Are We Lost Yet? (Another Wallace the Brave Collection) by Will Henry. Andrews McMeel, 2022. 9781524874728
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
Genre: Graphic novel/comics
What did you like about the book? Wallace celebrates the beginning of summer with the ceremonial throwing of his sneakers into the harbor and starts looking forward to a season of beach time. This is the fourth in the Will Henry series set in the town of Snug Harbor, although my first encounter with his characters (now also starring in their own PBS series). Wallace is the focal point, a cheerful, popular extrovert who loves being outside. His best friend Spud, with a trademark rectangular-shaped head, is his total opposite: nerdy, paranoid, and patently inept. Also joining the crew is Amelia, who takes no guff from anyone, and Rose, brainiac and skeptic and a newcomer to the series. The stories are told mostly in three or four panel arrangements (with each page being a complete daily strip), which advance several different story lines from the end of school to Christmas. With his wacky antics and grandiose plans endured by long-suffering parents, Wallace definitely reminded me of Bill Watterson’s Calvin, minus the more philosophical musings of that famous strip. The art also bore some resemblance to Watterson’s pen-and-ink minimalism, although this book features full color inking. Wallace’s situations and the characters’ banter was consistently cute and funny, with relatively little gross-out humor. Henry definitely included some quirky elements that kept the book from sliding into saccharine territory: Wallace’s feral little brother, Sterling, Spud being mistaken for a rabid raccoon by a near-sighted animal control officer, and Amelia’s epic pumpkin prank. The cartoonist is a New England native and I definitely enjoyed the regional flavor of my trip to the fictional Snug Harbor (based on Henry’s current hometown of Jamestown, Rhode Island). I also appreciated Wallace’s disinterest in technology and his love of nature and the outdoors — the setting for the vast majority of the action. Wallace, his family, and Amelia are White, Rose is Black, and Spud’s skin is an unusual ochre color, but as everything about Spud is eccentric, this could mean very little.
Anything you didn’t like about it? No
To whom would you recommend this book? Kids in grades 3-6 who have enjoyed Lincoln Peirce’s Big Nate books should give Wallace a try!
Who should buy this book? Elementary schools and 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: June 14, 2022
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