Louie and Bear in the Land of Anything Goes by Brady Smith

Louie and Bear in the Land of Anything Goes by Brady Smith. Penguin Workshop, 2021. 9780593224151

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 2

Format: Hardcover graphic novel

Genre: Fantasy

What did you like about the book?  Louie is the new kid on the block, shooed away from his screen fixation by his mom as she unpacks and gets them settled into their new place. Heading outside with his hamster Scooty, he falls into a deep hole, which takes him to an underground, technicolor world filled with crazy, cartoonish monsters. Scooty is now bigger than Louie and resembles a bear (hence the new name, Bear) and they soon meet the chicken-headed Cluck and a smart, tiny girl named Tooty. The duo learns that kids are being brought here by Hairy Larry, a bully who can’t make friends above ground. The four unite and it’s good guys vs. bad guys with tons of gross-out jokes and inventive chimeras including pizza slices with hands, a giant horned cacapoop, and evil zombunnies. The characters all present as White.

Anything you didn’t like about it? I’m deeply appreciative of the elementary-age love of the scatological (with occasional forays into vomit and gas), but when it’s the only note the characters sing, it gets tiring. That’s the case here.  The cells are very text-heavy, which definitely seems at odds with the humor and the colorful, simplistic look of the drawings. I was slightly taken aback by Louie’s luchador-look, complete with costume and mask, which he acquires once he falls into the new space; the author fails to make any acknowledgement of that tradition or provide an explanation as to why Louie is wearing it. 

To whom would you recommend this book?  If you need another elementary-aged graphic novel to satisfy Super Diaper Baby  fans, this could be an option. Still, with so many new, clever, attractive graphic novel series for elementary readers, I’m not sure this would be a series I would start collecting.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries

Where would you shelve it? Graphic novels

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: March 7, 2022

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