Today, I’ve got the sleek, slick, eye-catching artwork of Canadian illustrator and designer Frank Viva to grace 7-Imp. I should probably note that I’ve got manuscript revisions givin’ me the skunk eye of scorn—kinda like mouse over here—reminding me I should be focusing on them instead, so short posts may be the name of the game for a while here. (Well, short for me.)
Viva’s new book is called A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse (September 2012), and it’s one of those fantastic TOON Books/easy-to-read comics, which I’ve written about (most recently) here at Kirkus. This is a level-one book, meaning it’s for the newest of readers.
What we have here is the tale of a young explorer and his sidekick, Mouse. The two travelers visit the beautiful Antarctic to see the sights, ride the waves in their boat, meet some penguins, and see a whale. Mouse is anxious to get home—”can we go home now?” is his repeated refrain—since the waves make it hard to do much and, based on his appearance, he’s generally anxious and ready to be back on terra firma. The final endpaper punch line, however, gives readers the rimshot ending: “Can we go back there soon?” Mouse asks. (Isn’t that the way with children on many road trip adventures?)
Viva sets up a series of lists for young readers, which provide a pleasing rhythm to the book and opportunity for predictions, in which new readers actively engage, whether they realize it or not. “It is COLD out there, Mouse,” the boy says, for instance, to which Mouse replies: “Then you will need…boots…mittens…a hat…a scarf…and a snowsuit! Can we go home now?”
An author’s note states that Viva, whom you may remember from last year’s stand-out Along a Long Road, based this book on his experiences aboard a Russian research vessel during a trip to the Antarctic Peninsula — where he himself got sick, saw penguins and whales, and—ooh! ooh!—even “swam in the thermal waters of a submerged volcano.” He also notes this book, compared to the real-life adventure, was “much easier on his tummy.” Here he is below (ginormous yellow coat), followed by a picture of one of his whale encounters. Gorgeous, huh?
It’s the stylized, retro art in A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse that steals the show. Here’s where, instead of trying to describe it, I show you a spread or two. That manuscript, after all, calls my name.
A TRIP TO THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD WITH MOUSE. Copyright © 2012 by Frank Viva. Published by TOON Books, an imprint of Candlewick Press. All art and images reproduced by permission of the publisher.