By Frank Viva
32 pages, color
Published by Toon Books
Toon Books is a publisher that specializes in a synthesis of children’s books and comics. These books use the structure of both mediums to form beautiful graphic novels aimed at children of different ages that not only serve as gateways to comics, but also are genuinely enjoyable in their own right. With three new books being released by Toon Books, today’s “Quick Takes” reviews focus on the latest publications from Toon.
I’d never heard of Frank Viva before A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse, but now that I’ve seen his art I won’t forget him. Viva’s art looks almost like pieces of construction paper meticulously cut out and glued together onto the page; big, beautiful shapes with colors that are soothing yet noticeable. (In fact, the book was constructed through Adobe Illustrator, which is only sad in that I’d love to have originals on my wall from Viva.) Viva tackles all sorts of images here, from orca and penguins to icebergs and waves. The Antarctic region comes across as a beautiful and soothing place thanks to Viva, and for that alone you’ll want to look at A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse.
Fortunately the storytelling is strong here, too. Aimed at very young readers, Viva uses patterns and repetition to keep the attention of the little kids, but fortunately he also keeps it from becoming annoying to adults. Whenever Mouse offers up ideas, Viva divides the landscape-oriented pages into four spots so that parents can point to each and say the item being illustrated there; it’s an effective way to teach kids about both mundane and out-of-the-ordinary things. A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse is enchanting, and hopefully it’s not the first trip that Viva is taking Mouse, his explorer friend, or us. I’m a Viva fan now, and once you look at this book, you’ll be too.