A clever, ingenious author’s “wurst” work yet.



It’s not every book that can be trite, dull, sexist, gross, kissy, violent, nondiverse, and replete with misspellings.

Of course Gravel does it all deliberately and to such comical effect that “I’m wondering if anyone is still reading this book!” from one of the motley blobs providing reactions to each successive literary malfeasance will definitely be a rhetorical question. The storyline features a “brave prinse” named Putrick, the “beautiful prinsess” Barbarotte, a monster roaring “POOPIE PEEPEE FART BOOGER!” and a closing revelation that it was all a dream. It is played out by anthropomorphic sausages as the trio of critics (a red spider, black inkblot, and lump of what could be silly putty or perhaps a pink turd) offer individual, often conflicting takes and observations: The inkblot celebrates the potty humor, for instance, even as the silly putty (or turd) decries it, for instance. Even they don’t catch everything, though, as in the simply drawn cartoon scenes such details as the number of legs beneath Barbarotte’s gown or the message on Putrick’s shirt are subject to abrupt shifts that go unnoted, as do the decidedly gender-stereotypical decorative motifs on the final scene’s twin beds. Once they pick up what’s going on, young readers should have no trouble picking up the slack and pondering the many implications.

A clever, ingenious author’s “wurst” work yet. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 28, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77046-363-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Though classified as a graphic novelist, Delisle has claimed territory all his own as a graphic-travel memoirist.


Insightful, illuminating memoir of a year under a totalitarian regime.

In 2005-06, Delisle (Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China, 2006, etc.) accompanied his wife, who works as an administrator for Doctors Without Borders, to the country recognized by the United Nations as Myanmar. The United States and other democratic countries, however, still call it Burma, refusing to recognize the legitimacy of the military junta that seized power in 1989. As in the illustrator’s previous adventures in China and North Korea (Pyongyang, 2005), the focus is less on politics and more on the lives of the people he encounters—though such lives are profoundly shaped by politics. He comes to accept checkpoints and censorship as routine, and he does his best to find a suitable home, survive with intermittent electricity and Internet access and take care of his toddler son Louis, whose charm transcends cultural borders. The author also fears malaria, bird flu and poisonous snakes, though the DWB medical community provides more comfort than much of the Burmese citizenry enjoys. Delisle writes and illustrates a children’s booklet on HIV, an important contribution to a country in which heroin and prostitution are rampant. As in previous volumes, his eye for everyday detail combined with droll, matter-of-fact narration humanizes his 14-month experience in a country that might seem traumatic, even intolerable, in other hands. “There were no demands and no uprisings either,” he writes. “Things are always very calm here, thanks to a regime that creates paralysis by fomenting fear on a daily basis.” The undercurrents of Buddhism throughout the book culminate in his visit to a temple, where his meditation proves transformative.

Though classified as a graphic novelist, Delisle has claimed territory all his own as a graphic-travel memoirist.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-897299-50-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2008

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