An energetic and promising debut is a mad cap fantasy romp and something unique, an Easter themed Graphic Novel.
A Home for Mr. Easter
Published by NBM
Written and illustrated by Brooke A. Allen
Tesana doesn’t fit anywhere. Literally. She probably doesn’t fit into too many clothes. An outcast at school and misunderstood at home, she has moved around quite a bit. Without the chance to make friends, she retreats to a fantastic world of daydreams and her own drawings. These flights of fantasy seem to meet the real world when she signs up to help plan a pep rally. She gets a hold of a special rabbit. The eponymous Mr. Easter. He may be the Easter Bunny. He may be a figment of her imagination.
What happens next is a mix between It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and The Pagemaster. The line between reality and fantasy becomes blurred in this mad cap and energetic effort from newcomer Brooke A. Allen. Her lines are playful and thick. There are some consistency problems that will be fixed with experience. But she skillfully combines a more European art style with the lunacy of a Tex Avery cartoon. There is a joyful exuberance in not only her line, but in the frenetic plot.
It’s unclear at first whether or not everything is one of Tesana’s daydreams. Part of this is due to some clunky exposition. There is a sequence in the beginning that makes the protagonist out to be a dubious narrator. Problem is, she isn’t really the narrator and she is far from unreliable. It is an odd choice as it hurts the narrative going forward.
Equally confusing is the muddled way the rest of the exposition is handled. Tesana is a misfit, this much is clear from the very beginning. However, the tone of the book is far from certain. Is this a Heathers like look at the reality of being a teenager or a High School Musical like story, ignorant of the realities? Maybe this blurred line is intentional, either way, it is confusing to the reader.
It’s a shame to, because once the story gets going it is very entertaining. It is a joyful and bizarre journey as the girl struggles to find where her magical color laying rabbit came from. Like a classic screwball comedy, she ends up with sundry characters of various means, attitudes, and desires.
The real problem with the exposition is it makes a delightful all ages read become a difficult book to recommend. Once it gets going, it is obvious that the book is safe for all ages and concerned parents will relax. It’s the troublesome exposition that never really states if Tesana has special needs or if she is just that unsociably desirable.
For those parents that are willing to put forth the effort to talk with their children about what they read, this could possibly be a rewarding experience for both child and parent. Given context in a school setting it could work as well. As a young reading graphic novel, it is as much fun as one could ask for. For older audiences, it is pure escapist fun that will recall archetypal stories and characters of old and the art is pleasant enough.
While I can’t recommend this graphic novel completely, it is a promising debut from someone who will most certainly be a talent to watch.
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