May 24, 2018

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Akissi by Marguerite Abouet | SLJ Review

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redstarABOUET, Marguerite. Akissi: Tales of Mischief. tr. from French by Judith Taboy & Marie Bédrune. illus. by Mathiew Sapin. 188p. Flying Eye/Nobrow. May 2018. pap. $14.95. ISBN 9781911171478.

Gr 2-5 –This comprehensive volume includes the seven short stories featured in Abouet & Sapin’s Akissi: Cat Invasion, along with 14 others. The tales, translated from French, follow Akissi’s day-to-day life in her Ivory Coast town. In “Good Mothers,” Akissi and friends steal their neighbor’s baby to play “mums.” In “Sunday Feast,” Akissi consumes all the food for Communion at church (including the wine) before the service begins. In “Midnight Pee,” Akissi’s brother, Fofana, refuses to wake up to accompany her to the outside bathroom, so she urinates on his blanket. The short story format sacrifices some character development, but the dynamic among Akissi, her brother, and their parents is classic nuclear family drama and hilarity. Realistic moments are not softened, such as when Akissi eats rotten fruit off the ground and contracts tapeworms that crawl out of her nose. But with its gross-out humor and plucky heroine, the collection reads like Dennis the Menace meets Pearls Before Swine, set in West Africa—and may appeal to fans of both. Sapin’s art is earth-toned, with a scratchy yet precise line quality. The panel structure is consistent, with no more than six similarly sized panels per page. Dialogue font is generally small. Bonus content includes three recipes and instructions on how to make African braids. VERDICT This volume fills a gap in children’s comics featuring African characters and settings. Highly recommended for middle grade graphic novel collections.–Alec Chunn, Eugene Public Library, OR

This review was published in the School Library Journal May 2018 issue.

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