Storytelling Is Not Dead: Graphic Novel Review – Sparks!

Please check out my previous Storytelling posts here.  And my 365 Reviews here.

Heading back to my roots this week and offering up some reviews of great graphic novels for Teen Read Week.  I might be a week late, but the celebration never ends!

Title: Sparks!   

Author(s): Ian Boothby & Nina Matsumoto

Publisher: Scholastic (2018)

Age Rating: All Ages

Yoooooooo!  Sparks! is the book that your kids have been waiting for!

Written by Ian Boothby, writer of The Simpsons, Futurama, and The Powerpuff Girls comics; and drawn by Nina Matsumoto, who has drawn comics for The Simpsons and The Last Airbender, you know this book is going to be fire!

I love a great, fun, funny kids book, and this is just that.  I’ve preached in the past about just how difficult it is to write comedy for comics; the timing is such a unique beast that you need a keen sense of what’s funny, how people read, AND how to write a joke that does not require physical time, BUT if you do write a joke that requires physical time in the story on the page, you also need to know how to play that out on the page (sorry if this is a bit confusing…the whole discussion of physical time; what I mean is actual time passing, which a writer or artist cannot control since the reader is in charge of at what pace they read).  It’s bonkers!  And I love folks that can do it well.  This book does it well!

Kids and adults alike will be chuckling at this read, and Matsumoto’s visual gags compliment Boothby’s writing in superb ways, adding well-placed punctuation marks to the text.  The art of Matsumoto is also colorful and simple with solid lines, heavy black boarders, and plenty of gutters to help younger readers of graphic novels follow the pages with ease.

Not only is this book honestly funny, but the story is refreshingly original: two cats, August and Charlie, want to fight crime, but realize that people like dogs waaaay more, so they create a super-dog suit that they both control from inside of the dog.  And with the help of a robot kitty-litter box, they use the suit to help humanity!

The cats are a dysfunctional pair; they come from a storied, terrifying past, but together, they work through their differences and find the strength to fight in the face of hardship and fear.  Just like yesterday’s tale, this book is filled with positive messages and lessons for readers of all ages.

Happy reading!


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