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Hits smack on the funny bone.

The exciting adventures of a boy and his talking elbow.

Taking a daffy premise and running with it in notably surreal directions, Kochalka’s episodic comic features a very serious boy (“I wear a tie. See?”), an elbow that develops a mind of its own following a painful bump, breakfast cereal superhero Soupy Boy Action Man, and a toy truck that is evil…or maybe not. “I’m more like the true ESSENCE of your elbow,” explains the disembodied joint, floating in front of the bewildered lad’s face. “My punches are action packed. America is so proud of me,” boasts the plastic action figure. “HONK HONK,” beeps the truck enigmatically. A few freakouts at home and school, followed by a quick dive into the Backpack of Solitude to escape a visit with the principal, lead the bendy lad into and out of escalating calamities culminating in a multi-joint surprise ending. If Jimmy’s grave observation that “every boy needs an elbow” seems at first glance to be the takeaway, readers primed for nothing but laffs may be in for a surprise, as the author folds quick takes on “silly” vs. “serious”—not to mention life, death, spiritual apotheosis, and what it means to be “made in America”—into the manic proceedings. Jimmy, his elbow, and his action figure (“Made in Hong Kong. But I’m 100% American now”) are pink-skinned.

Hits smack on the funny bone. (Graphic fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2024

ISBN: 9781603095419

Page Count: 168

Publisher: Top Shelf Productions

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2024

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A hamster with an irritating lack of social skills fails to alienate a cast of small woodland creatures in this strange import. Looking more like an undersized koala in Martin’s simply drawn scenes, Hamster opens with a wish that “in the heavens and on earth [a]ll will praise an extraordinary hamster,” then goes on to explain in his diary how much everyone adores him, to disinvite Rabbit to his birthday party, to blow off a shy confession from Mole and so on—until at the culminating party he takes a bow after belittling everyone’s gifts. Meanwhile, the animals gather to mull such Big Questions as whether worms can shed tears of joy. Within each of her large sequential panels, the illustrator surrounds small figures with generous quantities of flat, uniformly colored green ground and blue sky, punctuated by the occasional tree or shrub. All that wide-open space focuses attention on the dialogue, which sometimes offers insights into the character of each member of the cast but too often falls flat: “Squirrel…a nut. Just one? Hmmm, not so great, so let’s just forget about it.” Yes, let’s. (Graphic picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 20, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59270-093-6

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2010

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The dream phantasms of a high-spirited narrator intersect, even crowd, reality, but the stream-of-consciousness text makes for a rambling, radically personal tale. Playful images of a stuffed lion, trampoline, purple shoes, and a cat named Pine-Cone take hold in a young girl’s imagination, despite her “old” mother who makes her go to bed when she’d rather “stay up early” and a big sister with a cranky disposition. At home, she likes counting flea bites and pretending to be a worm, but is afraid of the dark and going to Grade One. The second half of the book takes off in a separate first-day-of school direction. Wild dreams precede the big day, which includes bullies on the playground and instant friend Chelsea. The childlike articulations of the text are endearing, but not quite of universal interest, and don’t add up to a compelling story; children may more readily warm to Gay’s illustrations, which include a dreamlike flying cat, a menacing hot dog, and an uproarious stuffed toy looming over everyday domestic scenes. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 1999

ISBN: 1-55143-107-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1999

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