Middle School Monday | Cast Away on the Letter A by Fred

Cast Away on the Letter A: A Philemon Adventure (A Toon Graphic)

Format: Hardcover, 48 pages (Graphic)
Published: Sept 9 2014
Genre: Fantasy
ISBN: 9781935179634
Age Range: 11+
Rating: 4/5 stars

On an ordinary day in the countryside, Philemon falls into a well on his father’s farm and lands . . . on the Atlantic Ocean — literally on an A-shaped island complete with unicorns, centaurs, and exploding clocks. He begins a wild and whimsical journey home through a fantasy world as original as Alice’s Wonderland, as richly imagined as Little Nemo’s Slumberland, and as exciting to explore as Oz.


This book is not what I was expecting. With the title “Cast Away on the Letter A” I was thinking it was going to be an alphabet book of sorts. Philemon and his adventures are totally new to me, so I had no idea! It’s original title was ‘Philémon – tome 02 – Le naufragé du A’.

The author Fred Othon Aristidès starting writing this series in the 1965. You can tell by the quick storyline and art that it is an older series but for me that just seems much more authentic. Originally in French, the series is in the process of being translated to English and published here in North America. I believe the full series is already released in the United States and the we have just received the first here in Canada (which I believe was actually the second in the series. The full collection (if I did my research correctly) is 16 stories. 

The pictures are like sketches, if you have ever seen ‘Tintin’ it is very comparable. There are lots of details for such small pictures and they definitely helped get the little details across. 

This is the first graphic novel I have ever read (for me, if I wanted visuals I would watch TV lol) but I honestly didn’t mind it. The visuals really helped get the setting across without having to use so many words (yes, that is the point, I know) but I always felt as though the story would lose something. In this case I feel like my brain probably would have painted a nicer picture but the drawing were authentic that it is worth making an exception. 

There is not a lot of heart to the story, or character development. The adventure piece is clear though so I am hoping as the series progresses we will see more of that. The character development happens with little blurbs at  the front of the book – ” Philemon is an imaginative teenager who lives on a farm in the 1960s. When a message in a bottle sparks his curiosity, he falls right into a world of fantastic adventures…” this is not only your character development, but also a pretty accurate summary of the story.  

Will I read the rest of the series? Probably, just for the sheer simple pleasure. These stories will be perfect for the days that my brain is struggling. Do I expect a lot of the series? No, but I think the simplicity is what makes it so enjoyable for me. 

If you love Tintin, inspector gadget or you just want to try something different give this series a try. 

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