written and illustrated by John Fardell
Louis and Sarah set off from home one day, Louis on his scooter and Sarah on her bike. "[U]nfortunately, Louis was eaten up by a Gulper." A Gulper, apparently, is a giant, long tongued, fuzzy orange monster. "Sarah didn't panic. She knew that Gulpers usually swallow their food whole and that if she was quick, there might be a way to get Louis back out."
May I pause for a moment here and say I find this hilarious? I LOVE the tone of this story. It's so matter-of-fact. Sarah's little brother gets eaten by a giant woods-dwelling monster and she just goes about figuring out how to save him without even pausing for a quick "AAAAAAAUGH!" Fantastic!
Because Sarah hesitates to pick something up, the Gulper takes off and she pursues him on her bike. But, "[U]nfortuntaly, the Gulper was eaten up by a Grabular," a giant black flying monster thing. As each fanciful creature eats up each preceding fanciful creature, Sarah must get more and more clever in her chase. She must add water gear to her bike, then underwater gear, and then mountain climbing gear as she pedals along, determined to save Louis.
So much of this story is told in the illustrations. The sparse text only provides some of the information and young readers can search out the fantastic landscape drawings for other tidbits. The names of the animals provide fun, as well - Saber-toothed Yumper is my favorite.
Eventually, the intrepid Sarah manages to extract Louis from deep inside a now many-layered demise and he, comfortably curled up reading a book, says, "There you are. I knew you'd come. how are we going to get out of here?" Sarah, of course, who stopped way back at the beginning to pick something up, has just the remedy for their conundrum and saves the day. Hilariously. A quick twist at the end is a lovely tribute to the power of siblings, and Sarah and Louis head home as if nothing unusual has happened.
Fardell's artwork is pleasing, and lots of panels are used to show Sarah's progression as she chases. My favorite spread is of Sarah making her way, with the help of a flashlight, into the Saber-toothed Yumper's mouth and then into each animal to find Louis - awesome!