I, Parrot

Deb Olin Unferth and Elizabeth Haidle. Black Balloon (PGW, dist.), $18.95 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-936787-65-4
Unferth (Wait Till You See Me Dance, Revolution) dexterously juggles pathos and humor in her debut graphic novel, an intimate and contemplative reflection on the slow revelatory dawning of what it means to care for something—or someone. Taking care of birds should be easy, right? Daphne’s desperate for a steady job and income so she can gain custody of her beloved son, Noah, but she didn’t expect to be overseeing 42 rare parrots, three existential house painters (all named Lee Anthony), an infestation of bird mites, and the judgmental parrot care guidebook that gives this graphic novel its title. Haidle’s artwork is a revelation: her exaggerated cartoon people (and almost-photorealistic parrots) are fluid and natural. But it’s her layouts that provoke and enthrall: trains of thought portrayed in puffy, round flowchart balloons, short staccato panels on a single page transforming into time-lapse montages, and Daphne’s dreams spreading from dark black clouds of flying birds into white, unbordered freedom. It’s unexpectedly funny, sad, scary, affirming and totally engrossing. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/13/2017
Release date: 11/01/2017
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