A middle school–age bear has a tough week.
Tucker Grizzwell, a lovable grizzly sixth-grader, lives with his perpetually-in-curlers mama, Flora, his food-loving papa, Gunther, and his bespectacled, boy-crazy sister, Fauna. The Grizzwells live in a large treehouse in a friendly wood, much like another famous literary bear family, although Tucker’s family is more realistically messy and skips the generous dollops of didacticism. Told day by day in tidy comic-strip vignettes laden with puns and one-liners, Tucker’s week goes from bad to worse as he faces crushes, bullies, barf, and report cards. With a cast of characters reminiscent of Walt Kelly’s Pogo’s, the Grizzwells evoke a certain nostalgia and portray a somewhat outdated familial ideal: the mother stays at home, the father has a vague-sounding job, and they seem to be comfortably middle-class. However, Schorr and Smith’s anthropomorphic populace retains a comfortably homespun feel, and their retro-tinged lens is tempered by some modern flourishes such as smartphones and video games. Expect this chuckle-rich yarn to appeal to a wide array of readers ranging from Sunday-comics aficionados (there are particular nods to Garfield and Calvin and Hobbes) to those who have grown up with the Berenstain Bears to fans of Jeff Kinney’s Greg Heffley.
For fans of the funny papers—and goodness knows, there are many. (Graphic fiction. 7-12)