Page 45 Review by Stephen
Well, that's a cool cover, isn't it? Full of narrative, and once you've read what's inside you'll understand how well composed it is too. You'll be seeing a little more of that Arctic Fox right at the beginning and right at the end of the first chapter.
The lovely, loose line art and wet-wash colours are both provided by Tyler Jenkins who leaves plenty of space for the white Arctic light to shine through. The style and palette's identical on the inside, and there's a tremendous sense of movement whether someone's rising from a chair with their weight on the table, striding through a door without careful consideration as to who's on the other side, smacking a tree trunk with bare fists in frustration / anger or, umm... look out --- !
Thanks to those washes there's a sodden, weighted-down feel to the coniferous pines even when they're not laden with snow. Plus there's a particularly fine shot, from behind knees, of a guard dog challenging an intruder with well developed calf muscles.
She or he isn't the only intruder. Teenage Teddy Ruffins seems to make a habit of breaking and entering throughout.
"After last time, my Dad asked me why I broke into a library of all places.
"I didn't answer.
"I didn't tell him that sometimes I feel like a stranger in my own home. That I felt more comfortable around the pages of dead authors than I do my own parents."
That's because those books are telling you things, Teddy. Your parents are - and have been all your life - a lot less communicative.
They moved up from Louisiana to Alaska when Teddy was a baby. Teddy never thought to ask why, and they certainly never told him. This trait appears to have been absorbed because Teddy's no communicator, either. He doesn't get on with the local lads because he believes they don't like him unless he bribes their company with a case of beer stolen from his Dad. He's just done that at a BBQ his Dad's throwing for friends.
"But as the alcohol took hold, I felt like I had something to prove. To them... and to my Dad. So when he got passed-out drunk, like he always did, I figured... If I have to be here, I might as well have some fun at his expense. I was finally being "one of the guys"."
That's what he overheard his Dad tell his Mom: that he wished Teddy would be "just one of the guys".
So he paints his passed-out Dad with lipstick and paps a snap, sharing it on social media adding: "Dad's definitely the prettiest girl at the party. Maybe he should run for Miss Louisiana next year?"
Far from surprisingly, Teddy's Dad is furious. But it's not because Teddy had mocked his masculinity specifically; it's because he's done it all over the internet, the worldwide web where anyone anywhere can see it. It's not a pride thing, it's a privacy thing. And I wouldn't say it went viral but it went viral enough and now maybe it will become clearer to Teddy why they're in Alaska and can never go home. Maybe it will become clearer to Teddy's parents that you should always communicate, especially under circumstances like theirs, in the age of the internet.
Bravo to writer Ollie Masters: there's more breaking and entering yet zero increase in communication: leopards/spots, habits of a lifetime etc. Over and over again assumptions will be formed in absence of the truth being told, and this will have you screaming at everyone not just to have a word with themselves, but with each other.
By this I mean: Teddy has been lied to by his parents all his life. They don't know that he knows that because since he found out he's been lying to them. Finally he gives them the opportunity to tell him the truth and maybe they do and maybe they don't. But Teddy's going to presume that they're still lying and continue to lie to them while he gets to the truth of the matter himself. The truth of a matter which he exposes by mistake and which he will now make a great deal worse.
Partly because he's jumped to one wrong conclusion after another, and is now about to jump to many more, tripping himself over, down the storytelling stairs.
Here he's decided to track down the original intruder by asking around in a bad part of town.
"If he'd any sense he wouldn't be laying low in the nice part of town... He'd be in the parts of town where being nosy gets it broken."
Self-knowledge and self-guidance do not communicate with each other in young Teddy's head.
This really is a complete and utter car crash. Every pun intended.