An all-new Bill the Cat origin story helps relaunch Bloom County.
Eight years after Pete & Pickles (2008), Breathed’s last picture book, the cartoonist returns to well-trod material in what seems to be the hope of attracting the attention of parents who grew up with his comic strip. In search of a best friend, a white boy named Binkley instantly bonds with a kitty at the Pedigree Schmedigree Animal Shelter. Unfortunately, Bill is already bound for a life as a sled cat in the snowy North Pole. From there, he wanders the globe with little logic, making his mark on the megafauna of the savanna, cat worshippers, and earthling-abducting extraterrestrials, until he is finally delivered to his waiting boy. The scene periodically shifts to a lonely Binkley and Opus the penguin. Filled with copious visual gags and an all-white cast (even, apparently, the cat worshippers that build like the Egyptians and dress in stereotypical Middle Eastern garb), the book is an extended ode to Bloom County as a “Simpler Time, Kinder Place.” As a product, the book has a frantic energy that makes it a perfectly decent gift for those adults who have long missed the antics of Binkley, Opus, and the rest, but it will mean little and be of even less interest to actual child readers.
As Bill the Cat would say, “Ack.” (Picture book. 4-8)