Saturday, August 7, 2010

Book Review: Chicagoland: The Drained Brains Caper by Trina Robbins

Title: Chicagoland #1: The Drained Brains Caper
Author: Trina Robbins
Publisher: Graphic Universe
Release Date: 09/01/2010
ISBN: 9780761346012

With eco-friendly lifestyles becoming increasingly more visible & popular, it makes good sense for someone to put out a book filled with those themes & similar ones. After all, kids can be into cruelty-free pet shops, animal rescue, & anti-establishment issues too, you know.

Chicagoland #1 follows the adventures of Trina (a free spirited young vegetarian who isn't afraid to speak her mind) & Raf (a computer savvy son of a pet-free supply store) as they attempt to figure out exactly what is wrong with Trina's summer school. Initially Raf is slow to warm up to our haiku creating heroine but he slowly begins to come around as Trina opens up to him about her disastrous school past as well as her creepy new school environment. Little do they know that there's a heinous plot behind the sloppy joe wielding staff members & Stepford Child-esque school children...

Robbins set out to create a comic filled with issues near & dear to her heart. For the most part she succeeds with creating a story that will not only strike a chord in many children's hearts (who hasn't had a teacher who tried to make us conform?) but also show them several issues that need to be addressed. (It'd be fantastic if there were more pet-free stores out there!) The artwork is wonderfully playful & characters such as the adorable Bradley stand out as the highlights of the book.

It's not all fun & games in the book though. While I agree whole-heartedly with many of Robbin's viewpoints, at times those themes seemed to be a little awkwardly placed. There were also points in the book where the character speak seemed to be a little off for kids who are supposed to be in their early teens. I also wish that there were a few links to some kid-friendly sites where kids can learn about some of the issues discussed in the book. But those were somewhat minor complaints & overall this was a decently solid book that should appeal to a wide age group of kids. (I could see my 6 year old nephew totally digging Bradly.) While the book is full of various themes (too many to list here), Robbins manages to make the child aware of them without making them overly horrifying. (This is aimed towards a younger audience, after all.)

In the end, parents can relax in peace, knowing that their kids are not only learning valuable lessons but also reading a book that has no real violence to speak of or objectionable language. Very kid safe, which is becoming a rarity with some of the books out there today.

(ARC provided by NetGalley)

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