The multi-volume Flight anthology series has introduced a group of young cartoonists influenced more by animation than by American comics; this work is its new sibling, featuring 10 Flight artists writing and drawing short, whimsical stories aimed at middle-graders. Kibuishi leads it off with the two strongest stories: a cheerfully surreal episode of his own boy-and-his-dog series, Copper, in which the heroes traverse a chasm by jumping on giant mushrooms that turn out to be the heads of threatening creatures, and Johane Matte's "Perfect Cat," a little fable written and drawn in the style of mod '60s animation, about a grouchy alley cat in ancient Egypt who learns that feline perfection has its downside. The rest are more hit-and-miss: Kean Soo's "First Snow," an episode of his girl-and-her-monster series, Jellaby, is nearly plotless, and Jake Parker's "Missile Mouse: The Guardian Prophecy" is pro forma sci-fi. Some pieces start with a funny premise (Ben Hatke's "If Wishes Were Socks" concerns a girl, her robot and a magical wishing sock), but then spin their wheels. The book's full-color art is consistently stylish--Matthew Armstrong's "Snow Cap" stands out visually--but readers may find themselves wishing for better developed tales. Ages 8-up. (Apr.)[Page 63]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Gr 4-8 -In this companion book to the "Flight" series for older readers, the editor succeeds in putting together a remarkable collection that will appeal to a younger audience. Kean Soo's "Jellaby," for example, shows the humorous and contemplative moments between a girl and a friendly monster as they experience their first snowfall together. More comedic is Kibuishi's story about crossing a ravine of mushrooms and Johane Matte's Egyptian cat whose haughtiness dissolves into grossly indulgent self-pity. Perhaps most rousing is Jake Parker's "Missile Mouse," an action-packed space drama complete with a prophecy, explosions, and lessons about responsibility and trust. While there is no underlying theme to the anthology, every story has a layout that promotes an acute sense of pacing and showcases the crisp, defined, full-color art indicative of some of the creators' animation backgrounds. Flight Explorer is an excellent introduction to graphic novels as it shows that you're never too young to laugh, think, and take part in some visual feasting.-Joanna K. Fabicon, Los Angeles Public Library[Page 156]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.