Kraken Me Up

Holiday House. (I Like to Read Comics). Sept. 2021. 40p. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780823450176.
Gr 1-3–Hilarity ensues and lessons are learned when a raincoat-clad girl enters a very unusual animal into the county fair pet show. While the other kids proudly show off their pigs and hens, Izzy’s kraken, a fearsome-looking sea creature, is initially met with terror and rejection. But Izzy coaxes him into letting others get to know him (“Find a way to make them smile.”). After an awkward ink-squirting mishap that explains why Izzy wears a raincoat, the gentle kraken takes her advice and wins over the audience with humor. Their newfound acceptance is threatened when the kraken suddenly coughs up a ship full of pirates lodged in his belly, but it turns out the seafarers are just happy to be free, and everyone goes on to enjoy the fair. The mixture of whimsy, wordplay, and genuine sweetness will appeal to adults and children alike, as will the affirming messages about kindness, individuality, and open-mindedness. Ebbeler’s expressive, dynamic illustrations burst with energy. The prose is approachable for the target audience of early readers, with short sentences and simple vocabulary. Izzy has light brown skin, and characters of color are in attendance at the fair.
VERDICT Izzy and her kraken are winners in any collection, especially where graphic novels for emerging readers are needed.

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