Member Reviews

There are a lot of questions in the beginning of this book and most of them aren't really answered. Or really even explored. The journey that encompasses this volume doesn't really add to the larger narrative, apart from introducing the mysteries. And the resolution is fairly haphazard and unfocused.

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As a follower of Colmenares' work on Instagram, I knew there would be richly drawn characters in the inked and in the plot development ways. I read this aloud to my niece translating into Spanish as we went; it was interesting to read as aunt and niece because story wise the book has a lot to do with reevaluating how you think about direct family members. After, she wanted to name objects around her like the story does a chair and blanket. Then she wanted to read through again.
Recommended especially for grade school readers, though in my case a 3-year-old nephew was also drawn into flipping the book many times because of its illustrated quality.

Can't wait for it to be out in Spanish so my niece can read through it without my needing to translate.

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Iggie's life is turned upside down as he leaves the family he knows to go live with his birth mom, in a town where he has no friends and is starting a new school. To add to the situation, he wanders into the woods behind his house and meets a talking rock. He soon sets off on an adventure to the Underwater City with two chess pieces, a chair who loves yoga, and his baby blanket.

I really love the art style and the colors that were used throughout the novel. One of the first things I noticed was how rich the colors were.

This is a cute graphic novel about adventure and friendship. It is set up so that there will be more in the series, so I am looking forward to reading them! I think older elementary/middle school kids would really like this one!

Thank you to NetGalley, Andres J. Colmenares, and Andrews McMeel Publishing for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

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This is a cute little graphic novel, I've only deducted the 1 star as it very much feels like the 1st part of a story, as a stand-alone book it's quite frustrating as you get very few elements resolved.

I did like the non-standard family set-up, and how gently that was dealt with.

I would recommend it, but possibly wait until further parts are released before giving it to an impatient child!

I received an advance copy for free from NetGalley, on the expectation that I would provide an honest review.

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The Ancient Underwater City by Andres J. Colmenares is the first in the Peculiar Woods series. It's a dreamy and whimsical fantasy about a boy who moves to a peculiar new place and discovers that he can hear inanimate objects. His babyhood blanket and a chair in his new room even become animate and join him on a quest into the mysterious woods behind his new home. Colmenares delivers both humor and adventure in this charming story.

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Very cute and quirky. I really liked the themes of friendship. The main character's situation is also something many children can relate to!

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This graphic novel was really quirky, sweet, and focuses on friendship and what "home" means.
I'm a fan of graphic novels, especially to engage reluctant readers. The plot is an engaging adventure for the main character who's moved to a new town and started a new school. I think many children can relate to moving and having to "start over" and looking for where they "fit in". I loved all the inanimate objects coming to life to help the main character when he gets lost and is finding his way home. The artwork is just perfect! I look forward to adding this to my classroom library!

Thank you to NetGalley, Andrews McMeel Publishing, and the author for this eArc. All opinions are my own.

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A cute graphic novel with a slight paranormal twist. It also goes a little into different family groups. The blankie is cute.

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Moving to a new town can be a scary experience [as I can FULLY attest to as I have done it so many times I've lost count now] and for Iggie, it is even more difficult as his whole family dynamic has changed [THIS is a very interesting concept to tackle in a middle grade graphic novel and I admire the author for going down this road; it is the perfect opportunity to talk to your kids about alternate families, about adoption, about how sometimes adults are just not prepared for "adulthood" and others step up until they are] and he is struggling to reconcile all of that [as any child would]. Already a lonely, odd kid, being in a new town and school becomes even more difficult, until he gets lost and a rock both talks to him and rescues him. This leads him down a path he never expected and adventures ensue.

Very thought-provoking and extremely quirky, I really enjoyed this graphic novel and CANNOT wait for the next one in the series. I so need to know what happens with Iggie and his new....uh...friends. Yeah. That's what we will call them. Yep. For sure. ;-)

Thank you to NetGalley, Andres J. Colmenares, and Andrews McMeel Publishing for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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This graphic novel was very sweet!
Some stand out elements for me are: The art style which is really beautiful, the blanket (absolutely adorable) and the family dynamic.
Overall the story was really cute and I had a lovely time reading it!

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A young boy in a new home. His only friends? Inanimate objects that are somehow now... animated? And the grand adventure they go on to save his village.

My love for Andres work started with his Instagram account @wawawiwacomics - and now I am completely sold on this world he has created in Peculiar Woods!

As a child, The Brave Little Toaster was one of the weirdest movies out there, yet it was one of my favorites. It'll always be one I remember, and now this book will be, too.

I am completely intrigued by this story and can't wait to figure out what happens next. I loved the characters Andres created - Iggie, Boris the chair, Blankie, and even L.G. I adore the subtle life lessons and corny jokes weaved throughout. This is something I enjoyed in Andres comics previously that I am so glad he weaved into this story.

There were moments that made me chuckle and moments that made me go, "Aw." It goes without saying that this was a big win for me. Bring on Volume 2!

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A gentle fantasy about the many meanings of home.

From Andrés J. Colmenares, the artist behind the adorable webcomic Wawawiwa, comes a graphic novel with deep worldbuilding, understated characterization, and a whimsical sense of humor: Peculiar Woods, whose first entry, The Ancient Underwater City, tells the story of Iggie, a sensitive boy who moves to a new town near the forest and becomes intrigued by the secrets of a lake that doesn't appear on the map. As he learns to adapt to a different school, a mysterious forest and a new family situation, he meets unexpected friends in the objects around him.

That's the magic of this town: without warning, without any clear pattern, objects come to life. Against his mother's advice, Iggie goes on a risky adventure with his blanket, which can wrap itself to walk or spread wide to fly; his chair, a yoga enthusiast with anger management issues; and a chess king, which is convinced that he has a kingdom to return to. The quest to help the chess king find his home ends up uncovering clues about the origin of the lake, the creatures that hide nearby, and the magic that animates objects. The final pages lead to a strong cliffhanger that promises more revelations to come.

There's an irresistible sweetness to this story. For reasons to be explained in future entries, Iggie has so far lived separated from his mother, and he's very aware of his feelings of vulnerability and loneliness, even as he strives to not let them show. Over the course of this adventure, he starts learning to share his fears and open up to others who are as vulnerable as he is. This is a beautiful emotional journey to watch; one is immediately captivated by Iggie's thoughtful and delicate personality. In the design of this character, the story succeeds at avoiding a common pitfall of children's literature: the protagonist experiences noticeable inner growth, but never in a manner incongruous with his age.

The author's trademark visual style suits greatly the book's emotional content. The palette is soft, without sharp contrasts; the lines have a hand-drawn appearance that doesn't try to hide irregularities; and the facial expressions have just the intensity needed. The combination of these artistic elements is effective without looking calculated. Like the characters in Wawawiwa, those in Peculiar Woods make odd choices that make total sense once the full story is considered. Even in a world that has bullies and scheming villains, Peculiar Woods doesn't lose its firm grounding in the inherent kindness of people.

Nerd Coefficient: 8/10.

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Iggie is moving to a new city and is understandably nervous. There, he meets a number of unusual characters and learns a lot about his new surroundings.

This graphic novel is a bit bonkers. There are bits I'm not sure I understood and parts of the story that I'd like to know more about but I am hoping that this is the first installment in a series and some of these things will become clearer.

The illustrations are great and I really enjoyed the colours used. I know that the children I work with will enjoy this when I add it to our collection.

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I have mixed feelings about this graphic novel for middle grade readers. There is no reason I wouldn't recommend it to someone who asked my opinion. I just never quite got into it and found the whole story set up a bit strange. So - the three stars are based on my reactions, not on any inherent problem with the book.

Review based on an eARC received through NetGalley.

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A tender, delicate and original story about friendship, motherhood, fitting into strange and new places.
An exciting and emotional road trip in which the characters are amazing and it was a delight to read this story that I found nostalgic.

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I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The book was in comic style, so it was very easy for my 7 years old to get through despite the length. The story follows a boy moving with his mom to a new town and oh my, the animated objects he encounters and the adventure he has. Looking forward to future installments in the series.

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Thank you to Andrew’s-McNeal for sending me this ARC. All reviews are honest reflections of my own opinions, always.

Iggie’s life is… not normal. His unique family situation finds him in a new home, with a Mother he hardly knows, in an out of the way town, at a school where everything goes wrong on his very first day.

But these mundane troubles pale in comparison to the secrets being kept, because in the town of Peculiar Woods, there is far more adventure than meets the eye. When a baby blanket, chair and two chess pieces take on lives of their own, found family begins to form as a dire mission begins.

An enjoyable middle grade graphic novel with unique characters & an adventure gentle enough to be lighthearted, but bold enough to offer some exciting moments. While the story was middle-of-the-road interesting, it felt very much like the foundations of a book, rather than a finished tale (& I’m positive this will have a follow up book, given the ending). Nearly all the plot is left unexplained and open ended, making it a little confusing for the reader.

Overall a cute story for the middle grade reader.

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3.5 stars

This book reminded me a lot of Adventure Time. The illustrations are simple but easy to follow. I found the story was a little harder for me to follow and understand.
I’m not sure I fully understand the adventure that was had, or the animated object characters (a yoga-loving chair, a blanket that looks like a ghost, 2 chess pieces) or why there seemed to be so much setup with such little payoff with the human characters.
The story aspect really reminded me of the old comic compilation books my parents had. The kind that showed different stories of Mickey Mouse, or Superman, and how the story felt very segmented as a day-to-day comic, but sometimes the reader (or maybe just me?) thought they were missing something between one day and the next. That was how I felt with a lot of this story, I felt like I was missing parts of the plot. I was left wondering “why?” a lot, but maybe that’s part of the story in this case. I think this story is geared towards younger readers, and perhaps parts of the story is intentionally left ambiguous for the young reader to develop more of the story through their own imagination. It also appears this is set to be part of a series, so hopefully some of those questions will be answered later on.
I’m still trying to figure out it graphic novels are for me. I don’t think this one was for me, but I do think the illustrations are fantastic and fun enough that a grade school reader would have fun immersing themself in this adventure.

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Thank you to NetGalley for the advanced readers copy of ‘Peculiar Woods: The Ancient Underwater City’. I follow Andres on Instagram and when I saw he was coming out with a graphic novel, I had to come and see if I could get it on NetGalley! This story was so fun and cute! I’m excited to see what the next book has in store for readers. Can it possibly give more background information into Jill’s story? I enjoyed the ending with the washer and to find out who ‘her’ is. Is it Jill? Will the washer flood this town?! Artwork was beautiful and fun. Highly recommend! Thanks again to NetGalley for the advanced readers copy!

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Peculiar Woods is a good first installment in what appears to be a graphic novel series. The plot was easy to follow, however there were noticeable gaps in the story. I hope these gaps are filled in subsequent books. But, for a middle grade graphic novel, I was impressed. There was humor, heartfelt messages and a whimsical sense of adventure. I would love to see how this story progresses.

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