Skip to main content

Flop to the Top by Eleanor Davis & Drew Weing, 36pp, RL 2

Eleanor Davis has created two of my all-time favorite graphic novels, the multiple award winning Stinky, one of the first TOON Books published in 2008, and Secret Science Alliance, which came out in 2009. After creating art and a graphic novel for adults, Davis and fellow graphic novelist and husband Drew Weing  have teamed up with each other and TOON Books to bring us Flop to the Top.

The most unexpected and exciting thing for me about Flop to the Top, despite being called a "modern day fable" on the back of the book, is that is has a message that is both timely and not at all heavy handed. Weing and Davis bring cartoon humor to Flop to the Top, from the exclamation point hairdo of Wanda, the main character, and the stolid, constant expression of her mostly companion, Wilbur. Their palette is rich with warm oranges and yellows and cool blues and purples and the illustrations are chunkily solid, while at the same time dynamic and expressive. This in turn couches and softens the very real commentary on social media, obsession with celebrity and the inherent narcissism that this fascination engenders in Flop to the Top. I can't tell you how weird it is to be talking about something that I consider a serious plague on children and society in general these days while also discussing a really fun and funny graphic novel for beginning readers.

Wanda lets the reader know right from the start that she IS amazing and she IS a superstar. On the second page of the story, she is already taking selfies and giving them captions. The silent, non-reactive Wilbur is Wanda's biggest fan, and probably only fan since Wanda refuses to play with her little brother and sister. When a selfie with Wilbur (titled "Superstar Wanda and her Floppy Dog) goes viral, Wanda is thrilled - until she realizes all the attention is for Wilbur. Wilbur is whisked off into the world of celebrity where he gets to ride in limos with Sassy Cat, current star of the Star Show ("Where WE choose the stars!") and field compliments from his new hordes of fans. Wanda can only pedal behind (how she fits her exclamation point ponytail in her bike helmet is hilarious) and watch from the wings. Happily, Wanda gets in one good (true?) word that reaches Wilbur before she is dragged off by security and convinces him to give up the high life for fun in the backyard with Wanda, Jade and James. Wanda ends Flop to the Top by telling them all that they are her superstars. As one review of Flop to the Top ended, "The book is so much fun that both lessons - in reading and in life - go down easy." I couldn't agree more.

Also by Eleanor Davis:

Source: Review Copy


Popular posts from this blog

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!


POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

The Seeing Stick, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Daniela J Terrazini

The Seeing Stick is an original Chinese fairy tale written by the prolific (and prolifically award winning) Jane Yolen. First published in 1977 with illustrations by Remy Charlip (author and illustrator of the brilliantly fun picture book Fortunately and friend and muse to Brian Selznick, who asked him to pose as George Méliès while he was working on the Caldecott winning The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Seeing Stick was reissued with new illustrations by Daniela J. Terrazini in 2009. I have not seen Charlip's version, but Terrazini's is a beautiful work of art and the book itself is yet another magnificently packaged book published by Running Press, the house that brought us Steven Arntson's The Wikkeling, yet another superbly and uniquely packaged children's book with artwork by Terrazini. Interestingly, both The Wikkeling and The Seeing Stick were designed by Frances J Soo Ping Chow.

The Seeing Stick begins, "Once in the ancient walled citadel of Peking there l…