Graphix, 2015. 978-0545565417
Synopsis: When Violet Marlocke’s school is eaten by space whales, she’s excited by the prospect of being able to stay home. But when her dad goes missing on the job and her mother insists they stay on the station, Violet decides it’s up to her to rescue her father and bring her family back together again. Together with her friends Zacchaeus (one of two living Lumpkins) and Elliot (a rooster who identifies more as a chicken), she’ll traverse space to find her dad…any maybe even a few other things along the way.
Why I picked it up: I love Thompson’s other work (Blankets, Habibi, and Goodbye, Chunky Rice) and I was super excited that he was putting out a book for all ages. I will read everything this man writes forever.
Why I finished it: Thompson has created a sort of space opera in which children take charge of their own future and prove that age has no correlation to greatness. The future sees humanity much the same as today: the haves and the have nots, and perhaps a few classes in between. Those lucky enough to live on space stations rely heavily on people like Violet and her family to help provide them with the daily comforts on which they seem to be dependant. Meanwhile, the rest of society has to find ways to make due with what they are given, often recycling parts over and over again to keep things running. As a result, there’s not only a junk yard, but a giant wall of debris that separates one side of the galaxy from the other; perhaps another metaphor for the societal divisions. The story tends to meander in some places, but even during the slower portions, Thompson is rounding out his characters – even the secondary ones – to make the world that much more real for the reader. We grow to care about these people (well, most of them anyway) and we want to see everything work out for them by the conclusion, as harrowing and dangerous as things may seem. Thompson’s wit and humor are just as present in the plot as it is in the art. I found it amusing that purple space whales have green poop, and the coloring on the aliens is just as wacky as their personalities. And whether you identify with just one character or all of them, this story has a little bit of something for everyone.
Other related materials: Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm; Babymouse series by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm; The Chronicles of Claudette series by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado; Zita the Spacegirl series by Ben Hatke; Cleopatra in Space series by Mike Maihack; Princeless series by Jeremy Whitley and M. Goodwin; Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooke Allen, and Shannon Watters; Nimona by Noelle Stevenson; American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang; In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang