Saturday, May 15, 2021

Cartoon Saturday- Pawcasso and Fearless

Lai, Remy. Pawcasso
May 11th 2021 by Henry Holt BYR (Macmillan) 
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Jo lives in a walkable town with her big sister, two young brothers and mother while her father is out of the country working. Bored during the summer, she sees a dog trotting past her house with a market basket and decides to follow. She watches as the dog goes into shops, clerks look at the list, fill it, and take money from the basket. The enterprising canine even stops by the ice cream store for free scoops! In the bookstore with the dog, Jo comes across a children's art class, and the participants think the dog belongs to Jo. She decides his name is Pawcasso, and offers to bring him to class every Saturday so they can draw him. Pawcasso becomes something of a local celebrity until a local cranky old man brings up leash laws. The community is divided, and Pawcasso is almost taken to the pound. Jo investigates and finds the dog's owner, and learns a little about his history. Eventually, the ruse is found out, but the community comes together to work for the good of dogs, and Jo comes to terms with her father being away from home. 
Strengths: Jo's world is an idyllic one few of us get to experience-- shops within walking distance that include a grocery, ice cream store, and book store; children allowed to roam freely and run their father's dog grooming business in an emergency; public transportation; and lots of children hanging about having adventures. Seeing the community tussle over leashes vs. no leashes was compelling, and it was easy to believe that people thought Pawcasso belonged to Jo. The family problems add an additional layer of interest. Brightly colored illustrations in an appealing style will appeal to fans of Telgemeier, Jamieson, and Scrivan.
Weaknesses: I love overalls as much as the next person, but I haven't seen a middle schooler wear them for a long time, at least not such utilitarian looking ones. I was also greatly distracted by the characters' rounded teeth. Usually, it's noses!
What I really think: This is the sort of book I expected Pie in the Sky to be, and I think it will be much more popular with students. It's an interesting graphic novel with some information about dog well being that is perfect for elementary students but will work in middle grade as well. A great companion to the new Allergic for dog lovers.

Porter, Kenny and Wilcox, Zach Wilcox (Illustrations). Fearless
May 4th 2021 by Graphix
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Kara and Alice have been friends for years, and enjoy reenacting episodes from their favorite show, Shinpi Riders. (Not a real show, as far as I can tell.) When Alice has to move right before middle school starts, Kara is devastated, and when Alice doesn't answer her phone calls, she is inconsolable. She decides to skip the first day of school and ride her bike to Alice's town so that the two of them can catch up, and she can bring Alice back with her if she is unhappy. Along with her ferret, Gidget, Kara starts off, ignoring calls from her mother and using the GPS on her phone until the battery runs out. There are some fun adventures, like helping a boy set up a farm stall and helping a woman whose store was ransacked by a runaway deer, but there are also lots of problems. At one point, she is asleep in an abandoned car when a park ranger finds her and gives her a meal, has her call home, and offers to drive her. Since she hasn't made it to Alice's school yet, she runs away. At the school, the interaction doesn't go well, and she goes to Alice's house, where it isn't any better. Alice has not been happy with the friendship for a long time, and is tired of Shinpi Riders and of always having to do what Kara wants. When Kara starts at her new school, will she be able to find new friends, and will she eventually heal her rift with Alice?
Strengths: It's hard to go wrong with a book about middle grade friendship problems, and young readers often have very strong feelings about certain books or shows (Warriors fans, anyone?).It's good to see this struggle played out between Kara and Alice. The adventure is fun, and I can't think of any other books featuring ferrets. Bonus points for making their own Shinpi Riders masks.
Weaknesses: Kara bikes around the countryside without anyone knowing where she is, with a ferret, and without a helmet! There are so, so many dangerous things that Kara does that I was really irritated as a parent, although young readers will just think about the adventure. I found Kara annoying.
What I really think: The lack of bike helmet, along with the flowing scarf that is bound to get caught in the tires, causing a bad injury (think Edna St. Vincent Millay!) really bothered me. If I have extra money next year, I may purchase. 

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