Review: Things in the Basement by Ben Hatke

Posted November 27, 2023 by Richetta in CYBILS Awards Nominee, Graphic Novel / 0 Comments

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Review: Things in the Basement by Ben HatkeThings in the Basement by Ben Hatke
Published by First Second on August 29, 2023
Genres: Juvenile Fiction / Comics & Graphic Novels / Action & Adventure, Juvenile Fiction / Comics & Graphic Novels / Horror, Juvenile Fiction / Comics & Graphic Novels / Paranormal
Pages: 240
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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From New York Times bestselling author Ben Hatke comes Things in the Basement, a young readers graphic novel about Milo, a young boy who discovers a portal to a secret world in his basement.

It was supposed to just be a normal basement—some storage boxes, dust, you know, the usual basement stuff. But when Milo is sent by his mother to fetch a sock from the basement of the historic home they've moved into, Milo finds a door in the back that he's never seen before. Turns out that the basement of his house is enormous. In fact, there is a whole world down there. As Milo travels ever deeper into the Basement World, he meets the many Things that live in the shadows and gloom...and he learns that to face his fears he must approach even the strangest creatures with kindness.

book cover of things in the basement

Were you the kind of kid who saw the basement as scary or as a an opportunity for adventure? My basement had a little of both for me. There were dark corners, but also extensions that required exploring by my young adventurous self. Things in the Basement by Ben Hatke is the perfect book for two kinds of kids – the scared ones and the adventurous ones.

Now there is a caveat about reading this as someone who gets scared easily… There are some strange and creepy looking creatures in this basement and I’m not even talking about the rats! The main character Milo is tasked with finding a handmade baby sock for his baby sister so that she will take a nap. Have you ever heard of the sock monster? As an adult with three little kids I am quite familiar with that diabolical creature.

CYBILS Graphic Novel Judge

Anywho! Milo is sent on a mission by his mother to find the sock and ends up on an epic adventure! One where each door he opens is a portal that takes him deeper into the basement and the earth itself. I love how each room has a different aesthetic to it that occasionally hints at a different time period.

Along the way Milo picks up a few friends and has to escape a monster. All while chasing a rat who has stolen his baby sister’s sock! I loved how the author played with the silence that would occur in real life if you were creeping quietly through a creepy basement. The lack of words at the beginning before he encounters anyone lend to the suspense that you might feel if you were in that situation.

Things in the Basement also touches on themes of friendship, courage and perseverance. Milo encounters moments when many would want to give up an go back to what is comfortable, abandoning any mission. But he is challenged to think about what and who is important during his journey.

A great book for spooky season! Also great for any super imaginative child who really does wonder what worlds may lay behind hidden doors.

This book is a CYBILS Awards nominee. My review reflects my personal opinions and not the opinion of the CYBILS graphic novels panel.

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