Everything about this picture book screams: ART OBJECT!!
From the cover:
to the boards hiding under the dust jacket:
To the end papers (apologies for the glare on these two spreads):
To the exquisitely detailed spreads:
This book is a visual feast.
And the story? It is dream-like science fiction in picture book form.
Barnabus, half mouse-half elephant, is a “failed” perfect pet experiment. (Adults might start thinking here about scientists tendencies to mess with nature, yes?) He is tiny, but his heart is huge. He lives among his friends in solitary bell jars, all “failed” pet experiments.
When it’s rumored that the failed pets are all going to be recycled, Barnabus uses his voice in an ingenious way to free himself and his friends. What a metaphor for our times!!!
The story includes evil green rubber suits (that can be identified as subterranean humans) and a fabulous chase sequence, ending (take a deep breath) in a lovely place. A place that might not always be perfect, but it’s a place where friends stick together and help each other survive.
And as an art object, I will repeat, it is exquisite.
This is a first collaboration for all three Fan brothers. I hope to see many more in their future.
Draw your own pictures of “failed” pets, then adopt them.
Make an origami mouse and origami elephant. How are they alike? How are they different?
Play online pipe-connecting games that resemble the underground pipes below the perfect pet shop.
Title: The Barnabus Project
Author/Illustrators: Terry, Eric, and Devin Fan
Publisher: Tundra, 2020
Themes: nothing is impossible, using your voice, friendship
Ages: Pre-k to adult
For more perfect picture book recommendations, please visit Susanna Hill’s blog.
17 thoughts on “The Barnabus Project – Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF”
WOW! Can’t wait to get my hands on this. Thanks for sharing.
I’ve been poring over this book, myself…I love the art – and how radical of a cover! I got it from the library so there was no jacket. 🙂 The story is endearing, engaging and one that kids will connect with.
Yes, their authorial voice speaks strongly through their art. And the cover! Just wow!
I want to read this book to see if my great 6-year-old great grandson would like it. Is there some STEM in it (the end papers?) I really am intrigued by your share today. Thanks. You find such great books!
I would say that it has more fantastic elements than science, unless thematically, you could say that it may be seen as a cautionary tale about scientists creating new life forms. That said, I really see it being about all kinds of marginalized citizens working together to survive, make it through tough times, and perhaps reach a place where they feel like they belong. But the ending isn’t saccharine.
beautiful! And certainly makes me want to go out and free some more creatures!
Yes! I pretty much am enamored with all of their books. And this one makes me cheer those “rejected” creatures on!
The Fan Brothers create such fascinating work! Thanks for sharing this.
Yes, they do! I’ve got several of their books, and I could look at them for hours. Who am I kidding? I HAVE looked at their books for hours….
The books are so intricately done it’s hard not to want to revisit them.
Bet you don’t this, but I adore this book and The Fan Brothers! Great review, Jilanne. I like the origami mouse & elephant. Now just need to find one for a cockroach!
😀not surprised you’re a fan of the Fans! So am I!
I love sci-fi and was so happy to find this book! Ah, what fun to read. And the art is awesome.
I’ve been wondering about this one. Now that I’ve read your review I have to find & read it! I really love these thought-provoking picture books (Tundra is a great source for them).
Yes, they are. They’re a terrific publisher!
This looks like something that I would put on a coffee table and people would gather around (although that’s not allowed at the moment) and have a good thumb through. Nothing beats a story about genetic splicing.