Mina (Matthew Forsythe)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Mina by Matthew Forsythe, a hilariously off-kilter spiritual sequel to the author-illustrator’s previous title, Pokko and the Drum.

Mina lives in a world of books and stories, and is generally unbothered by the world around her, even when her father is bringing unusual treasures and loud guests into their home. Mina is pretty forgiving of her father’s eccentricities… that is, until the day he brings home a rather suspicious-looking “squirrel.” Mina does not feel entirely certain that this large, noticeably cat-shaped “squirrel” has the best of intentions, but her father brushes off her concerns readily. Still, Mina decides to keep her eye on her father’s pet “squirrel,” as she feels a little caution in this situation may be warranted (and potentially life-saving).

Hilariously unexpected. Fans of Pokko and the Drum will be well-pleased with this follow-up, which sees a return of Forsythe’s winning combo of warm, otherworldly artwork and wonderfully dry humor. Whichever way you think the story is going, it’s not, and Forsythe expertly subverts expectations with deadpan comedy and absurdist details that bring Mina’s tale perfectly full-circle. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ loved the visual gags, especially Mina’s father’s ridiculously oblivious preconceptions about his new pet. Overall, a delightfully unusual and absolutely hilarious tale, and we loved it. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Pokko And The Drum (Matthew Forsythe)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Pokko And The Drum by Matthew Forsythe, a cheeky tale of a blooming percussionist.

Pokko the frog receives a gift from her parents: a drum (it is a terrible mistake on their part). She proves to be quite the prodigy, though her father requests that she move her rehearsals outside. He also requests that she not make too much noise; they are a simple frog family living in a little mushroom, and don’t want to attract too much attention. Drumming quietly to keep herself company, Pokko is surprised when a banjo-playing raccoon joins her tune. Playing a bit louder, she attracts more company, in the form of of a trumpeter rabbit and a music-enthusiast wolf (though the wolf earns a stern warning from Pokko when he eats the rabbit: “No more eating band members or you’re out of the band”). Pokko’s talent attracts more and more musicians and fans, until she is leading a massive parade… right toward her quiet little mushroom home.

What a marvelously bizarre and uplifting tale. With the exception of one slightly dark joke – the wolf’s consumption of the rabbit is not graphic, but certainly jarring in an otherwise innocuous tale – Pokko’s story is one that expertly blends deadpan comedy with a sweet message about supporting talent and the power of music. The beautifully colorful and retro-inspired illustrations are equally appealing, and the well-designed characters and visual gags add to the absurdity. The length was perfect, and JJ absolutely adored the artwork. This is a strange one, to be sure, but it leaves readers with a smile and a warm heart – we loved it. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)