This may sound strange, but I felt like I knew Bumperboy even before I read Bumperboy Loses His Marbles! Maybe it’s because for a while now I’ve had friends who’ve been telling me how cute Debbie Huey’s mini-comics are. Maybe it’s all of the great pictures from the Bumperboy website, with a little cardboard stand-up of Bumperboy posing with various people and places all over the world. Or maybe it’s just because Bumperboy looks so cute?
Bumperboy’s ready to go to the big marble tournament and he couldn’t be more excited! He’s got his Grandma’s special shooter, after all, and he and his good friend Gordy are both really good at marbles. Unfortunately, that mean bird Frederik is determined to win the marble tournament himself, and if that means making Bumperboy lose all his marbles down the Borp Hole that leads to other worlds… well, Bumperboy and Bumperpup have got some work ahead of them if they’re going to find all of the marbles in time for the big tournament!
I think what initially struck me so much with Bumperboy Loses His Marbles! is that while this is clearly a book that is aimed at all ages, Huey never talks down to her audience. There’s a lot of great humor on display here, from names of the Onomatopeople being Bam, Bap, and Pow; to having jokes like the marbles literally falling off of a rocker, or Bumperpup going off the deep end into a lake. Huey assumes that you’re smart enough to get the jokes, and for that matter, her characters and situations. The book doesn’t take time out to dump heavy levels of exposition on the reader, and it never needs to. Everything’s presented in context, and is perfectly understandable; Huey doesn’t have to explain that Frederik’s not to be trusted, for instance, or that Gordy is Bumperboy’s best friend. It’s all there, easily understandable. Most importantly, though, Bumperboy Loses His Marbles! is just plain fun. The story moves at a good clip, and for someone whose eyes would normally be glazing over at the mention of the big marbles tournament, Huey does a good job of making it fun and suspenseful.
The art in Bumperboy Loses His Marbles! is, unsurprisingly, just as good as the writing. Huey keeps it simple with appealing character designs, from Gordy’s socks to Bumperboy’s spaceman-like look. I didn’t know that an otter wearing a swim cap could be so amazingly cute, for instance, but Huey has shown me the error of my ways. The storytelling is straight-forward and to the point, something that’s critically important for an all-ages book. It’s really easy to follow the action from one panel to the next, and with such an inviting and relaxing style it’s a pleasure to do so.
Bumperboy Loses His Marbles! is a fun little book; it’s not the next great literary novel but it’s not trying to be. It’s shooting for enjoyable (no marbles pun intended) and that’s exactly what it is. I found myself smiling the whole way through the book, and I’d be surprised if it was possible to get to the end without doing so. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for whatever Huey does next.