Lee Nordling is an author, art director, and comics-industry
Bruce Zick works in the film and animation industry as a concept artist and background designer for such studios as Disney, Dreamworks, Pixar, Lucas, Francis Ford Copolla, Marvel Comics, Darkhorse Comics, and many others.
In this heartfelt tale, a boy's encounter with a fantasy world
allows him to find acceptance in the real one.
When Cameron tries to join in a game of tag, he's bullied and teased. The illustrations, done in a comic-book format with multiple panels, heartbreakingly display the boy's feelings of rejection and loneliness. But when a creature from the bramble leaves an amulet behind, Cameron--like Alice with the White Rabbit--follows the creature through a dark hole. He emerges into a world where an ominous wave brings terror to all the creatures. Despite this, they welcome and befriend him, and when the wave reappears, Cameron bravely faces it. A game of tag defeats the wave, releasing long-lost creatures back to beloved family and friends. Nordling and Zick's metaphor becomes clear as Cameron returns to reality and finds the courage to challenge the bully to another game of tag. The wave and the bully are one and the same, striking fear into those around, overpowering--even distorting and removing--people's kindness and friendship. But this time, Cameron is victorious, and the boy accepts him into the group. The artist's energetic pencil illustrations skillfully create atmospheric environments and intriguing creatures. Different tints are used to indicate the two sides of the bramble, but both worlds are filled with texture and detail.
This nearly wordless tale offers much for readers to discuss and interpret, as the power of the individual to make a negative or positive impact in the world is explored. A good addition to the overcoming-bullies bookshelf. --Kirkus Reviews
Nordling's career in comics and Zick's work in film animation are evident in this collaboration. Presented in sequential and inset panels, the narrative unfolds primarily through wordless images. The Bramble is both a gateway to another world and a mysterious, but benevolent, phenomenon. As the story begins, Cameron is playing tag when a bigger boy taps him and leads away the other kids. As the protagonist broods, the Bramble grows into a massive wall. Out pops a pint-size creature sporting four arms, two legs, and an amulet that it drops on the ground. After Cameron seizes the necklace and follows it, sepia tones turn to blue, and the otherworldy calm is interrupted by a rush of purple beings fleeing a Fantasia-like wave. The hero is lifted into a tree by his new friend and then taken to a campfire ceremony that involves cavorting and howling at the Moon. When the menacing wave returns, the boy confronts it and tags it, an action that seems to empower him for the final game back in the real world. Readers will be drawn in by the cover depicting the youngster peeking into the Bramble and will be amused by the reverse scene on the back. A limited palette illustrates mood and setting. Close reading will untangle the feel-good story line. --School Library Journal-- "Journal"