The Smurfs Tales: The Smurfs and The Bratty Kid and Other Stories

Papercutz. Jul. 2021. 160p. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9781545806180.
Gr 2-5–The tiny blue people known as Smurfs are peaceful, industrious, and just a little bit magical. Each resident is named for an identifying trait—Chef Smurf, Brainy Smurf, Vanity Smurf—and frequently uses the word smurf in conversation, even sneezes. They commune with nature but are suspicious of humans, who they believe have violent tendencies. The first story in this collection justifies that fear, as a bratty child runs afoul of the Smurfs while tormenting woodland creatures. Under Papa Smurf’s patient tutelage, the remorseless, destructive boy gains a modicum of self-awareness and returns to his family a little easier to bear. The second story is much more people-centric, with a kingdom under attack from a usurper as well as a horde of Vul-Khan’s warriors, a play on Genghis Khan. The Asian fighters, however, are depicted with small, slanted eyes—a racial stereotype. The Smurfs play more of a bit part, as friends of an enchanter caught in the conflict. The third and final segment is a series of newspaper strip-size gags. While the humor is often inventive and charming, Smurfette, the lone female Smurf, either entertains proposals from the boys or worries about her appearance and weight. Chapters use four rows of panels per page and can appear packed, but Peyo’s layouts are easy to follow.
VERDICT Though many readers will find the Smurf community a humorous place to visit, librarians should be aware of the book’s stereotypical portrayals.

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