cover image Space Dumplins

Space Dumplins

Craig Thompson. Scholastic/Graphix, $14.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-0-545-56543-1

A third of the way into Thompson's first graphic novel for young readers, his heroine Violet mishears "eschatological" as "scatological." Oddly enough, both adjectives fit the story to a T. Poop is everywhere in Violet's itinerant, extraterrestrial existence%E2%80%94neon green space whale poop, that is. Violet's father, a "lumberjack," harvests it for money (it's an important energy source), while her mother works in the fashion industry; the family's financial stresses are as keenly felt as the tension between blue-collar and creative-class work. When a toxic whale diarrhea spill threatens widespread disaster, and Violet's father goes missing, she is thrust into a position to save the day, joined by Elliot, a timid chicken plagued by portentous visions, and Zacchaeus, a rowdy alien who may be the last of his kind. Thompson (Habibi) has created a richly imagined and gorgeously illustrated universe, and his candy-colored palette belies the class divisions, environmental woes, and corporate/industrial dominance of Violet's future. It's a wild and funny escapade, undergirded by a tender portrait of a family just trying to get by. Ages 8%E2%80%9312. Agent: PJ Mark, Janklow & Nesbit. (Aug.)