Genre: Graphic Novel Early Reader
Rating: (1-5, 5 is a starred review) 5
What did you like about the book? As Sturm tells us in the author’s note: “Why an ape and an armadillo? Visually it’s interesting to have one character who is really big and one who’s much smaller—I went with these two because Elephant and Piggie were already taken.”
What Mo Willems does for nascent readers, James Sturm is doing for advanced beginners. The text is more complex, the situations slightly more nuanced and the storyline more complicated, but otherwise Ape and Armadillo are the true blue (but flawed) kind of friends Elephant and Piggie are. Armadillo is demanding and bossy, taking charge of the direction of their day. Ape is gentler and more contemplative, but sticks to his guns.
As the story unfolds, the evil plan to take over the world (which ends up just being pretend play) is modified to include ice cream and a petting zoo without letting go of the yucky spitting serpents and army of robots.
The illustrations, while not as unpretentious as Mo Willems’ are still basic enough for budding illustrators to mimic. Sturm uses a restrained palette of subtle hues for the interactions between the two main characters, supplemented by lighter tones when illustrating the work of their imaginations. Very effective.
A gem of a story! Plus it has amusing bonus comic strips that run along the bottom of each page and another bonus comic at the end!
Anything you didn’t like about it? No.
To whom would you recommend this book? / Who should buy this book? This book will thrill readers who have outgrown (or are still reading, quite frankly) Elephant and Piggie Books
Where would you shelve it? I would shelve it in my Early Reader section, but some may choose to include with graphic novels.
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Nancy Riemer Kellner, Peaslee Elementary School Library, Northborough, MA
Date of review: 11/12/2016