I read two graphic novels and two picture books for kids this month, including a book celebrating the late David Bowie.
Glam Prix Racers
As soon as I saw the Vroombot crew, the latest participants in the Glam Prix, I knew they were going to be trouble.
In this graphic novel (“Mario Kart meets My Little Pony”), the Glam Prix Racers, a team of 10 inhabitants of Glittergear Island and their talking vehicles – powered by sparklecharge – are gearing up for the new race season, aiming to win the Glam Prix Cup.
“But the Vroombot Crew of robots plan to cheat in the race. Can the Racers sparkle across the finish line first?”
The book, the first in a trilogy by Canadian author and illustrator duo Deanna Kent and Neil Hooson, focuses on the racers who use “speed, smarts and friendship to race their way to the top.”
The illustrations are cute – everything is really bubbly and colourful – and the characters, while unique, share the same goal of wanting to win, but doing so the honest way – working together and playing by the rules, unlike those obviously evil robots.
I really enjoyed the illustrations in Remy Lai’s graphic novel about 11-year-old Jo who notices a dog she names Pawcasso trot by her family’s front window, basket in mouth on his way to buy groceries for his family. Lonely and bored, Jo follows the dog as he goes shop to shop. When kids from her school notice her, they assume she is Pawcasso’s owner and while Jo attempts to tell the truth, she eventually stops trying to convince them she is not, but accepts her new-found status and the friends that come along with it.
“But what starts as a chihuahua-sized lie quickly grows great Dane-sized when animal control receives complains about a dog roaming the street off-leash. Wish Pawcasso’s freedom at stake, is Jo willing to spill the truth and risk her new friendships?”
It must be exhausting trying to keep up with lies and it’s certainly never a great base for a friendship. While the story focuses on Jo and the decisions she makes, I also like the other issues that are brought up in the story. What the “anti-dog” person goes through doesn’t seem far fetched, unfortunately. I think people of all ages can read this story and perhaps see a bit of themselves within those characters.
It’s hot in the jungle and while all the colourful birds are sitting by the pool, they were too busy showing off their feathers to go in. Along comes a bird who is grey and who just wants to cool off, but the other birds point and star and all agree he is oddbird who certainly doesn’t belong, and they force him to get out. Upset, Oddbird flies away and wonders why his looks matter to others.
“Oddbird isn’t worried about his feathers, he just wants to go for a refreshing dip. But he doesn’t fit in. He’s not fancy or colourful. He’s just…different. The other birds don’t want him around. How can he join them?”
While Oddbird’s initial choice was one that made him fit in, I liked that in the end Oddbird, and the rest of the birds, come to realize it wasn’t looks that mattered, but rather how one feels. The illustrations are fun, bright and colourful.
Starboy by Jami Gigot was inspired by the life and lyrics of the late David Bowie.
While I was never a David Bowie fan, what I liked about this book is that it made me want to learn more about “one of the most influential artists of our time, beloved for is joyful self-expression and fierce individuality.”
The book showcases how Bowie came to become this person and how he started off feeling like “a stranger on his own planet. As if he’d fallen to Earth from outer space.”
In Gigot’s author/illustrator note, Gigot writes: “I felt compelled to write a fictional narrative rather than a straight biography. I wanted to focus on his imaginative personality, what he might have felt like as a child and ultimately how he came to fearlessly express himself.”
The note tells more about Bowie, who Gigot was always been a fan of. The book also includes facts about Bowie with a dedication from Gigot to “the kooks, rebels and heroes of the world.”
The story was interesting and I can imagine David Bowie being like the character Gigot describes in his book. While the human illustrations aren’t my favourite, I do love how Gigot uses colour and stars to show the larger-than-life personality of David Bowie.
Originally from Wisconsin, Gigot now calls Vancouver home.
A copy of these books were provided by Raincoast Books for an honest review. The opinions are my own.