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Overview

Get ready for this hilarious cartoon collection that invites readers into the singularly comical world of John O'Brien. In multiple-panel cartoons, a cast of bizarre characters find themselves in a lopsided universe where things are never as they seem. It's a universe where the moon is a Frisbee and if you don't watch out, a hungry pizza pie may gobble you up. Visual gags will tickle readers' funny bones and tease their brains, sometimes all at once. Fans of cartoons and humor can expect the unexpected in this ...

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Overview

Get ready for this hilarious cartoon collection that invites readers into the singularly comical world of John O'Brien. In multiple-panel cartoons, a cast of bizarre characters find themselves in a lopsided universe where things are never as they seem. It's a universe where the moon is a Frisbee and if you don't watch out, a hungry pizza pie may gobble you up. Visual gags will tickle readers' funny bones and tease their brains, sometimes all at once. Fans of cartoons and humor can expect the unexpected in this collection from an original comic mind.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
New Yorker cartoonist O’Brien toys with perception and subverts expectations in 30 brief and clever stories—revolving around a farmer, chef, group of woodsmen, knight, doorman, and clown—that unfold in two to six panels each. Some stories are wordless (in the first, a cow jumps over the moon, after which a dog leaps up, grabs the moon like a Frisbee, and delivers it to a farmer), and when text is involved, it’s fair game, too: after a girl asks a clown for a “balloon hat,” he uses her speech bubble to do just that. O’Brien has great fun playing with puns and cartooning conventions, and readers will be delighted by the results. Ages 8–up. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
*"New Yorker cartoonist O’Brien toys with perception and subverts expectations in 30 brief and clever stories. . .O’Brien has great fun playing with puns and cartooning conventions, and readers will be delighted by the results." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
Children's Literature - Raina Sedore
A pizza eats the chef who made it. A professionally uniformed doorman stands near an entrance merely to activate the automatic door for people. Two knights use their jousting lances to knit a sweater. New Yorker Cartoonist John O'Brien uses his unique illustration style to depict over fifty pages of mostly wordless punch lines. Some of the sequences are clever plays on perspective and the assumptions viewers make about the images they are looking at. Some of the sequences are plays on words. Some of the sequences have no punch line at all and merely come across as odd. O'Brien's illustrations are made with just pen, ink, and watercolor on Bristol board, but ever-present spots give the images an Impressionistic feel. Although the simplicity of the formatting and wordplay is accessible to children, some of the humor may only land with adults. This is an uneven offering which will find and please a niche audience. Reviewer: Raina Sedore
School Library Journal
Gr 2 Up—A series of recurring characters acts out a variety of gag scenarios in mostly silent, multipanel setups with a well-constructed, elementary twist in the final image. O'Brien provides a series of jokes that operate on multiple levels, most of which exhibit a visual pun at their heart as well as a secondary joke. The stippled texture of the watercolor backgrounds gives the stylized cartoons an interesting mosaic feel that seems slightly archaic. This, combined with the stock characters-a clown, a knight, a woodcutter, a farmer-and the formal setup/twist structure of the gags can make the entire work feel curiously medieval, as if the jokes could be Chaucerian in origin, the odd appearance of a telephone or an elevator notwithstanding. This doesn't make them inaccessible to a younger audience, who tend to enjoy wordplay and simple absurdities, but it does make the book unlikely to create passionate devotees who will call friends over to share in the joke. The concept of the title, that things are not always what they appear, will provide some whimsical enjoyment, but probably won't live up to its secondary aspect: that readers might revisit and reread the content a second or third time.—Benjamin Russell, Belmont High School, NH
Kirkus Reviews
Renaissance guy O'Brien (who, in addition to penning New Yorker cartoons and illustrating prolifically for children, plays banjo and lifeguards in North Wildwood, N.J.) delivers wacky vignettes riffing on six professional tropes: farmer, chef, woodsman, knight, doorman and clown. Throughout, double entendres and puns are made visual in titled cartoon strips composed of two to six panels each. In the group of stories about the profession of chef, a hatless pizza man rolls out and tosses dough that descends to settle on his head as a voluminous toque, and in "The Alphabet Soup," the chef appeases an angry diner by fishing out three offending letters from his bowl: F, L and Y. A doorman's thought bubble depicts a nearby water cooler; as he fetches a drink, the water cooler's own thought bubble depicts the doorman. O'Brien finds particular fodder in a cartoonist's stock trappings: A noisy snorer's "ZZZZs" are shooed out a lobby window by the doorman, and one of the silliest bits has a dairy farmer, after looking fruitlessly for his cow's udders, milking a word balloon that contains the cow's "MOO!" Stippled watercolor in the muted tones of old comics underlie crosshatched ink drawings, and O'Brien's own hand lettering appears throughout. If the laughs come a tad unevenly, come they do: good, absurdist fun with sly, existential winks. (Picture book. 5-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590788943
  • Publisher: Highlights Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2012
  • Pages: 64
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

John O'Brien has illustrated more than ninety books. His cartoons appear in the New Yorker and other publications. He is the only banjo- and concertina-playing children's book illustrator who is also senior lieutenant in the North Wildwood, New Jersey, Beach Patrol. He lives in Delran, New Jersey.

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