Spotlight: Picture books

Our interactive picture books offer parents and children a dynamic and challenging alternative to the passivity of watching commercially driven television while supporting a range of child literacy development levels.

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Hippy Jonny

Tabella Publishing LLP (Age 12+) Rated nine out of ten

Ryan Dodd’s Hippy Jonny and the Banality of Life is the whirlwind tale of a free spirit and his struggle to find his place in life. Tabella continue their streak of publishing graphic novels that not only entertain but also provide a lot of food for thought.

After resigning from his nine-to-five job, Jonny strives to find an escape from bland everyday life. Helped along by friends and love interest Nelly B, he begins to piece things back together and find his true purpose.

On the surface you may dismiss Hippy Jonny as a typical ‘stoner comedy’, content with making obvious jokes about the hypocrisy of the establishment. However, once you peel back the layers you discover there are much more interesting things going on.

Ryan Dodd’s writing simultaneously provides comedy, entertainment and a social message. This tale doesn’t take itself too seriously but beyond its farcical exterior there are some big issues that affect us all.

The dialogue, on the whole, feels natural and really flows from panel to panel and from page to page. There are some wonderfully crafted comedy moments and brilliant reversals that really deliver the laughs.

Hippy Jonny isn’t without its faults, however. Despite tackling some important issues it does feel a little lightweight at times.

In addition, the story is broken up into volumes and chapters but these don’t run on into each other. This means when finishing a chapter you have to go back out to a menu in order to select the next chapter. It creates unnatural hard stops that can be quite jarring, especially when all you want is to have the story continue.

That minor hiccup aside, Hippy Jonny is a cleverly crafted and entertaining graphic novel. Ryan Dodd has written something really special.

Joshua Douglas-Walton

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