cover image Squirrel Do Bad (Trubble Town #1)

Squirrel Do Bad (Trubble Town #1)

Stephan Pastis. Aladdin, $21.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-5344-9610-1

There’s trouble in Trubble Town when a child experiences the butterfly effect firsthand in this loony graphic novel series starter by Pastis (the Timmy Failure series). It all starts in chapter zero—the first of many offbeat chapter conventions—when tan-skinned, purple-haired Wendy the Wanderer, left with a neglectful babysitter, heads out to fulfill her name’s calling. She begins with a trip into her own Trubble Town, but things immediately go haywire when Wendy shares a chocolate and marshmallow concoction called “mooshy” with a Christmas sweater–knitting rodent, whose sugar-fueled reaction results in a mayoral decree: “No more mooshies for Squirrely McSquirrel.” Mayhem ensues, and a series of cascading catastrophes leave Wendy scrambling to make things right before her father comes home. Along the way, Wendy’s efforts bring her into contact with countless quirky individuals, including a squirrel-hating sheriff, a Nutman who lives in a doughnut-shaped house, and a group of activist moles. Pastis’s hand-lettered, rough-hewn digital illustrations feature flat bright colors and simple character design. Deadpan humor abounds alongside a cartoonlike approach to violence and destruction (buildings explode, angry mobs stampede and loot), but it’s really the utterly unpredictable, absurdist plotting that propels this screwball adventure forward. Ages 8–12. Agent: Daniel Lazar, Writers House. (Aug.)