Toby, an 8-year-old white boy, fancies himself quite the comedian…most disagree.
Toby lives with his parents and younger sister, Zaza, and goes to school with his friends like any regular kid, but he loves to drive adults crazy with his behavior and his cheek. When his teacher asks him why he is standing on his chair, Toby responds that she told him to sing higher. When his mother buys him high-quality but ugly clothes for school, she tells Toby it’s so they will last longer; he assures her they will since he will never wear them. His friends amuse Toby. During a torrential downpour, Toby tells a friend that he should stay overnight; the boy vanishes, comes back dripping wet, and tells Toby he had to run home to get his pajamas to stay the night. Girard’s Toby, who has been around in his native France for 15 years, is a precocious, bratty smart-aleck that young readers will wish they could emulate (without getting in trouble) as they giggle over these illustrated one-liners and short jokes—there is no sustained narrative to speak of here. Messy, heavy-lined, color comics and illustrated pages resemble James Proimos’ and are full of slapstick overreactions: Toby’s victims usually fall over so only their feet are in the reaction panel.
The jokes will be new to the target audience, and they will likely want more after they’ve been released from timeout for acting like Toby. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 7-10)