cover image Backpack Stories

Backpack Stories

Kevin O'Malley, . . Albert Whitman, $16.99 (31pp) ISBN 978-0-8075-0504-5

Ordinary backpacks get humorous treatment in four brief stories, told in sequential art, that make good use of puns and tropes from comic books, TV and movies. The first story, “History Man,” is a tongue-in-cheek documentary about the “history” of backpacks, full of goofy humor (“Historians believe the first backpack was created by a caveman named Roscoe.... Unfortunately his friends thought he was being attacked by a beaver, and they pounded him with sticks”). “Volcano, or Candy is Dandy,” about a science fair experiment, ends with an array of comic book–style sound effects (“gurgle gurgle! bang, bang! ”) as Brendan's bag turns out to be an excellent volcano. Girls will especially enjoy the tale of “ordinary Ashley” whose backpack turns her into a superhero. But O'Malley (Gimme Cracked Corn and I Will Share ) saves his best lampoon for “Day of the Living Backpack,” a sly take on kids' overloaded bookbags, starring a boy whose hungry backpack starts devouring everything in sight. O'Malley hints at the possibility of a sequel: “Backpacks aren't the only thing with scary surprises inside. Just look inside your... lunchbox !” Ages 7–9. (Sept.)