Things in the Basement

First Second. Aug. 2023. 240p. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781250909541.
Gr 3-5–The search for a sock opens doors to new worlds, both fantastic and eerie, in Hatke’s newest graphic novel. Milo, shown as a brown-skinned young boy, has to retrieve one of his twin siblings’ socks from the basement laundry room, but a rat snatches it before Milo can grab it. Milo finds the courage to pursue the rat and discovers secret chambers that lead to a fantastic world inhabited by such denizens as a floating skull, a sensitive one-eyed tentacled creature, an army of mushrooms, and a ghost—all of whom he will need in order to locate the sock and get back home. Hatke is at his best in this book that blends fantasy with reality, deftly harmonizing murky greens and browns with cool blues and purples to create an eerie and wonderful atmosphere. His command of light is breathtaking, with a small torch borne by Milo providing warmth and denoting safety as he delves deeper into the subterranean landscape. Leaving his tale sparsely worded, Hatke uses illustration to weave a story of friendship and bravery.
VERDICT A recommended first purchase for graphic novel collections.

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