“A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse,” by Frank Viva; TOON Books; $12.95, 32 pages, ages 4-6.
Follow the seafaring adventure of a boy and his mouse in this second comic book by five-time New Yorker cover illustrator Frank Viva. Aboard their sturdy ship, the explorers brave bumpy waves and freezing temperatures en route to new friends and strange sights that await their arrival in the Antarctic. Mouse’s plaintive refrain of “Can we go home now?” meets the boy’s response of “Not yet, Mouse” eight times. This exchange might recall similar ones often played out on long car rides between a parent and an impatient child. This introduction to comic illustration and storytelling is filled with bold blocks of primary colors, punctuated with paler tones and lots of black. The minimalist art looks like cut paper, when in fact all the illustrations were created with Adobe Illustrator on smooth vellum paper. The inspiration for the story comes from Viva’s own adventure, when he hitched a ride to the bottom of the world on a Russian research vessel. Expect young readers to request this read aloud often.