Cucumber Quest: The Doughnut Kingdom

illus. by Gigi D.G. 192p. First Second. Oct. 2017. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781626728325.
Gr 2–5—This exercise in video game logic is full of characters who solve puzzles, "level up," and look for bosses to fight. But perhaps that's where D.G.'s video game and animation background shows itself. The book began online in 2011, and this is the first of three volumes to be published by First Second. The Doughnut Kingdom is home to endearing bunny Cucumber and his equally adorable (and more heroic) little sister Almond, who must defeat the evil Queen Cordelia. They tackle dastardly nemeses, including their own meddling parents and Sir Bacon, Dame Lettuce, and Sir Tomato (BLT, get it?), and end up in the tentacles of a cute but scary sea monster. Appropriately, the narrative feels like a webcomic, meandering from notion to notion, from chance encounter to conflict to sharp plot turn, but the imagery stays vivid throughout: oranges, greens, and golds dominate rounded-off panels full of bunnies and a lovable bear.
VERDICT This title's stilted logic is balanced by its bold, gleeful illustrations, which will entice young readers with a taste for twists, turns, and cuddly bunnies.

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