February 25, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Garbage Night by Jen Lee | SLJ Review

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redstarLEE, Jen. Garbage Night. illus. by Jen Lee. 72p. Flying Eye/Nobrow. Jun. 2017. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781910620212.

Gr 5 Up –This continuation of Lee’s previous short graphic tale “Vacancy” (included at the end of this book) is a compelling work of friendship and survival in a confusing postapocalyptic world. Simon, a domesticated dog, and his wild friends, Cliff the raccoon and Reynard the deer, spend their days scrounging for food in a dismal, abandoned suburban wasteland, waiting for the return of fresh food in the form of “garbage night.” When the trio meet a tough stray dog named Barnaby, they decide to travel with him to a nearby town where humans supposedly still live and garbage is plentiful. The world-building is outstanding. Every page features subtle verbal and background clues for readers to carefully assemble into a chilling backstory. Most will find it difficult not to care for these expressive anthropomorphic teen animals, in their ragged streetwear and sneakers. Loneliness and desperation saturate their every action and conversation, and speech bubbles are placed with great care for maximum impact. The bold usage of color distinguishes this graphic novel. Abrupt vivid color changes marking the passage of time and heightened tensions and action help to move the plot along, sometimes seemingly at breakneck speed. VERDICT A gripping, first-rate book. The dystopian theme will draw readers in, while hints of a sequel will have them hoping for more.–Kelley Gile, Cheshire Public Library, CT

This review was published in the School Library Journal October 2017 issue.

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