A sweet treat. More, please! (Picture book. 4-7)

READ REVIEW

ANNA BANANA AND THE CHOCOLATE EXPLOSION

From the Anna Banana series

Anna and her six extremely animate toy animals are back—this time, for an ultimately collaborative adventure in the kitchen.

Pingpong the penguin announces, “Anna, I’m as hungry as a bear.” When Anna offers a lesson on baking a chocolate cake, everyone’s in. In a double-page spread, Anna directs each animal to fetch ingredients stowed all around the kitchen. The action—and plenty of it—unfolds in Dormal’s soft-colored mixed-media panels, with Roques' dialogue in bubbles. Grizzler claims that he’d “rather bake by myself, in the living room.” Meanwhile, Fuzzball’s untutored way with utensils and the batter—“SPLAT! SPLAT! SPLAT!”—gives rise to a wayward swing, an airborne, ricocheting bowl, and a stupendous detonation of chocolate that spares no critter or surface. Grizzler interrupts the escalating squabbles by entering the kitchen with a perfectly baked cake, and when he heads off to make another, skeptical Anna and the animals follow him—to the village bakery. Lesson learned (don’t cheat to impress), Grizzler rejoins the others as they complete their deliciously cooperative venture and share the fresh-from-the-oven result. Mother-and-son team Roques and Dormal deliver another comics-driven mix of gentle instruction and giggle-inducing visuals.

A sweet treat. More, please! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 16, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62672-020-6

Page Count: 28

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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A sweet introduction to sequential art.

BLIP!

What happens if your spaceship crash-lands on an alien planet and your vocabulary happens to be very limited?

A cute-looking, backpack-carrying robot in stylish red boots finds itself stuck on an alien planet when a “Bang! Bang! / Bang! Bang!” sends it scurrying. The story that ensues is told in a simplified comic-book format of one or two panels per page and the occasional double-page spread. The little robot has a vocabulary that consists mainly of one word: “Blip.” Uttered as a statement, a question, or an exclamation, the word is always in a speech bubble, as the form dictates. As the robot wanders along using its one word with the creatures it encounters, it finds itself in all sorts of situations, from the scary to the bewildering. Richards’ dynamic page composition will keep readers engaged, and his very expressive little robot will keep them rooting for a happy ending. Along the way readers will find plenty of details to catch their eyes. Not everything is as it looks. In the end the robot returns to its ship only to find a skirt-wearing robot in stylish orange boots busily fixing its own ship. The happiness they both experience upon finding another of their own kind is expressed in one big and satisfying mutual “BLIP!” While kids won’t pick up much vocabulary, it’s hard to imagine a better lesson in how to read the format.

A sweet introduction to sequential art. (Graphic early reader. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-935179-98-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: TOON Books & Graphics

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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Playful, friendly, goodhearted fun.

DEWDROP

The axolotl-cheerleader picture book you didn’t know you were waiting for.

Dewdrop is an anthropomorphic axolotl whose friends are preparing for an underwater “sports festival.” Only Mia, “a weightlifting turtle,” seems involved in any sportsmanship, though, preparing rigorously for a “pebble-throwing contest.” Newman, a newt, is writing “a song to cheer everyone on,” and three minnows are “in charge of food.” As for Dewdrop, the pink, frilled amphibian is “working hard on a cheerleading routine.” While the routine may be intended for contenders in the sports festival, Dewdrop ends up cheering on the other characters as they engage in their own preparations. Dewdrop’s encouraging presence helps them fend off worries and self-doubts. The text in this graphic-novel picture book is delivered via speech balloons, and the cheery comics-style illustrations with their big-eyed characters will capture readers’ attention; Dewdrop is adorable (almost) to the point of twee. Though anthropomorphic, these characters go largely unclothed save Mia’s flower-bedecked sweatband. The underwater setting is mostly cued by gently waving lake plants, though the postures of the minnows as they cook (in impossible cauldrons, but no matter) do give a sense of buoyancy. Although axolotls occur only in Mexico, characterizations are generically normative, with no sense of ethnic distinctiveness.

Playful, friendly, goodhearted fun. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62010-689-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Oni Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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