Thursday, November 15, 2012

Easy Reader Radar: A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse by Frank Viva (Cybils Nominee)

A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse. by Frank Viva. September 25, 2012. Toon Books. 32 pages. ISBN: 9781935179191

A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse is a Toon Book by Frank Viva, wherein a man sails to Antarctica in the company of an impatient mouse who can’t wait to arrive, and then can’t wait to go home.

By far, the most appealing aspect of this book is the artwork. The color scheme, the changes in perspective, and the modern-looking figures give the book a sophisticated appearance that catches the eye and draws the reader into the story. I love the way Viva creates the visual effect of the boat’s wake as it moves through the water, and the simple changes in shape that convey the man’s moods, which vary depending on Mouse’s behavior.

The text, too, takes an interesting approach to telling this story. In between pleas to go home, Mouse makes various observations about life at sea, each of which results in a four-paneled page where each panel shows just one word or phrase and Mouse’s interpretation of it. At times, these paneled pages just feel like excuses to infuse random vocabulary into the text, but in some cases, they do enrich the story. My favorite use of the four-paneled page is when the man says, “Look at the big sky! It makes me feel as small as...” and Mouse tries to guess the end of his analogy. I’m impressed by any book for beginning readers that manages to successfully use a simile, and this one pulls it off.

A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse
is a fresh addition to the Toon Books series. It takes an unfamiliar situation - traveling by boat to Antarctica - and makes it easy for kids to relate to it by introducing the child-like character of Mouse. This book would pair well with the Dodsworth series, which also focuses on travel to unfamiliar and exotic locations. I think the dynamic between the man and his mouse will also appeal to readers who like Curious George, Elephant and Piggie, and Frog and Toad.

I borrowed A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse from my local public library.

For more about this book, visit Goodreads and Worldcat.

NOTE: This book was nominated by  Lizjonesbooks for the 2012 Cybils Awards in the Easy Reader/Early Chapter Book category. I am a first-round panelist in this category, but this review reflects my opinions only, not those of any other panelist, or the panel as a whole. Thanks! 

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