THE STONEKEEPER (Book 1, the Amulet); Kazu Kibuishi; New York: Scholastic, 2008, 185 pp.
Finding graphic novels for children is a tricky business, because most graphic novels are created for teenagers or adults and are unsuitable for the little dudes. Kazu Kibuishi's new "Amulet" series is a welcome exception. Just scary enough to fully engage the pre-teen crowd, The Stonekeeper begins on a sorrowful note, as Emily's father is killed in an accident. Two years later Emily, her mom, and her little brother Navin move to great-uncle Silas' ancestral home. Strange creatures make furtive appearances, Emily's mother is ingested and poisoned by an octopus-like monster, and Emily and Navin must figure out a way to save her. Luckily, Emily has discovered a mysterious amulet which gives her power beyond her own, and directions for saving herself and her family. Kibuishi's fine drawings create just the right atmosphere--creepy, but not gory or gross. Uncle Silas' animatrons provide comic relief, and help in time of need. The only downside is that The Stonekeeper has a cliffhanger ending and Book 2 is not yet on the horizon. Be prepared to hold your breath.