The Doldrums

Featured
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
1462   0
Write Review
The Doldrums
Age Range
8+
Release Date
September 29, 2015
ISBN
978-0062320940
Buy This Book
      

Have you ever wanted to hold a little piece of the impossible? Lavishly illustrated in full color, The Doldrums is an extraordinary debut about friendship, imagination, and the yearning for adventure from author-artist Nicholas Gannon. A modern classic in the making, The Doldrums is for readers of inventive and timeless authors such as Brian Selznick and Lemony Snicket. Archer B. Helmsley wants an adventure. No, he needs an adventure. His grandparents were famous explorers . . . until they got stuck on an iceberg. Now Archer's mother barely lets him out of the house. As if that would stop a true Helmsley. Archer enlists Adelaide—the girl who, according to rumor, lost her leg to a crocodile—and Oliver—the boy next door—to help him rescue his grandparents. The Doldrums whisks us off on an adventure full of sly humor, incredible detail, and enormous heart. With approximately twenty pieces of breathtaking full-color artwork, as well as black-and-white spot illustrations, and gorgeous, literary writing, Nicholas Gannon proves himself to be a distinctive new voice with his middle grade debut. Be in it for the limitless imagination. For the characters who capture your heart. For the rich world you'll want to settle into. But most of all, be in it for the friendship. That, after all, is the true adventure.

Editor reviews

1 reviews

Overall rating 
 
4.3
Plot 
 
4.0  (1)
Characters 
 
4.0  (1)
Writing Style 
 
5.0  (1)
Overall rating 
 
4.3
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0

Refreshingly Classical

An enchantingly quirky jaunt of a story—ideal for fans of Roald Dahl or Lemony Snicket.

The Doldrums is a tale about a lonely, overprotected eleven-year-old boy named Archer B. Helmsley. Though he is the grandson of two famous explorers and lives in their fantastical house of curiosities (alongside exotic examples of taxidermy), he is in serious want of both friendship and adventure.
"Did Ralph and Rachel march to the beat of a different drum? Perhaps. You could even say they ditched the marching and the drums and danced a jig to a xylophone instead."

It’s been two years since Ralph and Rachel Helmsley went missing in an unfortunate iceberg incident. Though Archer knows little about his grandparents and hasn’t seen them since he was a baby, his interest is piqued when trunks containing some of their belongings arrive on his doorstep. He convinces himself that his grandparents aren’t dead, and begins planning his own expedition to Antarctica in the far-fetched hope of retrieving them. But he knows he can’t do it alone.

Friendship is a strong and pervasive theme running throughout this book. It isn’t until Archer joins forces with Oliver—his somewhat cowardly but well-meaning neighbor, and Adelaide—his new French classmate with a wooden leg and a wild story about how she got it, that the story really picks up steam. Adelaide outshines Oliver with quiet prominence, thanks to several chapters dedicated solely to her unique backstory. Her confident poise and improvisational skills lend a cohesive balance to the dynamic between the boys, as well as a curious point of tension with Archer as her presence poses a challenge to the hazy nuisance of fast-approaching puberty.

On the whole, the prose has the feel of a classic. Eloquently written and languidly paced, The Doldrums does require a bit of patience to finally deliver on the promise of adventure and intrigue. (Even then, it’s more misadventure than not.) But the descriptions, combined with emotional depth, cunning humor, and competent dialogue, makes for a charming literary experience.

"And who said anything about dying? I don't plan on dying."

"Nobody plans on dying," said Oliver.

"I nearly died," said Adelaide.

"That's why you're not afraid," Oliver replied. "I've only had far-death experiences and I prefer to keep it that way."

On the downside, nearly all of the adults in this book felt disappointingly one-dimensional—either flatly horrible, or so passive and appeasing they enable the horrible ones with their negligence. The exception, of course, being Archer’s grandparents. (Although, they end up being more mythos than characters in this particular installment.) In a way, this book felt like a lengthy prologue—an intricately detailed preamble to Archer and his cohorts, along with the idea of “The Society,” which seems sure to come into play in later books.

I feel the need to add: the illustrations in this book are FANTASTIC. A few elaborate black-and-white snippets here and there to break up heavier chapters, and regularly interspersed with full-page color artwork that offers warm sienna leanings—which fittingly invokes a vaguely 1950’s air. The quality of the imagery is both a compliment and an irrefutable enhancement to Gannon’s writing. The fact he is both author AND illustrator is exceedingly impressive, epitomizing the phrase "labor of love."

This is definitely a budding middle-grade series (and author) worth keeping an eye on!

Was this review helpful to you? 

User reviews

There are no user reviews for this listing.
Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

Even Monsters Go To School
What’s a school day like for you? ...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Can Cat and Bird Be Friends
In a sweet and clever picture book from debut author-illustrator...
 
3.5
 
0.0 (0)
Origami Bible Stories For Kids
Perfect for Sunday school lessons and youth group activities--paper figures...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Pig the Stinker
In this hilarious adventure, Pig the Pug STINKS! Pig likes...
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Little Rabbit Lost
It is Little Rabbit’s birthday and his family surprises him...
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Cece Loves Science and Adventure
Cece loves science and adventure! ...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Hannah Sparkles: Hooray For the First Day of School
Cheer along with Hannah Sparkles on her first day of...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Turtle and Tortoise Are Not Friends
This is Turtle. This is...
 
3.5
 
0.0 (0)
Trace
In a debut novel that's perfect for fans of Jason...
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
When Summer Ends
Three months Two changed fates One...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Mystery Club (Mr. Wolf's Class #2)
Mr. Wolf's students are settling into their new classroom, and...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Baby Astronaut (Baby Scientist)
Baby Scientist is an adorable board book series that brings...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Tree of Dreams
Dear Coco and Leo, I miss you! We...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Teeth in the Mist
A genre-bending epic horror-fantasy, inspired by the legend of...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
A Bond of Venom and Magic
Magic awakens. Darkness stirs. The Wraith Lord hunts. The...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Piranhas Don't Eat Bananas
Everyone knows that piranhas don't eat bananas -- except for...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)

Latest Member Reviews

When Summer Ends
 
5.0
"This book is everything. The Story: Olivia and Aiden have good lives. Olivia has a boyfriend she loves..."
Vow of Thieves (Dance of Thieves, #2)
 
5.0
"VOW OF THIEVES is a thrilling end to a wonderful spin-off YA fantasy. Although a spin-off series from the Remnant..."
The Beautiful Lost
 
3.3
"A first-person past-tense telling exclusively from the perspective of Maia, a depressed high school sophomore with some ambitious—if half-formed—plans for..."
Dance of Thieves (Dance of Thieves, #1)
 
5.0
"Absolutely fantastic! "Dance of Thieves" is a really wonderful YA fantasy that takes place in the world of 'The Remnant..."
10 Blind Dates
 
4.7
"10 BLIND DATES is the must-read romantic comedy of the fall! Sophie is staying with her grandparents and her very..."
Maybe This Time
 
4.7
"Sophie is bound and determined to make it out of her small Alabama town and attend design school in New..."
Brawler
 
4.7
"Eddie McGuire is a talented high school wrestler with a horribly short fuse. This is no doubt a result of..."
Skyjacked!
 
3.3
"Six students from an elite private school are returning home after a camping trip on the private plane belonging to..."
Wicked Fox (Gumiho, #1)
 
4.0
"WICKED FOX is a unique urban fantasy that uses Korean mythology to bring a mythological creature to life. Miyoung is..."
Wilder Girls
 
4.7
"Beware. Wilder Girls will draw you in, softy whispering tendrils creeping through your mind and thorny vines entangling your heart..."
Aurora Rising
 
5.0
"Now I am huge huge fan of both Jay and Amie as individuals and as co-authors. Their Illuminae series completely..."
Crown of Coral and Pearl
 
4.7
"CROWN OF CORAL AND PEARL Is a story of sisters, adventure, and change. Nor and Zadie, whose names mean coral..."
The Grace Year
 
5.0
"THE HANDMAID'S TALE meets LORD OF THE FLIES in this dark, atmospheric, and sweeping YA dystopian. Tierney James is 16-years-old,..."
The Last True Poets of the Sea
 
5.0
"THE LAST TRUE POETS OF THE SEA is a beautiful coming-of-age story. After her brother attempts suicide, he is sent..."
No Place Like Here
 
4.7
"When Ashlyn’s father goes to prison and her mother goes to rehab for depression, her world falls apart. Ashlyn’s father..."
Trash
 
4.0
"The plot of the story for most of the book is great but towards the end of the book, it..."
Hatchet (Brian's Saga #1)
 
3.0
"this is a good book, but it doesn't have a good ending to it. it sounds a bit rushed, but..."
Not if I Save You First
 
4.3
"this book is amazing!!! I am still reading it but I am up to a good part. don't wanna spoil..."
Hatchet (Brian's Saga #1)
 
2.3
"it was very repetitive, and the beginning was very boring and it dragged on a bit "
Hatchet (Brian's Saga #1)
 
3.3
"The book takes a long time for the climax to come in and the start is very boring."