Hearts: Toon Books Level 1by Thereza Rowe (Illustrator)
When Penelope the Fox drops her heart into the sea, she’s swept off on a perilous journey, dodging sharks and royal cat-guards until a cartwheeling chicken leads her to the land of lost things. Young readers will fall in love with Thereza Rowe’s bold and playful designs. And as they follow Penelope (and her heart!), they will learn what is truly
When Penelope the Fox drops her heart into the sea, she’s swept off on a perilous journey, dodging sharks and royal cat-guards until a cartwheeling chicken leads her to the land of lost things. Young readers will fall in love with Thereza Rowe’s bold and playful designs. And as they follow Penelope (and her heart!), they will learn what is truly precious.
K-Gr 3—This comic, with its limited vocabulary for emergent readers, has a complex, mystical story line, which will also appeal to older children. Penelope, a fox with a broken heart, pursues that heart through water and air. Encountering cat guards at a palace, she leaps on a black horse with a red mane, retrieves her heart, and loses it as a spear carries it away. Then the fox is in a city, sobbing on a park bench before catching a double-decker red bus. A chicken, who has danced on the bus roof, takes her to the garden of lost things, where they find the heart but encounter a monster. Penelope sacrifices her heart to save her new friend. Cut-paper illustrations feature flat colors and clean lines. The visual narrative flows through large and small panels, where speech bubbles and sound effects are used sparingly but to great effect. For instance, "BUM BA DUM…BUM BA DUM" appears in two crescents, emphasizing the heart shape of the palace while also mimicking a beating heart. Youngsters will return to this tale of old and new friendship and loss, finding in Penelope's experiences something that speaks to their own hearts. An author's note discusses the story's origin, while endpapers addressed to parents and teachers give tips for reading comics with kids. An unusual and unique choice for all libraries.—Mary Jean Smith, formerly at Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TN
A nearly wordless tale, billed as "Level One" but probably with a more natural audience among teens or adults, centers on a long chase after a fugitive broken heart. The departure of her best friend in a rocket ship leaves Penelope—depicted in the geometrical, silkscreen-style art with a human body and the head and tail of a fox—sitting beside the sea with her cracked heart in her lap. When that heart slips into the water and is carried away by dolphins, birds, a paper airplane and other agents, she pursues it, picking up a chicken-headed, cartwheeling companion she has met along the way. Penelope finds it at last in a "garden of lost things" but then sacrifices it to rescue her new friend from a toothy monster. In return, her new friend presents her with an egg that cracks open in the final scene to reveal an unmarked replacement heart. Sound effects and short lines of dialogue in the large sequential panels won't help younger readers make sense of either the characters or the sketchy storyline. A metaphorical journey toward healing from traumatic loss inspired, writes Rowe, by the death of her cat—not, as the cover protests, a "first comic for brand-new readers!" (Graphic picture book. 13 & up)
Meet the Author
Thereza Rowe is a Brazilian-British artist living in London. Of this, her first book, she says that inspiration for the story came at a particularly hard time in her life: "Suddenly came a wee voice saying, ‘Whatever happens, never lose your heart. Everything is going to be just fine.’ That’s when I started doodling Penelope. I think of myself as a fox sitting on a cliff, and I wondered what would happen if I really lost my heart."
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