with her life of privilege as daughter of a famous airship captain, but when she takes her father’s ship out, she crash-lands in uncharted territory. Now all she wants is to return to her beloved papa and comfortable life in the city. Luckily, she’s not far from the tree house home of free-spirited twins Rastor and Fynley and their engineer/medic mother. Fynley and Rastor just happen to be inventors with a workshop and a forge and are as reckless as she is. Lots of slapstick balanced with disappointment ensues as they work together to devise transportation that will deliver Amelia back home. But the art is the real star of this book—sheer watercolors in candy hues billow across the page in luscious, rounded shapes, while airships and other machinery are as detailed and luxe as tall ships. Although the book has a lot of energy, with excitable characters who do a lot of yelling and whooping and finishing one another’s sentences, the story is oddly languorous. Scenes frequently span multiple pages, and one line of dialogue may stretch across many panels. But for fantastical adventure with a side of engineering that is also a master class in painting fantasy clouds, vines, foliage, and water, Amelia and her friends will satisfy. Amelia is white, while Rastor and Fynley are brown-skinned.
VERDICT Appealing characters and fascinating art make up for a slow story.

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