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Review: Drew and Jot: Dueling Doodles

This book has made its rounds through the Keller Kids. There are three school age kids ranging from grades 2 to 5 and they all enjoyed this title on different levels.

Drew and Jot: Dueling Doodles
By Art Baltazar
Kaboom!: December 2019
Grades 2 and up

5th grader Andrew starts a new school. While he is nervous, he has his trusted sketchbook to keep him company. It’s the sketchbook that opens a window to his new friendship with Foz: It turns out that both boys draw their own comics, so they decide to create a crossover of their characters and combine their stories. But when Andrew’s little sister starts drawing in his sketchbook, it turns the story upside down. Will the boys and Patsy be able to salvage the story?

Like I said, this book can be read on many different levels. As an adult, I love how Baltazar captures youth and innocence. There’s a tremendous innocence in his fifth grade characters that is hard to believe still exists. But I do believe it’s still there. There are also wonderful supportive adults who embrace the boys’ drawings and friendship, rather than looking down at it. For instance, when a page rips out, Andrew’s mom patiently helps tape it back in, making the story that has taken a life of its own right again.

My son had a very different take. He’s a reader but doesn’t fathom himself as an artist, so he looked at the story and commented on how the artwork changed. How you could tell when you were reading the children’s story. He wasn’t sure if he liked that. (I thought it was brilliant.) My little one, in second grade, didn’t really express her thoughts, but she kept looking for the book again, frustrated when I would put it back in my review pile, wanting to read it over and over again. I watched her read, mesmerized with the story and artwork.

The artwork was brilliant. There were two distinct styles. One style was Drew and Foz’s “outer story,” while the inner story, their own creation, had its own style that looked like it was colored in crayon. It was busy and wild like you might imagine a kid creating a story. The whole book has a feeling of energy, like it’s ready to explode off the page.

This title is for elementary aged children, but it will be enjoyed by all sorts of readers. It will also encourage creativity in kids, hopefully inspiring them to create their own stories.

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Esther Keller About Esther Keller

Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. Her collection is also the model for all middle school libraries in NYC. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library, and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.

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