Emmanuel Guibert, illustrated by Joann Sfar
Young space pirate Sardine checks in for a dozen more mini-adventures, in most of which she, her sidekick Little Louie and hulking captain Yellow Shoulder get the better of evil Supermuscleman and his rubbery orange minion Doc Krok. Along with occasional side trips to play soccer with a giant Dunderhead's detachable navel or to rescue Yellow Shoulder, the heroic pirates sabotage Supermuscleman's child brainwashing machine, treat him to an explosive set of Christmas presents and engage in a high speed chase along the Milky Way that ends suddenly when the Milk turns. In one episode that edges perilously close to over-the-top, a pair of his stuttering star thieves briefly captures them. All related in cartoon panels, printed on coated paper to brighten the colors and featuring easily legible lettering in big dialogue balloons, these episodes might seem a touch repetitious to adults, especially those familiar with volume one (May 2006), but they will keep the younger audiences to whom they're actually addressed chortling. (Graphic novel. 7-9)
Gr. 4-6. The impish graphic novel protagonists Sardine and her uncle Yellow Shoulder return in 12 enjoyable, nutty tales of the fun-loving space pirates versus the slow-witted galactic dictator Supermuscleman. The collection occasionally attains the of gross absurdity (chocolate-defecating flies whose bite induces a sort of disco-coma) and now and then takes satirical shots at targets such as television, salesmen, and George W. Bush. The European sensibility of the French creative team combines with unapologetic lowbrow humor, including barf jokes and shenanigans such as sidekick Little Louie's urinating-on-a-planet trick (shown only in silhouette), which give the book an illicit, forbidden-fruit appeal that some young readers will find irresistible. Sfar, whose recently imported Dungeon series is gaining well-deserved attention, casts the loopiness in sometimes crude, off-kilter visuals that imbue the stories with their crucial weirdness. On proud display here is the idea that that children are our last line of defense against a world that is increasingly bound by stiff guidelines and unnecessary rules.