Review: Look…Look Again! by John O’Brien
By John O’Brien
Boyds Mills Press
Absurdity is largely wasted on adults. While us grown-ups tend to favor sense to nonsense, the logical to the illogical, kids can be surprisingly comfortable with non sequiturs. In Look…Look Again! John O’Brien delivers a book full of delightfully warped reality. Silly, funny, and fun to read, this is a comic collection gloriously off the beaten path.
Over 64 pages, cartoons are broken into sections focusing on one of six characters: the Dairy Farmer, the Chef, the Woodsman, the Knight, the Doorman, and the Clown. With panels ranging from two to six panels, the characters play with conventions. Visual puns abound. From a pizza chef who hand-tosses his own hat, to a farmer milking an udder-less cow’s word bubble, things often get downright absurd.
The illustrations are pen and ink with some lovely stipple watercolor. O’Brien is a veteran cartoonist and illustrator – and it shows, with simple, clear artwork that gets the (unconventional) point across. It may take some readers a moment to adapt to the top to bottom flow of the panels (as opposed to the traditional left to right reading), but that is ultimately a minor hitch.
It’s an uneven, but frequently rewarding batch of comics. Clever twists on common tropes are O’Brien’s specialty. I ask you: why have we never seen this solution to the damsel in distress quandary before?
Kids can appreciate silliness for the sake of it. They’ll find much to appreciate here. Here’s to bringing something completely different to the 741.5 section.
Review copy purchased.
Filed under: Reviews
About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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