The First Escape is the first book in The Dopple Ganger Chronicles, a six-book series of illustra-novels that mash together the graphic novel format with traditional text to provide an intriguing new format that engages children in reading. It reminded me a lot of Lemony Snicket's “Series of Unfortunate Events” as it trailed three orphans throughout a turbulent adventure involving murderous plots and treasure.
As an adult reader I found a number of inconsistencies in the plot and it occasionally feels disjointed, but the book moves along at a fast pace to keep the reader's attention. I think that this book would make a wonderful gift for a child that struggles with an attention span too short for traditional chapter books. The First Escape is ideal for kids in grade 4-8, at which age many become obstinant about reading and are easily bored or frustrated when they can't get through a book without concerted effort. At this age, they feel embarassed to be reading picture books but aren't yet ready for the next phase. The cool illustrations make this book an excellent transitional aid to really help children discover the joy of reading without needing to make it an unpleasant experience using pressure or negotiation.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House for review purposes. All opinions are my own.