We Have a Playdate

Frank W. Dormer. Amulet, $12.99 (96p) ISBN 978-1-4197-5273-5

In four chapters each centered on a piece of classic playground equipment—the slide, the swings, the monkey bars, the see-saw—this early reader comic by Dormer (Firefighter Duckies!) chronicles the pleasures, pratfalls, and offbeat problem-solving opportunities of unsupervised fun. Gathered at the playground are white-hued, bullet-shaped Tuna, who sports a narwhal-esque spike; Margo, a pink duck with a toothy grin; and yellow snake Noodle. They’re soon joined by Ralph, a brown bear, who quickly fits right in. Along the way, Dormer reveals Tuna’s mediation skills, which hold the group together; Margo’s elaborate pretend play fantasy as “Cahooga Duck! Hero of All Duck Calls”; Noodle’s intermittently successful engineering prowess; and Bear’s lack of knowledge about their own strength. Crisp, highly distilled art and unconventionally streamlined characters capture the group’s silliness and rapport, while snappy all-dialogue text includes wonderful euphemisms for mild injuries (“Noodle sizzled his zipzoo again,” observes Bear) and occasional jokes aimed slightly over readers’ heads (mention, for example, of the drag coefficient’s effect on swinging). As the sun sets, the playmates concur that it’s been a playdate to remember, and readers should readily agree. Ages 6–9. [em]Agent: Emily Mitchell, Wernick & Pratt. (Aug.) [/em]