Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Review: Sidekicks

Written and Illustrated by Dan Santat
Aurthur A. Levine Books
Ages 9-12

There must be something in the genetic code of writer/illustrators that gives their work the sizzle and pop of eternal childhood. Whatever it is they were born with, or drank from, they've got a special spark that leaps off the page.

Dan Santat's latest release, Sidekicks, is proof positive that some writers don't just write for small people experiencing childhood—they embody it. The illustrations are as smashtastic as any follower of Santat's work would expect, but to have them in a graphic novel length work is a real treat. He's got a gift for storytelling without overtelling, letting the artwork do its work to convey the energy and emotion of a superhero in peril. Well...maybe not so much peril as allergies and age.

Santat turns tired comic tropes into graphic novel gold as the hero, Captain Amazing, announces auditions for a sidekick to help him battle the baddies without running out of breath. His pet dog, hamster and lizard want the spot, but there's one problem that stands in their way: Fluffy, aka The Claw, Captain Amazing's former sidekick. Turns out things went south some years back and Fluffy is feeling a bit bitter. Santat's ability to weave flashbacks into the storyline without disrupting the plot's forward movement shows he's earned his chops as a high ranking writer slash illustrator slash big kid with loads of talent.

This will make a great Christmas present for those looking ahead...

Source: I bought my book from Mr. Santat when he offered autographed copies on his website. I'm not sure if that offer still holds, but he's kind enough to provide a link to Indiebound as a way to encourage the support of independent booksellers.

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