Patrick in A Teddy Bears Picnic And Other Stories
By Geoffrey Hayes
There was a time, not so long ago, that the old credo of “comics aren’t just for kids anymore” suddenly seemed to be closer to “comics aren’t for kids at all anymore“.
Thankfully, over the last few years this has been changing, and there’s a movement to get children reading comics that hopefully means we’re developing comic readers for generations to come.
And Toon Books is a major part of this - firmly catering to the very youngest end of the readership. We’ve looked at several Toon Books here on the FPI blog since Francoise Mouly started the company in 2008 – and they’ve all, to a greater or lesser degree, proved to be quite beautiful little things, perfect for Mouly’s simple idea of tapping into that moment of childhood reading where visual literacy outstrips word literacy. Or as she put it in an interview with Teachers and Writers Magazine in Summer 2008:
“With the Toon Books we were …. narrowing it down to a very specific moment in childhood development where you enter into school, where you enter into literacy. What we set out to do was to share our love of books, of books in general, of the printed object”
And here’s the latest volume; “Patrick in A Teddy Bear’s Picnic“. Just like all Toon Books it’s beautifully designed and packaged, a small, sturdy hardback (perfect for little hands). And just like most of the Toon Books before it, it’s a lovely, delightful little story.
The thing about these very young books – there’s very little you can really say about the plot. To be honest the entirety of the plot is covered by the Library Of Congress Cataloguing-in-Publication Data summary inside the cover:
“The further adventures of Patrick the little teddy bear as he goes on a picnic with his mother, tries to avoid his nap, goes to the bakery to buy cookies, and contends with the bullying Big Bear.”
And that really is that – 32 pages of young graphic novel. But what that quick plot summary doesn’t convey is the tremendous warmth and gentleness in the stories, and just how great a character little Patrick is; fun, excitable, impatient, and always, always rushing around:
Hayes’ artwork is drawn in coloured pencil, and the bright colours and rounded style give the book an immediacy for younger readers who’ll appreciate it’s simplicity.
His characters are funny, his storytelling simple but so effective. And, like you can see in that page above, his comedy timing is just a delight – the facial expressions alone could bring a smile on the cloudiest of days.
And there’s a strong, yet simple, message here as well – it’s all about having fun and not allowing the nasty things in life – in this case the bullying Big Bear – get the better of you. The bullies shouldn’t be feared, not really. Stick up for yourself, be strong, state your case. And if all else fails …. ROAR like a lion!
Children will delight in Patrick’s simple adventure, they’ll love his excitable character and most of all they’ll find something they recognise – and that’s down to the clever ways that Hayes picks out little traits we can all see in the littlest children, traits the little children this book is written for will instantly recognise and love immediately.
Just like the other Toon Books, Patrick is a wonderfully simple and enjoyable read, perfect for any child developing their reading skills.