Francis the donkey, a shoemaker, learns about life beyond his village when he ventures into the jungle to get wild tiger grass to make the perfect pair of shoes.
Francis uses only the finest materials to make his shoes: coconut wood, goat wool, and wild tiger grass. He sources these from other animals in his village. One day Francis gets a special request from a client and personal hero, the calypso musician Miss Manatee. However, Francis realizes he is out of tiger grass and his monkey friend Nigel, who usually provides it, is nowhere to be found. So Francis sets out with parrot friend Rhoda and some animal guidebooks to the jungle from which Nigel usually gets the grass. An educational journey ensues, with Francis meeting all types of animals, from the gregarious capybara to the seemingly terrifying jaguar. Most of the animals are helpful and show him that many animals are not as scary as they seem once you get to know them. Varon complements the friendly cartoon animals with which she populates her graphic adventure with lovely reference photos in the back, which help to connect the drawings with real life. The dialogue effortlessly adds humor to the informational snippets in the text; a moment when a jaguar, wild hog, and howler monkey chuckle over their entries in Francis’ guidebook is hilarious.
A quick, informative, and overall good-hearted graphic tale that will have readers pausing to take in the colorful artistic details. (Graphic fantasy. 8-12)