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Officer Clawsome: lobster cop

by Brian “Smitty” Smith and Chris Giarrusso
2023 / 238 pages

In the opening scene a fish peddler (the fish is the peddler, not the goods) calls out “Fresh fruit here! Get your fresh…” only to have something “ZOOOM!” past and purée all his oranges and apples. Momentarily at a loss, the peddler looks down at the soupy mess, only to, one panel later, start smiling again calling out, “Fresh fruit juice here! Get your fresh fruit juice.”

Comic genius? Not on its own, but just like a good dad-joke (are there any other kind?) the hilarity builds with every one you layer on top. And there are oodles here, including some awful/awesome puns, starting with the hero of our story, the lobster cop “Officer Clawsome,” called “Clawful” by the villains he arrests.

Like any good cop/buddy flick, Clawsome has a partner, the starfish Stariana who serves as both his badge of office, riding around on his chest, and as his ninja throwing star when needed. When the town’s favorite bakery goes missing – the whole building, staff and all, are just gone – the twosome have to take on a whole host of underwater villains including Catburglarfish, the wrestler Masked Mussel, Brain Sturgeon, the Electric Eel, and a giant mechanized shark. It’s all sorts of action, with all sorts of cinematic cliches thrown in just for dad to enjoy too – the best is the massive explosion in the background with Clawsome and Stariana strutting in the foreground.

One reviewer called this a “safe grandma buying read for the grandkids” and I’d agree. No cautions needed – this is just good clean, very silly fun. And it’s so good that even though it weighs in at 200+ pages, your kids won’t have had enough. Unfortunately, at this point there isn’t a sequel.

But one can hope!

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Book Reviews, Children’s picture books, Graphic novels

Bolivar

by Sean Rubin 224 pages / 2017 New York is the busiest city in the world, and people there are simply too busy to notice much of anything going on around them. Except Sybil. Sybil is a little girl who does notice things. And she recently noticed that her next-door neighbor is, in fact, a dinosaur. Sybil keeps getting peeks at the mysterious, very large fellow next door. But try as she might, she can’t get the evidence she needs to prove his existence to anyone else. Her parents, her teacher, and her classmates all scoff. A dinosaur in New York? How ridiculous!  Now in a secular book that tackles dinosaurs, you might expect some sort of reference to evolution. But nope, there’s none of that. This utterly charming graphic novel is, in one sense, simply a chase story, with Sybil tracking her prey through New York boroughs, the museum, the subway system, never quite getting near enough for the perfect photograph. But the enormous size of this book – 1 foot by 1 foot, with 224 pages – also gives author and illustrator Sean Rubin an opportunity to show off a city he clearly loves….even as he gently mocks residents for their self-absorption. With a girl and a dinosaur as the main characters, this is a fantastic book for boys and girls from Grade 1 on up (I loved it!). This might also be the perfect book for a reluctant reader. The big bright pictures will draw them in, and the size of the book will give them a sense of accomplishment when they finish it, while the limited amount of text per page means this is a book they can finish. Bolivar is a gorgeous goofy adventure and I can’t recommend it highly enough! There's a much shorter sequel of sorts – just 24 pages – called Bolivar Eats New York that is only okay. Sybil challenges Bolivar to try something other than corned beef sandwiches, so together they sample the fare from a half dozen or so ethnic eateries in the Big Apple serving Italian, Muslim, and Jewish fare. ...