Travels of Thelonious

ISBN: 0689876858
ISBN 13: 9780689876851
By: Susan Schade Jon Buller

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Adventure Animals Children Childrens Dystopian Fiction Graphic Graphic Novels Juvenile To Read

About this book

In a world of talking animals, there is one burning question: Did humans ever exist? Thelonious Chipmunk believes he has proof that they did: a postcard showing a building made of concrete and glass. But his sister thinks the postcard's just a dumb piece of paper, and that humans are only make-believe. Then one day a flash flood carries Thelonious away. When he comes to, he's in a strange world that looks something like his postcard, but not quite. Then he realizes that this is the city on his postcard, only crumbling and decaying. But if this means humans did exist, where did they go? Thelonious, along with some new friends, sets off to find out. And thus, the adventure begins!

Reader's Thoughts


In this illustrated novel (part text, part comics), Thelonious the chipmunk gets caught in a flash flood that washes through the Untamed Forest and deposits him in the bay near a post-apolcalyptic city. He doesn’t know how to get home and the tall buildings are strange and intimidating. It seems like all the animals here are talkers, and not all of them are friendly. He hears about the Dragon Lady, who has slaves. He meets Fitzgerald the porcupine, who promises to teach him to read. Together they decide to check out the mysterious bear (“Bear of the Mist” as Thelonious likes to think of her) who crash-landed in the City of Ruins and who is supposedly from the mythical Fog Mound, where a community of animals live in peace and harmony.It took a little while to get into this, but about halfway through it really picks up and becomes hard to put down. The writing is not top-notch, but it really is adequate, and the comics sections are a lot of fun and change the pace in a nice way. I honestly wouldn’t mind if the entire thing was comics; it might work better that way. It also has a great ending–it wraps up the first volume in a really satisfying way, while simultaneously and smoothly opening to the door to a sequel. I wanted to read it right away, but it’s checked out right now.And I can’t stop thinking about the tiny human! So strange..


Well, simply put, this is a great, fun series for kids. What could be better than a world in the future where humans have gone extinct and animals have evolved to have language and opposable thumbs?! They get to be the ones who doubt the evidence left on earth about humans' existence! I love how the author and illustrator use the various, interspersed chunks of graphic novel and prose format. This really seems to help the reader get through the longer reading parts and build his reading stamina, waiting for the next big payoff, that fun long chunk of graphics! It's too bad they haven't written a fourth in the series! Wonderful for 3rd grade on up!

Noah Sebastian

Mom review: Noah can consume books by the dozens, but he sticks with longer more involved picture books and prefers that i read the chapter books. I'll keep reading the chapters and want to but I want him to make the transition (I'm convinced he's going to love the concept of a long story that keeps going versus needing to pack ten Bill Peet books for the trip across town) and he seems reluctant, I'm wondering if it has to do with him not being able to hear the voices in the stories - without the pictures. This seems like a good transition - every other chapter is a graphic novel style (which Noah isn't normally taken with and he seems impartial to them here as well) but the non graphic chapters still have little pictures of Thelonious' adventures here and there on the pages, which I think makes it less intimidating. He's eating it up. Which is good because it is right up his alley; a country chipmunk venturing into the ruined, dangerous city after all the humans are gone. Bad guys to watch out for, needs to think on his feet and for himself, etc. good fodder for an invincible 7 year old.




This is the story of a chipmunk named Thelonious who clings to a postcard of tall buildings. Legends says once long ago, only humans could use language, but now there are no humans, and all animals can talk. One day Thelonious is swept off by a flood and lands in a place that looks like his postcard. Who are the other animals he meets and what can he do to return to his own home and his family?

Tara Schaafsma

Thelonious Chipmunk. But no, he's not a jazz musician. He's a talking chipmunk from the forest who gets swept downriver to the City of Ruins, where legend says humans once lived. And from there, he goes on more adventures. Very fun. I read it at the same time as my 7 and 8 year olds, who also enjoyed it, so it's not hard and doesn't take too long to get through.


A very cool and interesting book...the main character is Thelonious the Chipmunk (get it?) living in a post-apocalyptic time when the humans have destroyed most of the planet and animals have the ability to talk, wear clothes, etc. The book alternates between typical graphic novel comic strips and regular text. This made reading it a rather different and unique experience. Thelonious gets separated from his family and has many adventures along the way. I was pleasantly surprised that the book kept my interest the whole time and never felt predictable or overly simplistic. This is only the first part of the trilogy...looking forward to reading the rest.


OK- I've been reading a lot of work-related material- so when Amber brought home a book for 8-12 year olds set in a post-apocalyptic world where humans are extinct, populated by talking animals- I said what the hell, why not? It wasn't bad, but its definitely just a kids book, unlike say some of Neil Gaiman's books that can be read by adults just as easily as children (The Graveyard Book, Coraline). I do like the part straight writing part graphic novel format though. And I really think Chris Ware should be getting a cut of whatever the cover designer was paid...


This first book in a promised series is billed as “Part graphic novel, part heroic fantasy, it’s an adventure like no other!” Of course, to the discerning adult eye, this first young adult book by collaborators Schade and Buller – which alternates between graphic and traditional prose forms -- has deep roots in the post-apocalyptic sci-fi genre. Think Planet of the Apes without the raw brutality and (literal) inhumanity. Or, perhaps more accurately, a cross between Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH with the farthest-flung post-human future in H.G. Well’s The Time Machine. (But without the time-traveling.)Thelonious, the central character in Schade and Buller’s tale, is a plucky chipmunk who – by way of an accident – arrives in the ruins of a great American city, discovers relics of the past when humans (long thought to be mere legends) thrived, hitches a ride aloft the velocicopter of his mechanically-inclined porcupine friend Fitzgerald, befriends Olive the bear, and -- together with his new-found allies – arrives in the mountain-high refuge of the Fog Mound where he finds and thaws out the last known human (a scientist, as a matter of fact) from cryogenic sleep. Naturally, this ends the first book on a cliff-hanger that left me – ahem – hanging. From a mature reader’s standpoint, this is not one of those YA books that manages to transcend the genre – like almost anything by Lois Lowry, Gary Paulsen, or (more recently) Jeanne Du Prau. But this first leg of Thelonious’s journey is a cute and clever tale -- or is that tail? -- that would have made me flush with excitement if I were still in my single digits.


This book is a quick and entertaining read and follows the patterns of hero/quest stories (with a curious chipmunk as protagonist). It is in many ways a cautionary tale of the misuse and abuse of our planet and implications for the HUMAN race. I am going to read the next book in the series (a great one word cliffhanger ending in this one!). I am thinking there might be hope for humans after all in "Faradawn"...


This is the first "advanced" book that I read with my 6 year old son in the sense that he read quite a lot from it on his own with myself continuing when he got tired or to clarify things. Told as an alternating mixture of text with image chapters followed by comic like image with text chapters, the first volume in the saga of the curious talking chipmunk Thelonious and his adventures in search of the mythical human beings that used to dominate Earth a long time ago Absolutely suitable for a beginning (K-1st) reader to transition from image based books to chapter books and a very good story for 5-8 year olds. Followed by Faradawn and ending with Simon's Dream which my son devoured after this one - they are similar and you will like them as much as this one

Chinasa Izeogu

In the first book of this dystopian trilogy, Thelonious chipmunck is wisked away from his home in the Unnamed Forest and must outsmart villanous lizards and make friends with unlikely predatory animals to get home. In the City of Ruins, the animals have taken over the buildings, wear clothes, and survive on what is left since the Human Occupation. WIll Thelonious and his friends, Olive the flying bear, Fitzgerald the porcupine and the Brown lizard, a deserter of the greedy despot Dragon Lady fly safely to Fog Mountain? You'll be swept away in this part comic, part chapter book adventure.This book is a great selection for teachers to use as introductions into English and Science lessons.English concepts: language, grammar and homonyms (homophones) p. 145 (bare, bear)The animals make a distinction between talkers, using low language of grunts and growls. Teachers could discuss proper English, slang, pidgen English etc.Science concepts: hibernation, ectothermal, lichen, conservation, greenhousesThis book is a great selection to use in a book club. It's a quick read and would entertain youth ages 9 - 11.****Spoiler Alert****In this illustrated (part comic, part chapter book) dystopian tale, a young chipmunk name Thelonious discovers that the folklore he has believed in all lhis life is actually true. Thelonious Chipmunk from the Untamed Forest is wisked away down tthe river during a terrible rainstorm. He awakens at the beach in the City of Ruins and sees a bear wearing human clothing. Fearful of this obnivorous creature, Thelonious flees into the city ruins where he is approached by a shady lizard named Brown. The lizard is one of the ratsmink of the Dragon Lady, the greedy despot ruling the City of Ruins. Brown lizard almost leads Thelonious into servitude to her Ladyship, but he escapes into the sewer system.Emerging above ground again, he discovers a bookshop where Fitzgerald the porcupine lives. Fitzgerald spots him and invites him in. Thelonious is given shelter and eats his first human food: canned peaches. Fitzgerald learns of Thelonious's plight to return to the Untamed Forest and vows to help in any way possible. With the help of Fitzgerald's friend Wally the porcupine, they learn about the flying bear named Olive. She is from the Fog Mound. She crashed in the City of Ruins, but has a velocicopter, which she plans to use to return home. She offers to take Thelonious home.Thelonious is apprehensive but then he spots the lizard who has been eavesdropping. He knows it only a matter of time before the Dragon Lady invades the hanger and steals the velocicopter for herself. He agrees to fly home.Unfortunately, the attack comes before they are prepared and they make a hasty get-a-way leaving Olive's sister's journal and the maps she drew of the area and of the secret passageway into fog mountain. The building catches fire and Olive hopes the sensitive documents were burned before the ratminks saw it.On the journey home. Thelonious discovers a stowaway. The Brown lizard has climbed aboard to escape the Dragon Lady. Thelonious gets home, but decides to go on to Fog Mound with Olive, Fitzgerald and Brown. As they approach Fog Mound they are attacked by Eagles who drop stones on the velocicopter in an attempt to protect their nest. The travels crash into a tree and are unable to repair their aircraft. They continue on their journey piecing together the directions to find the secret passageway into the Fog Mound. They narrowly escape the fog and emerge in the basement of Olive's house. They discover a frozen human scientist who they dethaw.Olive's friends settle in to life on the Mound.


I couldn't decide if this should get 3 or 4 stars. I decided on 4 because it was very readable, the story moved seamlessly between illustrations and text, and I immediately picked up the second book in the series because I wanted more. My hesitation stems from the start of the book: it was only in the last half of the book that I felt fully immersed in the story.The story itself has some troubling social commentary; I'm not sure if the authors were intentional in this commentary. The story is set in the future, in a post-human era, when some animals have evolved to speaking, wearing clothes, and adopting the tools, food, and shelters that remain from the human era. Those animals that have not adopted these human conventions are perceived to be lesser beings as evidenced by terms like "low language" to describe growls, grunts, and other animal sounds. This hierarchy reinforces the status of humans as superior since human-like living/behaviors are idealized and seen as desirous by most characters. (view spoiler)[As the story progresses, we learn that some humans created ecosystems and species' mutations to create utopic spaces for these animals, free of the carnage of predator-prey relationships. In this aspect, the story reminds me of Lois Lowry's "The Giver" or even Margaret Atwood's "Oryx and Crake" trilogy, the only difference is the advanced species isn't humans but a menagerie of animals who all know their role in society and are obliging to the rules without ever questioning them. Like Atwood's Crakers, these creatures seem to be focused on their most immediate needs (food, shelter) and are unable to question apparent inequities in society. Further, both ecosystems have been created by a human whose apparent God-like foresight allowed this "perfect" community to be created and exist in harmony. I kept hoping Thelonious, an outsider invited to live in this utopic space, would realize the limitations of life on the Fog Mound, but when he finally does leave, I'm not sure if it was because he missed the autonomy he had before or because he had succumbed to the proselytizing.The authors challenge this hierarchy from time to time, as in this scene between Thelonious and Jenny, a bird, in the second book: "Did Mary (a human) make genetic changes in the birds so they could speak?" "Why would she do that?" Jenny asked. "Birds could always speak. Mary just taught them the human language." This passage - among others - suggests that this human-centric/human-as-savior perspective shouldn't be blindly accepted. I just wish there were more of them as they are the real gems in the book. I look forward to reading the final book in the trilogy.(hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

Cleo Berninger

I keep wanting to write something fantastically pithy about much I like this book. After putting this off for more than a week it is time to face a fact that I'm not going to take the time to do it. So, just read it, OK? It's good, really good and a sneaky way to infiltrate young minds on some dang good thinking. Buy a copy for your young reader friends and family.


I saw this book recommended in someone's review of Hugo Cabret, so I got it through inter-library loan. I wanted to enjoy it, but I felt like the story was thin. There isn't a lot of dramatic tension, and there certainly isn't much compelling in the way of dialogue. The chapters alternate between comic book style (aka graphic novel) and prose with some illustration. That part is well done - the transition is always very smooth. But while this is the first in a trilogy, I have no desire to read the others. It's not that it's bad, it's just not very interesting.

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