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Space Dumplins Hardcover – August 25, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up—Violet's family lives among the Roids, the boondocks of the galaxy, where her father collects the whale droppings that fuel society. It's a dangerous job, for these massive space mammals eat anything stationary. During a bout of whale diarrhea (the equivalent of an oil spill), Violet's father goes missing. However, this capable young lady isn't about to sit still. With teamwork, she and her diverse group of alien friends learn they can pass impassible obstacles, save baby whales, and survive the harsh realities of space. This volume is a cornucopia of wacky aliens, cool ships, and space junk. Every panel is crammed full of minutely detailed line art and colored to match the status of the place (the elitist space-station Shell-Tarr has bright hues, while "outer space" has all the rusty and grimy shades of a junkyard). For this whirlwind adventure, Thompson uses dynamic layouts, opens up smaller spaces with cross-sections, and even mimics the action with some panels. While the work scrutinizes the energy crisis that humanity has yet to avert, it mostly focuses on the themes of family, friendship, and cooperation. VERDICT With its fully realized artistic vision, oddball humor, and fantastic story, Space Dumplins will appeal to those who loved, but have outgrown, Zita the Space Girl (First Second, 2011) and Cleopatra in Space (Scholastic, 2014).—Rachel Forbes, Oakville Public Library, Ontario, Canada
* "With thrilling adventure, a stalwart, good-hearted hero, some well-timed laughs, and a meaningful message at its heart, this is will surely be a star." -- Booklist, starred review
* "It's a wild and funny escapade, undergirded by a tender portrait of a family just trying to get by." -- Publishers Weekly, starred review
"I love Space Dumplins!" -- Jeff Smith
“Craig Thompson has created a new genre: the Adorable Epic." -- Joss Whedon
Praise for Habibi :
* "It is unfair to expect two masterpieces in a row from anyone, but here Thompson sits securely in that rarefied air."--Booklist, starred review
* "A lushly epic love story that's both inspiring and heartbreaking… A dense, swirling dervish of a tale…this will be the most talked about graphic novel of the fall." Publishers Weekly, starred review
* "The exquisite beauty and deep magic of this Arabian Nights-style love story cannot be overstated...Habibi is certain to join the ranks of graphic novels that expand our understanding of not only the genre but also the world it describes.”--School Library Journal, starred review
Praise for Blankets :
* "His visual mastery shows in fluid line work, assured compositions, and powerful use of solid black areas and negative space."--Booklist, starred review
"His exceptional b&w drawings balance representational precision with a bold and wonderfully expressive line for pages of ingenious, inventively composed and poignant imagery."--Publishers Weekly
"This second, much longer work shares the acuity for character development and dynamic sensitivity that makes the author so compulsively readable."--School Library Journal
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Top customer reviews
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My only regret with Craig Thompson's books is that there is so much time between books. After all, it takes awhile to craft beauty like this...
I repeat - what's not to love?
On the surface, this is a story about a young human girl who, aided by an evolved nerdy chicken and an alien, finds herself on a quest to save her father from giant space whales whose feces power spaceships. It would be a disservice to Space Dumplins to speak about it entirely in terms of plot. The characters and artwork are as quirky as the plot, with the mixture of beauty, absurdity, emotion, and religious allegory found in Thompson's other works (just with much less sex and adult language), on an appropriate level for kids but never "talking down" to that audience.
Only the first 32 pages were in color in the advance copy; however, even this small portion is enough to say that Dave Stewart's colors are masterful in themselves, vivid and somehow simultaneously soft and cartoony.
I'd not hesitate to recommend Space Dumplins to any younger reader. Or any older reader, for that matter (along with Thompson's other books that might not be quite as good for youngsters).
Space Dumplings feels a little like the junior version of Douglas Adams. There are giant space whales. And silliness. So much silliness. The puns are awful/wonderful as puns are. The story is wonderful. Violet is likable and lovable. She is a lovely mix of brave and good. And she hangs out with a chicken. How can you not love a girl who tries to save the day with a chicken?
To me, the thing that really set this book apart is the art. Very often I find graphic novels impossible to read because of the way they are (ore aren't) organized. The art in Space Dumplins is beautiful but not overwhelming. The text is easy to focus on and follow.
My only criticism would be that the title and cover art don't really convey what a wonderful book this is. If you have young readers that love graphic novels- give this one a chance.
"It's about a girl named Violet. Family is everything to her, parents Cera and Gar Marlockke. Gar is a lumberjack who for mysterious reasons goes on a mission to kidnap a baby whale. In outer space. Naturally, he is swallowed by the mother space whale. Violet gets new friends, Elliot the Chicken and Zachais one of the last Living Lumpkins. With their help, she rescues Gar and restores her family."
Her favorite part of the book was "the end". She loved the intricate artwork. The humor was laugh out loud funny.
My seven year old boy, who loves graphic novels, read the first few pages, figured out it was all about a girl, and refused to read any more. We'll try it on him again in a year.
The book is recommended for ages 8 and up, but I think it is more for adults. For example, the girl's school is destroyed in a disaster (on a weekend so no one is hurt), and the parents must shop for a new school and deal with working and the sudden loss of childcare. That's one chapter, and it's definitely an adult topic and right over kids' heads. There is some slapstick and potty humor and that seems to be what's for kids, but overall the book is geared toward adults.
My toddler looked at Violet's picture on the cover and identified with her. Violet's journey with her cute friends is adventurous, taking on unknown worlds. Like the intelligent apes of a movie, the walking encyclopaedic chicken and lumpy with their emotional baggage add to the thrill of the mission of finding Dad. Violet is really cool with her family uniting missions involving stitching up a whale baby with skills learnt watching her mom sewing.
The illustrations are detailed and wonderful. The dialogues are organic. The development of setting is solid enough to base sequels on.