Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Petal and Poppy by Lisa Clough, illustrated by Ed Briant

It seems like everybody is jumping on the easy reader comic bandwagon these days, even people who really, really should not be trying this format. I saw this book reviewed in a publication and my first thought was "do I really need another odd couple easy reader series? No, I do not." But my second thought was, well, summer is coming and my easy reader circulation is going to double or triple, so I'll take a look.

Petal is an elephant who worries and practices the tuba. Poppy is a...rhinoceros I guess, who likes to go on adventures and does not like the tuba. Petal gets so worried when Poppy goes scuba diving that she goes with her. When Poppy gets lost, Petal's tuba helps her find her way and when Petal jumps in the water to save her, Poppy rescues Petal from drowning.

The story is illustrated in large, clearly defined comic panels. Briant's art is colorful and detailed and shows the two friends and their very different personalities in their clothes, activities, and expressions.

The problem is, the story doesn't really make sense. We start with Petal and Poppy on different levels in their lighthouse, one playing the tuba and the other getting ready to go scuba-diving. Then, suddenly, they're on the same floor talking together. While Poppy is diving, a storm comes up (my first thought was it was caused by the tuba playing) and when she gets to the surface there's fog and she can't find the boat. I am the farthest thing imaginable from a diver, but I'm pretty sure that scuba divers don't go deep enough not to notice disturbances on the surface? While Poppy hears the tuba and starts swimming towards it, Petal determines to save her friend and says "Banzai?" as she leaps into the water....but apparently she can't swim. Meanwhile, the storm has apparently disappeared as suddenly as it came up and the water is flat as glass again.

Verdict: It's not a bad story and I'm probably being overly critical of things most kids wouldn't notice, but I am soooo tired of the odd couple genre and while the art in this is attractive, the story isn't at all what I'd want to give to beginning readers who need clear, simple plots to follow while they're decoding the words.

ISBN: 9780544114777; Published 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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