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.
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.