Sunday, June 15, 2014
Book Review: SLEEP TIGHT, ANNA BANANA
FIRST SECOND BOOKS – @01FirstSecond
WRITER: Dominique Roques
TRANSLATION: Mark Siegel
ART: Alexis Dormal
LETTERS: Marion Vitus
ISBN: 978-1-62672-019-0; hardcover (June 17, 2014) 10.5” x 7.75”
24pp, Color, $15.99 US, $18.50 CAN
Ages: 3 to 7-years-old
First Second Books is bringing Anna Banana to America. This little star of European children’s books is the creation of Dominique Roques and Alexis Dormal, a mother-son author-illustrator team that creates children’s picture books. Their bio says that when Dominique discovered that one of her two sons, Alexis, had become a picture book illustrator, she began writing stories for him to illustrate.
Together they have published several picture books starring Anna Banana. Last year, I discovered that First Second Books was going to publish one of them, Ana Ana – Douce nuit, in the spring of 2014 as Sleep Tight, Anna Banana. The title attracted me because I have a niece named Anna, so last year, I asked First Second for a copy for review. They remembered, and I received a copy just recently.
Sleep Tight, Anna Banana introduces Anna Banana, a lively little girl who can be a fearsome tyrant to her stuffed animal toys. These anthropomorphic stuffed animal pals are Zigzag (a rabbit), Fuzzball (some kind of Muppet-like monster), Pingpong (a penguin), Foxface (a fox), Whaley (a whale), and Grizzler (a bear). One night, Anna is enjoying a good book, so she is not ready to settle down and go to sleep. However, Anna’s stuffed animal friends are tired and just want to go to sleep. Now, they have to turn the tables on Anna, but can they win?
I have been eagerly anticipating Sleep Tight, Anna Banana’s release, and having just read it, I am not disappointed. This is a children’s picture book. While the story is told by an unseen narrator, Anna’s dialogue is spoken in word balloons. In a way, Sleep Tight, Anna Banana blurs the line between the children’s picture book and the comic book or graphic novel.
This format allows the narrator to tell a lively story, but Anna’s dialogue is what really punctuates the action and conflict in the story. Mark Siegel’s translation of Dominique Roques’ exposition and dialogue seems to match Alexis Dormal’s illustrated and graphical storytelling. This allows readers to get the best of both the picture book and comic book formats.
First Second plans on publishing a second Anna Banana book in 2015, and this first book is an excellent way to introduce what is an inspired concept for a children’s book. Sleep Tight, Anna Banana is one of my favorite reads of the year, and my only complaint is that I wish it were longer. Adults looking for a good picture book for readers 3 to 7-years-old will want to choose Sleep Tight, Anna Banana.
Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux
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