Something I especially love about TOON Books is the exposure I get to the works of acclaimed cartoonists from all over the world and the slightly left of center sensibility they bring to the beginning reader graphic novels they create for this publisher that is now five years old! Bringing these author-artists who have thriving careers creating works for adult into the children's book world has added (a much needed) breath of fresh air - especially when it comes to beginning readers. Eisner Award nominee Renée French is yet another of these creators bringing her style and sensibility to TOON Books.
Barry's Best Buddy (Level 1) is a classic odd couple story which makes for some of the best beginning reader books. And I have to say, Barry's best buddy has to be one of the BEST creations I have seen in long time. Barry's best buddy is Polarhog, a lumpy, toothy, kindhearted fellow who is good at planning surprises and keeping a secret.
Polarhog arrives at Barry's house one morning telling him to get up because he has a surprise for him. Polarhog also notes the dreary appearance of Barry's house, saying, "Your HOUSE puts me to sleep. What color is it? Snooze?"
Polarhog leads Barry, who is a little bit blasé, maybe even a little bit grumpy, on a walk through the woods. Passing a hat store, Polarhog convinces Barry he will look SO GOOD in a hat, like the King of France. The two friends make a few more stops, including a visit to the ice cream store and the appearance of a mysterious meatball. Along the way they keep passing a line of ants who are clearly up to something. But what? That is the surprise that Polarhog has for Barry when they make their way back to his (no longer Snooze colored) house, making Barry's Best Buddy a new favorite among favorites for me.
Just in case this wasn't enough, check out this perfectly scored (and narrated) book trailer. It will definitely pique your child's interest!
Source: Review Copy