Friday, July 4, 2008

THE DREAMLAND CHRONICLES: BOOK 1



By Kevin Hodgson
Staff Writer


STORY SYNOPSIS
What if you lost your sense of adventure? What if you stopped dreaming and your imagination was left to wither away?

In THE DREAMLAND CHRONICLES, writer and artist Scott Christian Sava introduces us to a character who must dream in order to enter into and become part of an alternative world. Drawn in computerized 3D imagery with computer graphics, Sava elaborately creates a place of the imagination where creatures both big and small, kind and deadly, are on the loose.

Originally a web-based comic (which has been offered as a free e-book via WOWIO or can be viewed at The Dreamland Chronicles weblog) launched in 2006, THE DREAMLAND CHRONICLES has recently made its way to the printed page in book form. It's clear that Sava works hard to reach out to his audience, asking advice for characters and for his illustrations as the stories develop. This connection with his readers brings an interesting twist to THE DREAMLAND CHRONICLES and demonstrates Sava's understanding of audience. According to Wikipedia, Sava's story series has been nominated for numerous awards and won Best Graphic Novel of 2006 in Comics Buyer's Guide's 25th Annual Fan Awards.

The plot revolves around a main character, Alex, who grew up entering Dreamland as he slept at night, and then relaying his tales of adventure to his twin brother, Daniel. On his 12th birthday, while in Dreamland, Alex finds a sword inside a tomb. And there is a fierce dragon guarding the tomb. In danger from the dragon, sword in hand, Alex suddenly comes out of his dream and never dreams again for the next eight years, when THE DREAMLAND CHRONICLES picks up the story.

The story opens with Alex and Daniel as college roommates. Alex no longer believes that Dreamland was ever a real place, and he lost the ability to dream, and his twin brother is disheartened by the change he sees in his sibling. But then, Alex is brought back to Dreamland and the story unfolds as Alex is called on to help solve the mystery of the disappearance of the parents of one of his Dreamland friend and he must help save this world inside of his imagination.

THE DREAMLAND CHRONICLES is rich with characters – from Nastajia, the elf princess, to Paddington, the rock giant – and Sava has done well with developing their personalities from the start. Not everyone in these stories likes Alex and Alex himself comes across as a mixed character – full of flaws and yet full of potential, too. Alex's brother, for example, sees both the elf-centered side of Alex and wishes that he were the one to enter Dreamland, and not Alex. But he also is in awe of Alex's abilities and yearns to hear more of the stories of adventure that Alex tells. There are some subtle, yet truthful, sibling dynamics at work between these two brothers. Sava also wisely creates both strong female and male characters, allowing girls as well as boys to enter the story with a sense of identity.

ART REVIEW
The 3d computer illustrations grow on the reader. Without the use of a pen and ink, the pictures can seem a bit distant and cold to the eyes at first, particularly if you are not attuned to computer graphics. Sava wisely uses a full color palate afforded to him by the computer software and he taps the ability to create different views of the scene to immerse the reader into the wide expanses of Dreamland. By using an imaginary place, Sava can create a vision of this world in full display with the technology available to him.

AGE RECOMMENDATION:
My Rating: All Ages
This series of comic books is suitable for all ages, with no profanity or inappropriate violence. But the story may be more engaging for upper elementary through high school readers.

IN THE CLASSROOM
For the classroom, THE DREAMLAND CHRONICLES provides ample opportunity for teachers and students to discuss character development, the importance of setting, and the use of multiple narratives (the story inside of Dreamland and the story outside of Dreamland).

In addition, Sava has created a series of web-based comics that bring the reader inside the creation of the comic itself (available as a free e-book downloads through WOWIO ). Sava has embedded video into these tutorials, and he talks to the reader about the use of software to create a graphic story. These behind-the-scenes comics allow young writers and artists to watch the creation of characters and story on their screens, with Sava talking them through his process and thinking. The reader can literally watch the mouse clicks that Sava makes to change a view or character. This alone makes THE DREAMLAND CHRONICLES a must-read for the classroom of young writers and creators. My sixth grade students were completely engaged in Sava's explanation behind the creation of his comic books and they had more questions than I had answers about how technology can be used for writing and illustrating a book. Next year, I may just direct them to Sava's blog, where he takes the time to answer questions from his readers and engage them in conversations about the story.

MY RECOMMENDATION:
Recommended

OTHER INFORMATION:
Click here to read the review of Sava's other title, ED'S TERRESTRIALS.

AUTHOR & ILLUSTRATOR: Scott Christian Sava
PUBLISHER: Blue Dream Studios
GENRE: Fantasy
FORMAT: Paperback
VOLUME: 1
EDITION: First (November 1, 2006)
PAGES: 300
COLOR: Full color
ISBN-10: 0978916808
ISBN-13: 978-0978916800

6 comments:

Scott Christian Sava said...

Hey Kevin...
I'm honored to be your first review on the Graphic Classroom site!
Thank you for the kind words and throrough review!
I'm actually amazed at how much your students enjoyed the making of videos. I guess now I have to go do more.
:)

Thanks again and welcome to Graphic Classroom.

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