Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Red's Planet

Red's Planet
Eddie Pittman
Amulet, 2016 192 pgs.
Grades 2-6
Graphic Novel
Red's Planet #1

Cartoonist and former writer for Phineas and Ferb, Eddie Pittman, turns his successful web-comic into a series of graphic novels for kids. This opener in a projected series introduces Red, a ten-year-old foster kid, with the spunk and independence to match her red hair. She hates being called "Red", yet everyone does it. When living in the circus of her foster home becomes too much, Red decides to run away. A policeman picks her up, intending to bring her to social services. A mysterious light forces him to investigate, leaving Red in the police car, which is beamed up to an alien ship. The ship belongs to a rich and eccentric collector of rare things. The police car with Red secretly inside is just what he needs to make his collection complete. Meanwhile, pirates threaten to invade the ship and all must evacuate. Red crashes with the ship and all those unlucky enough to escape. The alien planet seems deserted and survival looks hopeless. Red and her new friend, a small mute creature carrying around a mysterious metal egg, have a series of misadventures, finally landing them at the doorstep of Goose, the cranky custodian/tiger of the planet who clearly wants to be left alone. Red unites her rag-tag group of fellow survivors and reluctantly Goose agrees to co-habitate with them until help arrives. Red realizes that she feels comfortable on this new planet and with these strange folks and knows that at long last she has finally found Home.

PIttman has turned his alien web-comic into an enjoyable graphic novel series for young people. The pictures are lively and colorful and work to tell the story seamlessly with the text. The story is imaginative, yet believable, and has a linear plot that children can understand. The humor Pittman used while penning Phineas and Ferb is evident, as through the story funny things are happening, both obvious and subtle. Red is a foster kid with no ties, which makes her the perfect outer space adventurer. Children will relate to the humanness of Red and experience her brave and reckless adventures through her eyes. Red is not a "girlie girl" and boys will manage to relate to her as well as girls. She is the new "Gilligan" and we can imagine many madcap adventures await as the series continues and our band of stranded misfits try to get off the "island". The layout is easy for children to follow and the panels scan well, leading to full page spreads when the action reaches a crescendo. Unknowns are left dangling, raising questions in the reader's mind: What is Goose's story, where did the little mute guy disappear to and what is in his egg? Will the aliens remain on the planet or will a rescue ship arrive? Kids will eat this volume up like candy and it just might just lead them to read more serious science fiction, or at least the next installment in the series.

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