Taro and the Carnival of Doom
written by Sango Morimoto
Taro is just a regular little boy sitting down for a snack when the Wise Magician appears to let him know his friend Hippity is in danger. The Wise Magician uses a magic pencil to turn Taro into an anthropomorphized pit bull terrier (now known as Terrie) so Terrie can enter the comic book world where Hippity and others live. That’s the world of Doodledom, created by Taro himself.
The villainous King Crossout and his sidekick Tattle-Tail (a cat) kidnap the rabbit Hippity, and it’s up to Terrie to save the day. King Crossout says that Terrie must go to Carnival Crossout in order to possibly save Hippity, so there’s little choice in the matter. On the way, Terrie runs into Blockade Boy, a big bully who won’t let him through unless Terrie can make him laugh. Some puns do the trick, and the two of them actually become friends after that. They travel on together to the carnival, where they go on a series of rides that look deceptively normal but are indeed very dangerous. Terrie takes his magic pen with him, because what he draws with it he can make real.
Throughout, he continues to run into various colorful characters, many of them also anthropomorphized animals of various sorts. As can be expected in a children’s story, everything eventually works out in the end and Terrie returns to being Taro with everyone safe and sound.
Taro and the Carnival of Doom is part of the Adventures of Taro series. It’s written as a sort of cross between a graphic novel and a children’s picture book. We’re told what’s going on in a panel, but there are additional speech bubbles for characters. Some of the pages are in color, though most are in black and white.
Taro is whimsical, irreverent, and sometimes gross. It’s an out-there children’s book, not a sweet, clean one. Some of it encourages interaction with its readers, which ought to get children more involved. For instance, it invites children to come up with their own puns, to draw in places, and to complete simple puzzles. Answers are given on the final page.
This graphic novel is recommended by the publisher for ages six and up.