cover image Stinky Cecil in Operation Pond Rescue

Stinky Cecil in Operation Pond Rescue

Paige Braddock. Andrews McMeel, $9.99 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-1-4494-5711-2

Braddock, best known for her long-running syndicated comic, Jane’s World, introduces the wisecracking denizens of a pond that is threatened by highway construction. Braddock’s expertise with the pacing of three-panel comics is on full display—while there is an overall trajectory, the story hops from one zinger to the next. Animal-themed puns are abundant (“I’m a toad, not a tree frog, you know,” grouses protagonist Cecil, as he unsuccessfully attempts to scale the tree where Jeff, a “free-range hamster,” lives in luxury), as are gotcha gags. “Poor Cecil... he hates flying,” deadpans Jeremy, a worm, after a hawk snatches the toad away. Braddock’s polished cartoons (seen in b&w by PW) play up the story’s broad comedy (several jokes revolve around Cecil’s scent-based defense mechanisms and Jeremy’s lack of appendages) and move the action forward steadily in sequential panels—typically two to four per page. The focus is on entertainment over ecology, but readers will still pick up useful information, particularly in a series of mini-adventures that close out the story. Ages 7–12. (Feb.)