Salt Water Taffy (The Seaside Adventures of Jack and Benny)
Book 1: The Legend of Old Salty
by Matthew Loux
Reviewed by Kailyn Kent
If you are ready for vacation, read these books now: Salt Water Taffy is one of those series that carries summer in its pages.
"The Legend of Old Salty" is the first account of brothers Jack and Bennys’ summer break on the coast of Maine. It captures the spirit of family trips from the get-go. The brothers’ soon find that their summer retreat is very mysterious—and home to the creatures of old American tall tales. The author and artist, Matthew Loux, really honors what we readers want. While he could have explained the strange occurrences with normal causes, he instead explores the reality of myths.
The artwork is beautiful, especially the backgrounds, and he draws people stylistically. His action scenes are well developed and easy to follow. And as for the writing, the dialogue is very funny. Only at one point is the story condescending, or parent-y, when it portrays videogames negatively. This is really common in a lot of books. However, the author handles this well, and even though one character loses interest in his video games mid-way, it’s because he discovers what he looks for in videogames: adventure. Plus, the father seems pretty intrigued by the gameboy in the end. The author is truly respectful of the kids’ judgment and personalities, and the siblings are well balanced too. Where the youngest is enthusiastic and observant, the eldest is determined and very funny. They are accompanied by a wonderful sailor character who introduces them to the legends of the coastline.
What is amazing about the Salt Water Taffy books is that even though these siblings see fantastical things, it never stops reminding you of what summer vacation feels like. It reminds you of all the magic here inside the world we live in—and especially inside our summer breaks.
About the Reviewer:
Kailyn Kent is student at Carleton College in Minnesota, production intern for Nickelodeon Magazine for Winter 2009 and the creator of the comic series "Poison People". You can view her work on her blog at kailynkent.blogspot.com.