Mr. Badger and Mrs. Fox #1: The Meeting
written by Brigitte Luciani
illustrated by Eve Tharlet
Bristle and Grub live with their father Mr. Badger and their baby sister Berry in a tidy little badger burrow. But one night Mrs. Fox and her daughter Ginger appear suddenly in their home. The Fox family lost its home when a hunter found their burrow. Mr. Badger and Mrs. Fox quickly hit it off and decide that their two families should become one. But Ginger, Bristle, and Grub don’t agree! Tidy, careful, slow badgers and hotheaded, rowdy, messy foxes should not be living together. So they concoct a plan to show their parents just how wrong this moving-in idea is, but their idea might just prove the opposite.
Luciani and Tharlet’s graphic novel, originally published in France in 2006 as Monsieur Blaireau et Madame Renarde 1: La recontre, is a fun beginning to a promising series for early readers. Though some of the language might require parental assistance, not too much of it will be over kids’ heads. They’ll like that Ginger, Bristle, and Grub are spunky, realistic stand-ins for human children. The animal step-siblings bicker and complain, but also come to appreciate each other. Ginger has a harder time with that, as she was previously an only child who was used to having her mother to herself. Bristle and Grub are already used to picking on each other, so they don’t have as much difficulty ignoring Ginger’s prickly moods.
Tharlet’s art is warm, fitting the gentle story. Her color palette is foresty greens and blues and browns, so Ginger’s orange-red and the badgers’ black, white, and grey stand out nicely. Simple square and rectangular panels are bordered by white and contain white text bubbles, so everything is easy to read. Graphic Universe, an imprint of Lerner, has published this in an oversized format with a sturdy library bound binding and an eye-catching cover. This is a very nice addition to the world of comics for kids. The plot is believable and has a nice message without preaching at readers, which also makes it a unique choice for parents looking for books on stepfamilies.