Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Gum Girl: Catastrophe Calling by Andi Watson

I don't usually tantalize you with books you can't have, but I'm going to review something on Friday that needs you to know about this first.

I am a big enough fan of Andi Watson's graphic novels to purchase them from Book Depository or for my own collection. I particularly love Glister, although I can see that it wouldn't have wide appeal to most US kids but for a great graphic novel that kids would love, I recommend US publishers take a look at Gum Girl.

Grace is a normal girl, worried about moving to a new town and especially about her dad being the headmaster at her new school. Then she gets a good look at the town...and she's really worried. Her parents think living in Catastrophe with giant robots, an active volcano and a general population of supervillains is an awesome idea. Grace thinks they're insane. However, a little playing around with her chemistry set, a few gum-themed accidents and suddenly she finds herself making the decision to become Gum Girl! Armed with her super gum that can do all sorts of amazing things, she decides to help the ordinary citizens of Catastrophe and fight back against the mad scientists and supervillains, even though the other kids in school warn her that nobody ever helps anybody in Catastrophe. There's a happy ending for all and a hint of more adventures to come for Gum Girl!

Watson's art is full of bright colors and funny jokes. I love the pixel art on some of the clothes and scenery and the little jokes mixed into the giant robots. The book itself is a large format paperback - about 10 x 6 inches - so there's lots of room for the panels and a text that's a good, readable size. There's a lot of pink, but not so much that boys will be reluctant to pick up the book. Grace aka Gum Girl is an awesome female character who's smart, independent, and inventive but not afraid to ask for help when she needs it.

Verdict: I love the mixture of Saturday morning cartoon superheros/school friendships and snarky byplay amongst the students. If only someone would publish this in the US, maybe change a few expressions like "headmaster" and "plaits" I can guarantee it would give Babymouse and Daniel Boom a run for their money, at least in my library. If you're fortunate enough to be able to purchase it from the UK, go for it!

ISBN: 9781406329391; Published by Walker; Purchased for my own collection.

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