Scary Wallpaper Bark

What There Is Before There Is Anything There (A Scary Story) by Liniers. English translation by Elisa Amado. Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press, 2014. 9781554983858. 24pp.

Argentinian cartoonist Liniers has several great books out from TOON (Written and Drawn by Henrietta is probably my favorite), and Enchanted Lion has been publishing his excellent comic strip in English since 2004 (the 4th volume of Macanudo was just published). You should read all of those. And this one, too, of course, which I was delighted to find at my local library.

It’s about that infinite black hole above a boy’s bed, after his parents turn off the light, and the things that come at night after his ceiling disappears. They’re weird little creatures, cartoonily monstrous, and then the terrifying branching darkness (the title character) appears, sending the boy fleeing to his parents’ bed. No moral, no explanation, no lesson.

I wish I’d had this book as a kid. It would have been proof that someone believed me, because I wasn’t lying about the monstrous hand that came out of the wall above the bed in my grandma’s house.

Gordon: Bark to the Future by Ashley Spires. Kids Can Press, 2018. 9781771384100. 72pp.

The 6th (or 7th?) book in the graphic novel series that began in Binky The Space Cat is as fun as the rest. F.U.R.S.T. (Felines of the Universe Ready for Space Travel) has become the more inclusive P.U.R.S.T (Pets of the Universe Ready for Space Travel), and a gadget-inventing dog named Gordon is a member. After aliens (bugs) hatched in the space station’s (house’s) walls, neutralized the cats, and made his humans flee, it’s up to Gordon to deal with the invasion. Without time for tests (he wasted it playing with a ball), Gordon uses his time machine to go back to try to prevent the invasion. But he went back too far — to when Binky was just a kitten and F.U.R.S.T. wanted nothing to do with a dog. Plus he may have just changed history for the worse.

Wallpaper by Thao Lam. Owl Kids, 2018. 9781771472838. 32pp.

This is one of those picture books that’s so beautiful, if you see it you have to pick it up. A big part of that is Lam’s cut paper artwork, which she assembles into colorful scenes full of expressive characters. Even the plain-seeming flowered wallpaper she creates is amazing.

A shy girl, alone in her house, hides when she’s noticed by three neighbor kids in a treehouse outside her window. Hiding behind her wall, she notices a small tear in her wallpaper. A single bird emerges, then a flock. When she peels it back, she finds herself in a forest, where a toothy three-eyed monster suddenly appears. But is it chasing her, or does it want to be friends? Doesn’t matter (at least at first), because it scares her, and sends her on an adventure across and into different walls that are full of textures and animals and loveliness.

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