French turns in a first-level reader that bares none of the disturbing hallmarks of her previous works, like the award-nominated The Ticking (2006) or Micrographica (2007). Instead, the tale of Polarhog’s attempt to pull his friend Barry the Bird out of a humdrum existence is told in generous two-page spreads that give the environments a lustrous feeling and allow readers to appreciate the idiosyncratic personalities packed into the characters’ distinctive faces. Alternating subdued colors with much brighter ones also helps breathe lovely life into some of the book’s visual punch lines. The needs and nuances of children’s literature are well represented, as echoes of Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad books find their way into the slightly morose Barry and his upbeat pal, and friendship and cooperation are the key themes here, with Polarhog arranging a colorful surprise with the help of some friendly ants. Naturally, in the tradition of curmudgeons since time immemorial, Barry is eventually won over by his friend’s love and devotion. Yet another winner from TOON. Preschool-Grade 1. --Jesse Karp
About the Author
is a cutting-edge American cartoonist and illustrator. Her work has been widely anthologized, and she is the artist behind the critically acclaimed graphic novel The Ticking
, which was nominated for an Eisner Award in 2007. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly
called her "an inimitable and masterful stylist."