Sara Varon is becoming hopefully a bit more well known at this point having several published comic books released now. Although she has a nice website she has not really published anything in an online format. Given her interest in telling tales most interesting to young children I’m not sure whether the lack of a web presence is a bad idea or not.
But on to the new book! In fact so new it’s not out yet (it’s due in March 2009). I was lucky though to receive a review copy of Varon’s latest book, Chicken and Cat Clean Up. Like Varon’s earlier works Robot Dreams and Chicken and Cat, this sequel to Chicken and Cat is a speechless comic (I would say "wordless" but there are words in the environment of the comic, on trucks, stores, etc) which I would imagine makes it exceptionally attractive to young children just beginning or not quite yet reading. In this sequel, Chicken runs a housecleaning service with his pal Cat. It’s a short funny tale that even has a bit of a lesson (but not really anything heavy-handed).
I really like Varon’s simple, colorful art and she comes through here again. Given her decision to not provide speech to her characters she really has to come through on the art, particularly in the body and facial composition, and I think this book works wonderfully in that department. Varon’s art is a good example of how one doesn’t need to adopt a realistic style to convey a wide range of emotion through expression. She also does a good job of including lots of funny visual details in her background work which while sometimes busy does not overwhelm.
I have two daughters squarely in the age bracket these books must be aimed at and both enjoyed Varon’s most recent effort. It’s my littlest daughter in Kindergarden though who has become the voracious comic book reader and so it’s always interesting to see her specific reactions. The little one is reading really well now and I think that might explain why her only complaint was the wordlessness of the book. Still she’s read it at least 3 times that I’m aware of — so that’s pretty good (Owlie, in contrast, did not get a reread).
Note: The publisher provided a free copy to ComixTalk for review purposes.