By Craig Thompson
Available now from Graphix (Scholastic)
Craig Thompson is the author of numerous acclaimed graphic novels, including BLANKETS and HABIBI. His first graphic novel for young readers is a heartwarming tale of family, both the kind you're born with and the kind you find, and whale diarrhea. All in all, it's a space adventure that all ages can enjoy.
Violet, her mother, and father live happily in a space trailer park. He salvages whale poop, which is used for energy. Her mother works in fashion and just got a job on a satellite, a job that could move their family up in the world. I think the class conflicts that run through SPACE DUMPLINS are well done. There are arguments kids might've heard in their own homes, but translated into space (which makes everything more exciting). The environmental themes are also presented well, just goofy enough not to be overly heavy handed.
My favorite thing about this graphic novel might be all the puns. I think I'm going to have to read it again to make sure that I get all of them. There's a lot of cleverness flying about in the text and the images. Thompson's space is a busy place, full of activity and bright colors. (The contrasting colors make it easier to see what's happening.) There's all sorts of details to distract and catch your eye. I think the hyperactive style suits the wackiness of the story as well as the age group.
I don't think SPACE DUMPLINS will be a graphic-novel classic like BLANKETS or HABIBI. But it is fun, sweet, and silly. That makes it a pretty appealing read.