Friday, March 2, 2012

Larf by Ashley Spires

Ashley Spires, who branched out from her hilarious graphic novels about Binky the Space Cat to write a picture book last year, Small Saul, continues the theme of characters who just don't quite fit in the way everyone else expects.

In her newest picture book, Larf, she introduces the only living sasquatch - or so he thinks - his pet bunny Eric, and a surprisingly sweet story about the joys of friendship.

Larf is perfectly content to live life alone, avoiding reporters and fame, and filling his days with peaceful activities. Until one day he sees that a sasquatch is scheduled to make an appearance in the nearby city. Could there be another person like him?

In a ferment of uncertainty, he makes a hilarious and risky trip to the city only to discover the sasquatch is a fake...but rest assured, there's a happy ending after all!

Spires' watercolor illustrations with touches of collage (and "a dollop of Organic Sasquatch Detangler and Conditioning Shampoo") are the perfect accompaniment to her dry wit. I was especially fascinated by how well she blended Larf into his natural environment; he looks perfectly at home in his log cabin and the woods, but made him out of place in the city without making him ridiculous. The soft earth tones and caricatured people combine to create a smoothly blended story that combines humor, friendship, and a gentle moral - it can be scary to make new friends, but worth it!

Verdict: While not quite as delicious as her Binky books or as funny as Small Saul, this is a delightful story that will be perfect for storytimes and read-alouds. After all, how many sasquatch picture books are there? Recommended.

ISBN: 9781554537013; Published April 2012 by Kids Can Press; Review copy provided by the publisher through Raab Associates; Purchased for the library

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