The tag line from that old TV series The A-Team sprang to mind when I came across Band Of Innocence, ‘I love it when a plan comes together’. It is not so much a book as a movement. Both Robert Agnello and illustrator Lou Manna have a clear picture of what they are attempting to achieve. I for one am astounded and delighted by their creative ideas.

Before I get completely off track, let me tell you about the book. With such a plethora of entertainment avenues available to children (of all ages) today, the lowly book has taken a back seat. The graphic novel has gone some way to bridge the gap. Using pictures and only a relatively short dialog a story can be told.

I can do no better job of describing Band Of Innocence than by quoting from the back cover:

In the beginning Mother Nature and the Gods created the Earth and filled it with life… the elements, plants, and animals. Then they created man and all lived in Harmony

As time passed a shadow invaded the world. A darkness. This shadow caused man to separate from the original, harmonious ways the Gods had intended for him

Seeing that man was turning towards the darkness, rather than the light of the world, the Gods hid their powers in an amulet along with a sword of light and a suit of armor that only the most innocent could wear. It was an innocence that could only be found in children.

Yes our Band Of Innocence are superheroes with a variety of super powers. But their foes are not evil creatures of the nether world, but the ignorance of mankind as we wantonly destroy the planet.

I am by no means a ‘tree hugger’, living off organic nuts and berries, but I am concerned about how we treat our home. The Earth is our Hotel, and we are its guests. Yet we show little respect for this privilege.

I am sure that many of you have have been following the tragic story out of West Virginia concerning the coal mine disaster. At least two dozen hard working men have lost their lives. This disaster got me thinking about the other type of coal recovery done in the area, Mountain Top removal, and that is literally what they do! This changes the area permanently. Satellite imagery shows the effect we are having. Or look at what we have done to the rain forests? And how many animal species have we driven to the point of extinction?

Robert Agnello wants to change the way the world operates, talking to adults has clearly not worked, but maybe if we can get children behind the cause, it can have an effect.

I mentioned earlier that they have a plan. I think it would be appropriate to talk about some of their ideas. Band Of Innocence is just the first of a planned series of Graphic Novels. They chose to print it in black and white, at first this may seem an odd direction to take, but there is a reason. They are inviting readers to color a page of the book and send them a copy. The best ones will then be used in a limited edition, and the winners names will appear on ‘their page’. I think this is one of the most creative ideas I have heard in a very long time. What child would not want to see their work in print?

I am 54, and I still get a kick out of seeing my name mentioned in a book!

In what I think is a very interesting idea, the authors have released a series of cookery books to compliment the story. There are seven in total, one for each of the child superheroes. I have seen one of them, and once again I was greatly impressed. The recipes are child friendly and healthy. You might just be able to get Joey to eat his green beans with it!

The authors also made a great decision with the cook book series, they built them rugged. I love to cook, and I like to think that I am quite good, but I am hard on my toys. These books are spiral bound, which makes them perfect for the kitchen! No need to break the spine of the book trying to keep it open  on the counter with pots pans or other sundry heavy objects.

I am hoping to interview Robert Agnello in the near future. He might just be onto something with his ideas.

Band Of Innocence is a hard book to explain what age range it is aimed at. The illustrations and text lead me to believe 8 and 80! But it is possible that it might appeal to younger readers.

You can order your copy of Band Of Innocence from Amazon by clicking on the link above.

There is also a Band Of Innocence website . Childrens Literature is the one genre of books where the recipient is generally not the purchaser. Mom and Dad have to flash the cash. I don’t think that Mom or Dad would be disappointed in their kids having a copy of Band Of Innocence.

Simon Barrett

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