Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox: The Great Pancake Adventure

Matt Luckhurst. Abrams, $17.95 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4197-0420-8
Newcomer Luckhurst’s manic gouache artwork and hand-lettered typography grab attention in this pancake-themed twist on the Paul Bunyan legend. Luckhurst leaves it to parents to explain what a lumberjack is and instead focuses on Paul and Babe’s steady diet of pancakes, despite Paul’s mother’s attempts to feed them healthier food (“I just cannot keep feeding you and Babe all these pancakes,” she complains, wielding a spatula and whisk, surrounded by stacks of flapjacks. “I have fields to tend”). Paul and Babe leave home to seek their (pancake) fortune; in one episode, Babe chases a tasty pancake and Paul tries to hold him back: “When Babe finally caught the pancake, he and Paul had dug up a huge swath of dirt that is now called the Grand Canyon.” After milking the pancake jokes for as long as he can, Luckhurst capitulates to the vegetable lobby and sends Paul and Babe home to eat broccoli. The sheer voltage of Luckhurst’s artwork—Robert Neubecker by way of Robert Crumb—makes this a notable debut, one whose boisterous display type lends itself to noisy readalouds. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/17/2012
Release date: 10/01/2012
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