The Barnabus Project by the Fan Brothers. 2020. Graphite and colored digitally. Published by Penguin Random House.
Brief summary: Barnabus is a combo of a mouse and an elephant. He lives in a secret lab underneath the Perfect Pets store. Barnabus is one of many failed projects living in bell jars dreaming of the world above thanks to the descriptions of it by a cockroach named Pip. One day Green Rubber Suits come down poking and talking about each creature in a bell jar while putting red stamps on all of the jars…FAIL. Before, they had no idea they were failed lab projects until Pip tells them that they indeed are and that there are better versions of themselves above. The creatures are going to be recycled. Barnabus decides he wants to go up now and see that wonderful world the cockroach tells everyone. All the creatures decide to join Barnabus and their adventures begin with figuring out how to get above. What will they discover?
Comments: I love the imagination and creativity of this book. The Perfect Pets Store is hilarious. Young readers can empathize with the failed projects and the desire of the creatures wanting to escape to live freely in a new world.
The Fan Brothers never fail to share a unique and creative story.
On Account of the Gum by Adam Rex; illustrated by Adam Rex. 2020. Illustrated with Photoshop. Published by Chronicle Books.
Brief summary: A young girl wakes up with gum in her hair. Her father tries to remove it but gets the scissors stuck in the gum. Her father and sister go on the computer and find some websites that say butter could get the gum out, but the butter gets stuck as well. Pretty soon, various family members offer their advance only getting more and more things stuck in her hair. The fire department ends up coming to help, and the story continues getting crazier and funnier.
Comments: Students will love this accumulative tale with hilarious illustrations.
The Camping Trip by Jennifer K. Mann; illustrated by Jennifer K. Mann. 2020. Pencil on tracing paper and then digitally collaged and painted. Published by Candlewick Press.
Brief summary: Ernestine excitedly goes camping for the first time ever with her Aunt Jackie and Cousin Samantha. She excitedly packs her clothes ready for the long drive to the country. The girls decide to put up their own tent. Ernestine learns that it is not like making a fort at home. After getting sweaty, the two girls go the pond to fish where Ernestine is afraid the fish will bit her, but Samantha confirms that they do not.
It is time for all three to take a hike and have a picnic. The girls discover the Nature around them. They have a campfire in the evening when they learn to make smores before going to bed. It is very dark and Ernestine wants to talk to her father, but there is no reception.
After a good night sleep, Ernestine is able to really enjoy the rest of the camping.
Comments: Some of the story is in comic book blocks. Cute story of two cousins enjoying camping.
Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses; illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin. 2020. Jimmy Patterson Books; Little, Brown and Company.
Brief summary: A young girl and her guitar-toting father adventure into the countryside to get her mother at the farmer’s market before all three head to the fairgrounds where they sing together on stage.
Comments: Beautifully illustrated!
Note: Keep in mind that this book’s interpretation of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses has a different storyline. The song was about Axl Rose’s girlfriend, Erin Everly. Before I knew the original story behind the song, I always thought it was talking about a parent’s love for his child just like the illustrations do in this picture book.