Review: ‘A Home for Mr. Easter’
A Home for Mr. Easter
By Brooke A. Allen
NBM, 197 pages, $13.99
What’s nice about the graphic novel format is that is can take great children’s book ideas and let them breathe rather than truncate them to fit the slimmer requirements of the genre. Brooke A. Allen is a SCAD student making a splash with her fist book and it’s a fast-paced, somewhat madcap but tender-hearted tale.
Tesana is an oversize adolescent, never fitting in with her peers, which has resulted in her moving from school to school. Whatever is the cause of her physical and emotional issues, she’s clearly a Special Ed student with anger management problems. Her loving mother seems somewhat clueless about getting her proper school supervision and is at her wit’s end regarding her only child. We don’t know where Dad is and what their circumstances, and frankly, little of it matters.
Our heroine is special and despite her best intentions, things always seem to be spiraling out control. When her guidance counselor suggests she try an extra curricular activity in order to make friends, she tries to assist the pep rally club. They don’t want her and her good intentions backfire, resulting in live rabbits being accidentally released. The story really takes off when Tesana discovers one bunny has stayed by her side and she becomes determined to return the animal to its home.
Just one thing. The rabbit is magical and may well be the proverbial Easter Rabbit, especially since it appears to be laying brightly colored Easter eggs that contain special gifts. Oh yeah, and it talks to Tesana. As she attempts to find the rabbit’s habitat, she encounters a crooked stage magician, animal rights’ activists and a lab using animals as test subjects. With Tesana missing, her mother and the police are also part of the chase, sort of bookending the comical procession.
The evolving relationship between the girl and the rabbit, dubbed Mr. Easter, forms the emotional core of the story. Allen’s storytelling propels the pair from place to place in a somewhat breathless manner but never forgetting to fill each encounter with detail. Her black and white artwork is unqiue and comical, with enough realistic touches to ground the story in our world, without telling us when or where this story takes place. That in itself makes it both magical and timeless.
Her characters are not terribly deep and we don’t stop to learn much about any of them, even Tesana, but they have specific speech patterns and appearances giving the book a nice variety. We’re given pretty much exactly what we need to see and read before moving towards the inevitable and most satisfying conclusion.
This is a terrific first effort and I look forward to more from Ms. Allen. This book is good for early graphic novel readers right on up.