The world of Bone is back for a series of short stories in Bone: Tall Tales by Jeff Smith with Tom Sniegoski. Jeff Smith's creation has been told in the original black and white versions and now the full series is out in color from Scholastic. After the release of a prequel Bone: Rose, Smith has turned to a small sequel of sorts as Tall Tales concerns four stories that Smiley Bone tells to little Ringo, Bingo, Todd and the rat creature Bartleby during a campout.
This is a fun little addition to Boneland focused on the sillier, fun side of Jeff Smith's world with almost none of the serious side of the epic tale through the original series of books. Most of the tall tales center around a new character called Big Johnson Bone, a Paul Bunyan-like character who is constantly telling tall tales as he wrecks a patch of destruction in his adventures. There is also a wordy, somewhat timid monkey named Mr. Pip (who Big Johnson won in a poker game) who is a nice counterpoint to Big Johnson's bravado. Even though the book is set after the epic series, the tall tale about Big Johnson concerns an adventure before the story in the original series. It turns out Big Johnson serves a key role in the early history of the valley when he turns back the rat creatures and rescues the forest creatures.
While there is none of the epic quality to the original series or the prequel Rose, this book does have all of the charming humor. The Queen Rat and her gigantic son Tyson are two great characters who add a bit more to the basic rat monster template of the stories. The tiny dragon Stillman is also very funny – in fact there is a whole lot of "cute" in the stories with lots of baby animals and the type of scattered chatter that Smith has done before.
It's been mentioned elsewhere that some of this material was published before although not in color. I'm not really sure if there is anymore previous Bone material for Scholastic to repackage, color and publish (I wouldn't complain it there was) but no matter what Jeff Smith and Tom Sniegoski will be bringing out next year a prose novel set in the Bone world. The novel called Quest For the Spark, will be the first of a new trilogy written by Sniegoski and illustrated by Smith.
The publisher provided a free copy to ComixTalk for review purposes.