A young taekwondo student deals with bullying in this all-animal graphic-novel offering co-published by the American Taekwondo Association.
Young tiger Baeoh finds himself the target of a trio of lunch-stealing jackals who pick on him outside of class. While his fellow animal students clearly know what’s going on, he stubbornly denies it, lying about his vulnerability and refusing help. Ironically, he also fails to see his own bullying treatment of his new training partner, an intellectual bear named Karhu, until other students point it out to him and even Karhu stands up to Baeoh. The story climaxes on Buddy Day; Baeoh’s lies have obliged him to invite the jackals, and Baeoh finally takes his own stand in a brief physical confrontation. The character designs feature large heads, bold lines, and animated expressions—though some readers may struggle to differentiate among the jackals and continuity is occasionally inconsistent. Overall, though, the full-color art does a good job at providing visual narration, especially in demonstrating brown-belt cobra Narsha’s legless tail “kicks.” Profiles in the backmatter give a rundown on all Team Taekwondo members. Befitting taekwondo’s origins, they all seem to have Korean names. They speak colloquial English, and other characters have Western names.
Any heavy-handedness in the application of the moral is balanced by youthful art and the emphasis on confidence and respect. (Graphic fantasy. 6-10)