Saturday, September 04, 2021

Cartoon Saturday- Cardboardia and Death & Sparkles

Fairgray, Richard and Campagnolo, Lucy. Cardboardia: The Other Side of the Box
September 7th 2021 by Pixel+ink

Pokey is a very enthusiastic six-year-old living with her grandparents, older brother Mac, and imaginary friend, Colombo. On her brithday, she finds an odd amulet in her cereal. Mac's friend Maisie does as well. When Maisie is escorting Pokey back to her classroom after she delivers Mac's lunch to him (which she has grabbed by mistake), the two get sucked into a cardboard box that is a portal to a magical world where everything is made of cardboard. Mac's friend Bird also finds an amulet, right before Maisie reports that she has lost Pokey. Mac has an encounter with a creepy cardboard woman in his attic, but doesn't get many answers. The boxes only serve as portals if they are kept in good shape, but it's not long before Birdie is sucked into another one (that is cleverly being used as a paper recycling bin!). Finally, Mac, Maisie and Birdie all travel together, only to find themselves on a "Wanted" poster. Things are not okay in the kingdom, but will the three be able to both find Pokey and help the magical world right itself?

The larger than usual format of this graphic novel (7.5 x 11 inches) makes it sightly easier to read the words, and the pictures are in full color. Fairgray's illustrations (which might be familiar because of Black Sand Beach as well as his picture books) are distinctive, and the color palette changes logically to a more cardboard colored one in the magical world. There are lots of good details, like untied shoelaces, Maisie's exuberant outfits, and crowded school hallways. 

Cardboard seems to be rather a trend in graphic novels, with everything from TenNapel's Cardboard to Sells' Cardboard Kingdom, but it makes sense that this would be a great material to use to construct a magical world! Bonus points for being environmentally more friendly than plastic. 

While this first book just sets up the premise for lots more adventures, it's clear that there are more thrills and chills to come. Readers who like fantasy adventure graphic novels like Steinkellner's The Okay Witch,  Cooke's Paranorthern and the Chaos Bunny A-Hop-Calypse, Siegel's 5 Worlds, Stevenson's Nimona,  and Hicks' The Nameless City will be glad to see the first book in another series of books they can anticipate.

Justus, Rob. Death & Sparkles: Book 1
September 7th 2021 by Chronicle Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Sparkles is the last unicorn, but sadly, he has been exploited by people who want to make money on his fame and use him to advertise silly products like socks. In exchange, he gets celebrity status and as many cupcakes as he wants. When his manager makes him participate in a dangerous trick to promote a product, it ends badly, but Sparkles doesn't die. We also meet Death, who is bored of the endless paperwork and grind of dispatching souls. When he tries to send Sparkles to his demise, however, he fails. While the two are trying to figure out why this is, they become friends. Meanwhile, alien lizards rejoice that humans won't be distracted by Sparkles, and they can forward their ecological agenda on Earth in order to save it. They, however, get sucked into the celebrity lifestyle as well. Will Death be able to get his work done, will Sparkles be able to fulfill his destiny, and will the lizards make any positive inroads into ecological projects? The answers may lie in the second book.
Strengths: This is certainly a different topic for a graphic novel, and unicorns are still popular. There is some heavy duty philosophy about celebrity culture and ecological concerns that one would not necessarily expect in a book feature a unicorn and the embodiment of death. The pictures are bright and amusing, and there is plenty of slapstick comedy. 
Weaknesses: This almost seems like an adult book,not that there is anything inappropriate for younger readers, but it has a very snide, sarcastic tone to it. 
What I really think: I think I will pass for my library, since my unicorn fans are usually wanting pink, fluffy, happier unicorn books like Stuff Unicorns Love or more high fantasy unicorn adventures like Benko's Unicorn Quest series. This might be popular with disaffected, Goth high school students who wear unicorn headbands ironically. 

Ms. Yingling

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