Jim Benton is big news in my libraries. Kids are still devour his Franny K. Stein and My Dumb Diaries series, and every now and then, I’ll even catch a mom rocking an It’s Happy Bunny sweatshirt or tee. He’s consistently hilarious with a wink to the snarkiest of mindsets, making him aces in my book. So when I was invited to review his graphic novel, Clyde, about a bear who loves being bad, I bounced off the walls a bit.
My excitement was rewarded. Clyde is straight-up hilarious. Clyde is a bear who just wants to be a bad guy. He doesn’t have a nice word for anyone, and life in friendly Cubville isn’t cutting it for him. He wants to go somewhere bad: “bad as bologna… left out on the counter to spoil’, so he sets off for Grizzly City. He gets beaten up by a butterfly who, at it turns out, is trying to get away from the mean streets of Grizzly City, and encounters a grizzly who’s so intimidating, Clyde farts with every sentence the bear growls at him. Is Clyde deterred? No way! But a call from his brother, Tinkledirt, telling him his grandmother is in fish jail, sends Clyde back to make things right.
Is this a redemption tale? Heck no! It’s a tale that’s meant to enjoy and laugh at, because Jim Benton’s humor is fantastic: surreal, sarcastic, and carries just a bit of an uplifting message about helping out your friends and your family. The artwork is bright, with bold outlines, and keeps it simple; the writing is fast-paced and carries at least one belly laugh per page. Clyde is all of us in a bad mood; he just doesn’t apologize for it. The text is perfect for intermediate readers, with short sentences, and words that your emerging readers can easily pick up in the dialogue. (I just had to explain what a bikini was to my second grader, but other than that, he was good.)
I demanded my second grader put everything down to read this, and he loved it. Get this one for your graphic novel fans; they’ll demand more Clyde, too. Visit Jim Benton’s author website for more about his books, including his Catwad graphic novels (which, it looks like I’m ordering for the kiddo).