In a culture where â€œmash-upâ€ (the combining of different songs into one whole) has become an recognized genre of music, a similar attitude of line blurring in kids books is a natural progression. Deborah Wilesâ€™ recent Countdown does it, and so does Nadja Spiegelman and Trade Loeffler’s Zig and Wikki. In fact, they smoosh a lot of things together â€“ comics, easy-readers, science, science fiction â€“ to arrive at a very pleasing end product.
Lost in space with his computer monitor-shaped friend Wikki and late for a homework assignment requiring him to find a class pet, cyclops Zig is desperate. The pair land on the nearest planet, which happens to be Earth, to search for a suitable creature. Regular-sized among their planetâ€™s population, Zig and Wikki are tiny on earth. Our heroes run into (and get spooked by) a variety of animals, from fly to frog, before a close encounter with a raccoon has the pair heading for home in a hurry.
Each time they encounter an animal, Wikkiâ€™s screen lights up with information and a photograph. Itâ€™s always a subtle Who Framed Roger Rabbit shock to see a real-life image mixed in with a cartoon. It succeeds in adding visual interest.
While the nonfiction elements wouldnâ€™t qualify it for any sort of student research, that isn’t the goal. The intermittent animal facts (“Flies taste with the hair on their feet”) fit with the story and add an additional appeal to readers who like their books fact-based.
As has been the case since day one with TOON Books releases, the layout and design are impeccable. The cover informs readers that theyâ€™re picking up a comic, and the simple panel progressions within make the action easy for beginning readers to follow. Loeffler’s richly-colored images guide the story, subtly showing the food chain in action.
An unexpected addition to the TOON Books catalog and a title that will charm more than a few.
Review copy from publisher.
Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.