- Graphic novels
Action and adventure comics
New York :
First Second, an imprint of Roaring Book Press
- First edition
- Physical Description
- 329 pages : chiefly color illustrations ; 23 cm
- Main Author
*Starred Review* A group of boys on bikes sets out to learn whether the lanterns cast down the river in their town's annual ceremony actually turn into stars like the legends say. The titular pact: no turning back from their quest. Who ends up breaking the pact and who doesn't is only one element of this richly imagined and complexly emotional story that would be spoiled by too thorough a plot summary, though the story's power rests less in surprise than in the moment-to-moment unfolding of the journey. Andrews visualizes his concept with a tone and texture that produces an unassuming but profound strangeness: A telephone on top of a boulder in the middle of a stream? All the constellations in the sky interpreted by a talking bear? This embeds the fantasy in an earthy, handcrafted reality, apparent right up to its rough panel borders. It also empathizes with its relatable protagonists—cautious white Ben and guileless, brave, dark-skinned Nathaniel—in a deep way, understanding that being annoying is often the result of reaching out and that being an asshole often stems from fear. It may owe some of its eerie melancholy and occasional menacing absurdity to the likes of Lewis Carroll and Shaun Tan, but its message is distinctly its own: What you imagine to be the end of the journey may be satisfying, but the adventure actually goes on as long as you keep riding down the road. Grades 5-8. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews
Creepy yet benign, this leisurely graphic novel opens on the autumn equinox, when a community sends paper lanterns down a river. Five boys and a bullied tagalong science fanatic named Nathaniel make a pact to find out where the lanterns go. They pedal their bikes along a deserted road, but the vow proves daunting, and Nathaniel and the narrator, Ben, are soon alone on a bridge at the edge of town. They pledge to soldier on, unaware of a hulking shadow creature that rises from the river below. Ben approaches their subsequent adventures with trepidation, while Nathaniel greets every vertiginous cliff and bottomless lake with a gleeful grin. They take up with a fellow traveler, a stylish anthropomorphic bear who seeks to catch the floating lights, which are rumored to turn into fish en route to the stars. Andrews (Nothing Is Forgotten for adults) crafts a phantasmagoria of events that recall animation from Studio Ghibli and Cartoon Saloon. Scenes unfold beneath the Milky Way in twilit dark-blue and charcoal-gray panels, while flashbacks and industrial interiors in glowing ember hues amplify a simmering sense of threat. Picaresque episodes and a dreamlike resolution conjure a giddy sensation, like staying up all night. Ages 10–14. (June) Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.Review by School Library Journal Reviews
Gr 4–7—Each year, during the Autumn Equinox Festival, the townsfolk release lanterns into the nearby river in honor of a local folk song. And every year, a group of boys ride their bikes along the river to follow the lanterns, always stopping partway through. This year, they make a pact to follow the lanterns for as long as possible and discover where they go. But one by one, each rider turns back until the only ones left are narrator Ben and perpetual tag-along Nathaniel. The two boys discover wonders around them: an anthropomorphized bear, a potion maker, and more. This is a charming read, thanks to adventurous Nathaniel, who remains steadfast and self-assured despite enduring verbal bullying from the other boys, in contrast to insecure, timid Ben. The palette is dominated by an inky, navy blue sky infused with ethereal blue stars, occasionally interrupted by vibrant, warm hues. Imprecise linework mirrors the fluidity of the book's reality, and Ben has a Harry Potter–like appearance. VERDICT For readers who want an escapist fantasy with a light touch. Hand this title to fans of whimsical or unpredictable adventures such as Neil Gaiman's Fortunately, the Milk or Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time.—Alea Perez, Westmont Public Library, IL Copyright 2019 School Library Journal.
When their community celebrates the annual Autumn Equinox Festival by lighting paper lanterns and floating them in the river, Ben and the school misfit, Nathaniel, embark on a bicycle trip to discover what happens to the lanterns. Simultaneous.Review by Publisher Summary 2
A 2019 Booklist Editor's ChoiceA 2019 Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the YearA 2019 Parents Magazine Best Children's Books of the YearRyan Andrews's This Was Our Pact is an astonishing, magical-realist adventure story for middle-grade readers.It's the night of the annual Autumn Equinox Festival, when the town gathers to float paper lanterns down the river. Legend has it that after drifting out of sight, they'll soar off to the Milky Way and turn into brilliant stars, but could that actually be true? This year, Ben and his classmates are determined to find out where those lanterns really go, and to ensure success in their mission, they've made a pact with two simple rules: No one turns for home. No one looks back.The plan is to follow the river on their bikes for as long as it takes to learn the truth, but it isn't long before the pact is broken by all except for Ben and (much to Ben's disappointment) Nathaniel, the one kid who just doesn't seem to fit in.Together, Nathaniel and Ben will travel farther than anyone has ever gone, down a winding road full of magic, wonder, and unexpected friendship*.*And a talking bear.