CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 13. . . .December 2, 2016
Out and About. (Anna & Froga 5).
Anouk Ricard. Translated by Helge Dascher.
Montreal, QC: Enfant/Drawn & Quarterly, 2016.
40 pp., hardcover, $17.95.
Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.
Review by Myra Junyk.
Bubu: Argh... puff puff
Ron: Hey, Bubs! I like the outfit!
Bubu: My doctor told me I need to get in shape.
Froga: Who, you?
Bubu: I’m on a special diet, too. That stuff you’re eating is poison, by the way.
Ron: Hardly. In fact, it’s really quite delicious. Have some!
Bubu: Thanks, but those days are over. I eat healthy now, and so should you. I’m going on a detox retreat tomorrow. Want to come?
Ron: What’s that?
Bubu: It’s supposed to make you feel great.
Anna: Sure, let’s give it a try! (p. 8)
Out and About is the latest addition to the graphic novel series about the amusing duo and their friends. Readers meet the main characters Anna and Froga (the frog) along with their friends Bubu (the dog), Christopher (the worm), as well as Ron (the cat). In this graphic novel, they are “out and about” while preparing for Christmas, getting in shape, playing board games, going on hot air balloon rides, learning about smartyphones and travelling to Paris.
The cast of amusing characters continues to have fun and interesting adventures as they go about their everyday lives. Their enduring relationships are explored in each and every adventure. Bubu decides that he will not be purchasing Christmas gifts for his friends this year, and so the rest of them decide they, too, will be making their presents in an effort to “go green”. The result is a frustrating time of making useless presents. On Christmas Day, all of the friends are disappointed with their “homemade” gifts. Readers learn that the friends care for each other and are concerned about the environment, but they are also disappointed with the efforts to be “green”. It is not easy being green!
The underlying commentary about today’s society is amusing and brutally honest. When the friends go to a detox retreat, they criticize the terrible food and the exhausting activities. Eventually, they all decide to leave – and order pizza! In “The Neighbour”, the friends meet a new neighbour who is a vampire. Their terrified reactions and attempts to get rid of him are a commentary on all the horror shows that Froga watches. And finally, their trip to Paris and the Eiffel Tower is an amusing look at typical tourists wandering around famous cities – and missing the truly wonderful sites around them.
This is the fifth volume in the “Anna and Froga” graphic novel series. Anouk Ricard’s graphic novel is meant for readers of all ages, but its contents will appeal particularly to younger readers. The individual stories are short and funny. At the core of this graphic novel is a firm belief in the value and importance of friendship. When Bubu picks up a lost smartyphone and claims it as his own, the friends chide him for not returning it. However, when the owner returns, the friends immediately step in so that he can return it safely. The friends may disagree with each other about their behavior, but they always support each other.
Ricard’s illustrations are detailed, colourful and full of interesting activities which enhance the written text. There is no shortage of action even at a picnic in the park where a rather scary smartyphone owner confronts Bubu about his lost phone. The use of coloured speech bubbles emphasizes the back and forth conversation over the phone. Despite the fact that most of the characters are animals, their changing eyes and facial expressions give readers a lot of insight into their feelings about the action in the novel.
Readers will definitely enjoy the amusing stories about the group of friends in Out and About. This book can definitely be read independently by young readers, but it can also be used as a read-aloud. Discussion topics could include: the environment, horror stories, dieting, safety rules, technology, responsibility, travelling and Paris. Anouk Ricard continues to amuse readers as they explore the importance of friendship in their lives!
Myra Junyk, from Toronto, ON, is a literacy advocate and author.
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