CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 12 . . . . November 18, 2011
Binky Under Pressure is the third instalment in Kids Can Press’ “Binky” graphic novel series by Ashley Spires. Binky is a housecat with delusions of grandeur. He thinks he is a space cat protecting the house (his space station) and his humans from invasion from aliens (insects and bugs).
Binky Under Pressure is 64 pages in length. Most pages consist of four to six panels, but several pages have more. The different sizes and placement of the panels add to the visual interest of the presentation while also moving the narrative forward. The illustrations consist of muted colours, with only brief sprinkles of anything other than browns and greys or black and white. The illustrations were rendered in ink and watercolour, although the copyright page tells readers that “cat fur, bits of kitty litter and the occasional paw print” were also used.
The book is an easy one to read. Even early elementary readers will successfully navigate the uncluttered text. The large print and easy font make this book (and its predecessors) suitable reading material for young readers developing their reading independence. As with the other books in the series, the text consists mostly of narration. Unlike in many graphic novels, here there is very little that is voice balloon text.
Despite the introduction of a new cat character, Binky Under Pressure basically provides more of the same that readers have come to expect from the first two titles in the series. Fans of the series will be happy with that, as they will be that the concluding scenes of this book set things up for a fourth instalment. The danger, however, is that the series is becoming tired. Ashley Spires will need to inject something special into future episodes to keep the series fresh and vibrant. The humour of a farting cat wears thin if there is little else to laugh about.
Just as the series is in danger of doing, in Binky Under Pressure, Binky has become stuck in a rut. Binky’s life has become dull, and he has settled into a routine—an endless round of sleeping and eating, broken only occasionally by the capture of an alien invader. All of this changes for Binky with the arrival of Gracie, a brown tabby who immediately wins the affections of Binky’s humans.
I recommend Binky Under Pressure for fans of the “Binky” series and for cat enthusiasts interested in finding out just what their pets are thinking when they seem merely to be sleeping through each day. For others, however, they will be best served by the original title in the series.
Recommended with reservations.
Dr. Gregory Bryan is a professor at the University of Manitoba where he specializes in literature for children.
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