Sunday, February 10, 2008
Johnny Boo -- James Kochalka has created a 32-page story that is as kid-friendly as they come. Kochalka has said that he consulted with his young son Eli as he worked on this story, to make sure that it was working on the intended audience. Since Eli is about 3 years old, and I am 42, it's hard for me to be sure, but it seems likely to me that very young children will enjoy having Johnny Boo read to them.
This is not the same children's book style Kochalka worked in for Pinky and Stinky or Peanutbutter and Jeremy; artistically, Johnny Boo is closest to Kochalka's adults-only team book Super-F*ckers, with primary colours all over the place. Where Boo is unlike Super-F*ckers, other than a lack of profanity and gross-outs, is in a lack of scope. Super-F*ckers always feels like a wild ride with a million things happening at once, but Johnny Boo takes place entirely within the same grassy field that it begins in. If the characters ever move more than a few feet at a time within the story, it's not apparent.
Given that, Johnny Boo is probably going to mainly appeal to only the very young; but for pre-schoolers like Eli, this slight tale of ghosts, ice cream and monsters may seem enormous in scope, and it certainly has enough conflict and burping to keep them interested until the very end. And hopefully as they get older they'll be tempted to further explore Kochalka's growing library of graphic novels, which by now seems to have something for every age, and every interest.
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