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Kit Feeny: On the Move


Kit Feeny: On the Move

Kit’s family is moving to the big city, and he’s excited but worried about losing his best friend, Arnold. Since the two are old hands at coming up with exciting schemes (buying a thousand bouncy balls, selling all their clothes for pizza, creating their own comics), they soon figure out that they should pack Arnold in the moving van! When this doesn’t quite go according to plan, Kit is left on his own to navigate a new school, try to find a replacement for Arnold, and deal with Devon the Bully Comedian.
Townsend’s first book in the Kit Feeny series is the boy version of Jennifer and Matthew Holm’s terrific girl graphic novel series Babymouse, which is a high compliment in my book. It is realistic—even though drawn with animal characters—and just the right combination of silliness and problems that kids can identify with. Kit is every boy, err, every bear-like creature. He is worried about starting a new school, annoyed by his twin sisters, and determined to run away from home and live as a lonely hobo when things don’t go well on his first day. His parents are just the right kind of understanding. They offer good advice, but not too much of it, and they allow Kit to make his own choices and his own decisions. This keeps the book kid-focused and makes it a stronger, less preachy read.
Furthering the comparisons with Babymouse is the book’s color scheme. Just as the Holms’ work uses a basic black/white/pink color scheme, Townsend chooses black/white/orange, a boy-friendly choice. His art has a loose, cartoonish quality that keeps it from being either too serious or too young looking. When he draws Kit’s comics, he loosens up even further to channel his inner child artist. This makes Kit’s comics believable as drawn by a child. The character designs are very unique. Kit and the other characters are bear-like creatures with round or rectangular faces and tiny round ears at the upper sides of their heads. They almost all have wide mouths, which Townsend uses to good effect when expressing emotions.
Elementary school–age readers will identify with Kit both in his experiences and in his child-centric worldview. The story is fast-paced, silly, and chaotic enough to keep readers hopping, making them eager to keep reading. Next time you have a girl checking out Babymouse, see if she has a brother in elementary school. This one’s for him, though she’ll probably want to steal it from him when he’s done with it!

Reviewed by Snow Wildsmith on July 9, 2012

Kit Feeny: On the Move
by Michael Townsend