Little Dee and the Penguin by Christopher Baldwin (InfoSoup)
Three friends head out for a quiet picnic together that will end up leading them on a wild adventure. There is an opinionated vulture, a friendly but rather slow dog, and a motherly bear. On their picnic, they meet two creatures who will change their day entirely. Little Dee is a human and a resourceful child who doesn’t speak at all. Then there is the penguin who is on the run from the polar bears who are hot on his trail. Now it is up to the five of them to get the penguin back to his home before he ends up a meal. Along the way, planes are stolen and jumped out of, wise mountain goats offer sage advice (maybe), and safety rafts become sleds. Much the same way that five unlikely characters become friends.
Baldwin has created a cast of lovable characters in this graphic novel for children. The humor is truly laugh-out-loud funny. It got to the point where I was following family members around to share one-liners from the story. In fact a large part of the success of this book is in the blend of a funny story in general and then the way that circumstances seem to invisibly line up for the perfect pun or joke with impeccable timing.
The art is wonderful too. Each character is unique and their outward appearance says a lot about their personalities. The prickly vulture is all angles. The bear is soft plush. Little Dee is a jolt of visual energy. The action is captured with a sense of fun throughout, adding to the fast pace.
A silly and very successful read, this graphic novel will be enjoyed by all. Appropriate for ages 6-9.
Reviewed from library copy.
Nobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke (InfoSoup)
Goblin lives very happily in the quiet of his rat-infested dungeon that he shares with his best friend, Skeleton. He spends the days feeding the rats, eating boots for breakfast, and playing games with the treasure. Then one day, a group of adventurers plundered the dungeon. Goblin hid but Skeleton was taken away along with everything else in the dungeon. So Goblin headed out to rescue his friend. But everywhere that Goblin went, people refused to help him and chased him away. Even once Goblin finds Skeleton, he has to find a way to escape the hordes of people and elves chasing him. Perhaps someone does like a goblin after all?
Hatke, the author of the Zita the Spacegirl series, has created another winning picture book. He uses lovely tropes from Dungeons and Dragons and turns them on their head. Here it is Goblin who is the hero and the adventurers who are the bad guys. I love the idea of these creatures having quiet and happy lives before the adventurers come and ruin it all. It’s a clever twist that makes the book enchanting to read aloud, aided by the brisk pace and clear writing.
As always, Hatke’s illustrations are exceptional. I particularly enjoy the adventurer group with their huge swords, glowing staffs and flowing locks of hair. Against them, the little goblin manages to steal your heart, thanks in large part to his diminutive size and big heart.
A perfect bedtime story for your little goblin. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from digital galley received from First Second and Netgalley.