Cover image for Cast away on the letter A : a Philemon adventure
Cast away on the letter A : a Philemon adventure
Fred, 1931-2013., author, illustrator.
Uniform Title:
Philémon et le naufragé du A. English
Publication Information:
New York, NY : TOON Books, an imprint of Candlewick Press, [2014]
Physical Description:
45 pages : color illustrations, color maps ; 27 cm.
"Young dreamer Philemon lives in the countryside, until one day he falls down a well and finds himself in a parallel world of islands that form the letters of the word Atlantic Ocean. Together with the strange characters he meets there, Philemon must find his way home"--
General Note:
Originally published in French by Dargaud in 1972 under title: Philémon et le naufragé du A.

Maps on lining pages.
Reading Level:
GN 240 Lexile.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Childrens Area

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On YALSA's Great Graphic Novels for Teens 2015 List

On an ordinary day in the countryside, Philemon falls into a well on his father's farm and lands... in the Atlantic Ocean?! He begins a wild and whimsical journey through a fantasy world as original as Alice's Wonderland, as richly imagined as Little Nemo's Slumberland, and as exciting to explore as Oz.

Author Notes

Frédéric Othon Aristidès (1931-2013), known as Fred, is one of France's most influential and revered cartoonists. When he was young, he loved to read Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, and Oscar Wilde. In the sixties, Fred co-founded Hara-Kiri, the leading satirical publication of the May '68 movement--he designed its first 60 covers. Philémon, his story for young readers, was first published in Pilote in 1972 by René Goscinny, the author of the Astérix series.Philémon is Fred's most celebrated creation: millions of young French people have grown up with it, and it has inspired many of today's most talented cartoonists. The sixteenth and final volume of Philémon was released in 2013, before Fred's passing.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Philemon was originally published in the 1960s in the same French magazine as Asterix, and now TOON is introducing the fantasy comic to an American audience. Philemon is a daydreamy kid who tumbles into a well, only to find that it empties onto a magical island where anything can happen. Bottles sprout on trees, clocks erupt from the ground, and cottages grow like plants. When he meets Mr. Bartholomew, Philemon learns he is on the A, the first letter of the Atlantic emblazoned on world maps everywhere. After a few odd and pun-filled adventures, Mr. Bartholomew and Philemon finally find their way off the A, but before they can both make their escape, Philemon is slurped back through his well to find his disgruntled father impatiently waiting for him. Fred's small panels are densely packed with swirling lines, elaborate tableaux, and cartoonish figures, all in a rich, jewel-tone palette. Combining the line work of Herge's Tintin with Dr. Seuss' wacky figure style, this offbeat adventure story should be a great fit for middle-­grade comic-book fans.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

There's another French comics artist as accomplished as Asterix illustrator Albert Uderzo. Translated into English here for the first time, this 1972 work from Fred (Frédéric Othon Aristidès) offers visual and conceptual fireworks as an enterprising farmer's son named Philemon dives into a well and washes up on an island. He soon discovers that it is the A of the word Atlantic in the Atlantic Ocean as seen on every map; among its flora and fauna are bottle-bearing trees, shipwreck-causing lamps, and a mind-boggling house that grows like a plant. But, the furniture? asks Philemon. It grows by itself, explains his new companion, Bartholomew. Everything becomes more and more luxurious. The conversation between Philemon and his companions tends to plod: Bartholomew blusters and repeats himself, and his centaur butler, Friday, comes off less as sardonic than merely grumpy. Yet Fred's drafting and visual storytelling skills are exceptional (he published 16 Philemon titles before his death in 2013). Working out how to get off the island brings fresh invention, and there's even a magnificent parody of Géricault's The Raft of the Medusa. Fans of Franco-Belgian comics will be both delighted and inspired. Ages 8--12. (Sept.)– (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Review

GR 4-6-When young farm boy Philemon Is Sent To Fetch Water From The Well,he finds a mysterious bottled message floating at the bottom. Curious, he investigates the well, only to fall in. When he resurfaces, he finds himself marooned on an "A"-shaped deserted island with all sorts of strange creatures and plant life. Now stranded, he must rely on a hermit named Mr. Bartholomew and his centaur butler, Friday, to not only survive the island, but find a way back home. Modern audiences may find this book, originally published in 1972, a little odd, but fans of fantasy and adventure classics, such as Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth, will feel right at home. Fred's surreal and dreamlike drawings really bring the world to life, and his attention to detail is evident on every page. Vivid, psychedelic colors make the illustrations pop and match the mood of the crazy world that he has created. Back matter includes notes about the various allusions made to other texts and artwork. Published for the first time in the United States, this work is a good additional purchase for those looking to build their graphic novel collections for middle graders.- Peter Blenski, Greenfield Public Library, WI (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.