This book came out at the end of the summer, but I finally got a chance to read it, and it's too good not to review. "Stinky," by Eleanor Davis, is part of the Raw Junior TOON Books line -- a series of young readers comics, in hardcover form, written and illustrated by some of the best independent creators around. As the father of a seven-year old son and a four-year old daughter, I'm always looking for good children's books, and I've found previous TOON Books offerings to be absolutely delightful. My kids love them, they're fun to read out loud, and they look great.
"Stinky" may be the best of the bunch.
Davis hasn't done a whole lot of comics yet, and she's by far the newest talent to work on a Raw Junior book, but she attacks "Stinky" with confidence and grace. It's the simple tale of a grumpy monster, Stinky Seymour, and the young boy who dares to build a treehouse in the forest. There's a little bit of "Shrek" in the set-up, with the swamp-loving monster wanting to distance himself from the humans who live in the nearby town, but it’s a superficial resemblance at best. For one, Stinky gets along well with the other forest creatures, who enjoy his company even if they have to wear clothes pins on their noses. And Stinky's misanthropy is targeted at those little kids who come in to the forest all clean (ewww) and eat their apples and lollipops (double ewww). It's a fun reversal of the norm for young readers, and my two kids thought Stinky Seymour was hilarious.
As Stinky's perfect, smelly, mucky little world is invaded by the precocious Nick, there's only one option for a monster who wants to keep his forest safe from human children: he has to drive the boy away, by any means necessary. An ugly, disgusting, bloated frog doesn't scare him away, nor does stealing his hammer, nor does a poorly-executed ghost haunting. Since it's a book for young readers, you can imagine that it has a happy ending, where both Stinky and Nick end up as friends, but Eleanor Davis's gorgeous artwork and whimsical storytelling make the journey toward the inevitable conclusion a whole lot of fun.
Eleanor Davis is a major cartooning talent, and "Stinky" is the kind of book that everyone in your family will enjoy, no matter their age.