REVIEW: Penny Dora and the Wishing Box #1

Written by Michael Stock
Art by Sina Grace
Published by Image Comics
Release date: November 5, 2014

Inspired by a story written by his then eight year old daughter, Michael Stock’s Penny Dora and the Wishing Box debuts with a strong and touching first issue that should appeal to a large audience.

The book follows a young girl named Penny Dora, who lives with her mother in a typical subdivision in Cuesta Verde, California where every house looks exactly the same. Every street, house, and room has been carefully planned by the developers to be identical. Similarly, Penny Dora’s life is also nothing out of the ordinary – her parents are divorced, she lives at home with her mother and cat, Iggy, and does typical girl things – until one Christmas morning when she receives a mysterious box. Penny and her mom believe the box is a Christmas present from Penny’s father, but both surprised and disappointed to find nothing but an old, decrepit, empty box. Penny’s mom suggest she throw the box away, but she decides to keep it, still believing it to be a gift from her father whom she obviously loves unconditionally.

PD1Sc1 I wasn’t expecting to enjoy Penny Dora and The Wishing box as much as I did, because I felt like the subject matter was so off from my interests, but I could not put this book down. Stock does a terrific job writing this book and really nails the family dynamics. I wonder how much of that comes from his own personal experiences, but the execution is nearly flawless.

You won’t find any of the typical comic book fair you may be used to in this book, but rather a touching coming of age tale as told from the viewpoint of a child. Much of this book reminds me of 80s childrens’ films such as the Never Ending Story, and the Labyrinth in their honest presentation and level of imagination. While we still don’t know what truly lives in the box, this is shaping up to be a terrific fantasy tale that everyone can enjoy – I read this issue to my four year old daughter this week as an experiment and she loved it.

Sina Grace’s art is simple yet beautiful. There is so much detail and emotion behind every stroke, that it was easy to concentrate on the story without being distracted by the art. This is definitely Grace’s most polished work to date, and a big leap forward from what we’ve seen in his Li’l Depressed Boy series.

Penny Dora and the Wishing Box #1 is one of the most touching and heartfelt books I’ve read in years. The book works on many levels and has a little bit for people of all ages to enjoy. If you’re looking for a book that will take you back to your childhood, and you can read along with your kids, then this is definitely a solid choice, and I look forward to the second issue.

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