Friday, July 15, 2022

Guy Friday--Lumber-Jackula

Hegearty, Mat and Owen, Sam (illus.). Lumber-Jackula
July 19th 2022 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
ARC provided by Follett First Look; E ARC provided by the author

As Jack nears the age of twelve, he must leave his inclusice Under School and choose what secondary school her must attend. His forest communityis peopled by Vampires and Lumberjacks, who led very separate lives until the invention of Sun Scream allowed the vampires to venture out into the daylight. While the two groups generally get along, Jack feels pulled to both sides of his identity, especially since his grandparents on both sides chime in with older opinions, even though they get along. His father wants him to attend Sorrow’s Gloom Vampire School, and his mother wants him to go to Mighty Log Lumberjack Prep. He visits both, and gets along with the students, but neither seems quite right. A chance meeting with the enthusiastic Plenty when he is dancing in the woods leads him to sneak off to explore Tip Tap Twinkle Toes Dance Academy on his own. He really enjoys the school, and lies to his family about his whereabouts, since he feels they won't understand this new venture at all. Jack wants to make his family happy, but realizes that he has to remain true to his own dreams. Will this be enough to encourage him to talk honestly with his family about where he wants to attend school?
Strengths: Lumber-Jackula had a definite classic comic book feel to it, if you're old enough to remember comic books like Harvey Comics' Richie Rich, or Dell Comics' Little Lulu. There was something about the illustration style, and the color conventions; the lumberjack world was predominately green and brown, the vampire world was rife with a blue-gray, and Twinle Toes  was like being dropped into a bucket of paint chip colors that kindergarteners wanted to paint their classroom. Jack is an appealing character who is loved and supported by his extended family and wants to make them happy and proud. I loved that even though his town hadn't been integrated for very long, the vampires and lumberjacks coexisted peacefully. Jack's love of dance wasn't understood by his family, who wanted him to follow in one of their paths, but it was good to see him find his people at the dance academy. The conflict is gentle, but realistically portrayed, and a compromise is eventually found. This has a much more philosophical view of the current sociopolitical trends than many graphic novels, but also is a fun and sometimes silly romp. 
Weaknesses: I would have liked a little more information about the variety of different creatures in the woods, especially the wide array of differt types at Tip Tap Twinkle Toes Dance Academy who don't seem to show up much in the town Jack frequents. I also felt like this required a lot more deep, philosophical thought than I was giving it. 
What I really think: Readers who enjoyed Steinke's Mr. Wolf's Class, Feuti's The King of Kazoo, Boothby's Sparks, or the bright colors and silliness of Kochalka's The Glorkian Warrior series will enjoy this innovative, inclusive look at finding one's own voice.

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