cover image Kodi


Jared Cullum. Top Shelf Productions, $14.99 paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-6030-9467-2

Katya loves comics, fears water, and has suffered years of bullying from her peers about her protruding ears. Used to being alone, she spurns her Meema’s suggestion to leave their summer cottage and make friends, but when she is caught in a rainstorm, she befriends a larger-than-life bear pinned by a downed tree. A sincere, heartfelt bond blossoms between them through touching moments: feeding Kodi, as she calls him (“That’s enough to feed a bear,” the fishmonger quips after a sale); reading comics; and wandering in the Alaskan woods. When Katya unexpectedly returns home to Seattle, Kodi pursues her to and through the city, hilariously disturbing residents and assisting a local fisherman. Each panel offers detail that merits close and appreciative examination. Lush, thoughtful watercolors breathe a stunning vibrancy into mundane activities (making a cup of tea) and places (a light-saturated urban street), and sweeping landscapes overlooking Alaskan wilderness. Though side stories—notably the absence of Katya’s parents and the cause of her hydrophobia—go unexplored, the duo’s winningly rendered friendship more than makes up for it. Ages 9–12. (Aug.)