The Barnabus Project by The Fan Brothers

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.

At the Pond by Geraldo Valerio

At the Pond

At the Pond by Geraldo Valério; illustrated by Geraldo Valério. 2020. Graphite pencil, color pencil, acrylic paint, latex pain, color markers, and a little bit of gouache paint. Published by Groundwood Books.

Brief summary: A boy walks his dog on a chain leash in the woods to the pond of swans.  The boy rides on the back of one of the swans. The pond is full of birds and other animals with beautiful flowers growing on the shore.

The boy takes off the dog’s leash so it could play with the butterflies. The little boy puts it around the neck of the swan instead which causes the pond to turn gray and all of the swans to fly away.

The boy takes off the chain and drops it into the pond which brings all of the colors and animals back to the pond.

Comments: A simple but excellent story without words for children to learn about the respect and empathy of Mother Nature’s animals.  Using the bright colors to symbolize happiness and the black and white section to equal imprisonment and unhappiness helps readers understand the story.