Review: ‘Punky Brewster’
Since starting my own family, I’ve noticed that people in my age bracket are reviving the fads of their childhood. I presume that besides the money-making motivation, entrepreneurs realize that adults want to share the fun parts of their childhood with their kids. I certainly get a huge kick out of my three-year-old who routinely points out Hello Kitty in store windowss.
I was a child of the 80s and 90s, who probably had too much time in front of the TV, and Punky Brewster was definitely part of my viewing history. I loved watching the spunky kids’ weekly antics with their feel-good moments, so when I saw that Punky Brewster had been reworked into single-issue comics and was being compiled into a graphic novel, I knew it was something I wanted to read!
Punky Brewster v. 1
By Joelle Sellner and Lesley Vamos
Lion Forge Comics
Grades 4 and up
The intended audience of the Punky Brewster graphic novel will definitely not have any memory of the TV show, but it was refreshing to see that much of the original premise was kept intact (though I admit my memory is pretty hazy on the details). Punky is abandoned by her mother and left on the streets of Chicago to fend for herself. She’s doing pretty well until she gets in trouble with the law. She is put into foster care, where a kind social worker tracks down a long-lost-relative. Punky first needs to convince Henry that he has room in his life to care for her. But when he’s finally convinced, they need to convince the court, which proves even more difficult, especially with Punky’s inclination to run at the first sign of trouble.
This is a truly feel-good comic. It captures the cadence of a sitcom, with plenty of antics and adventure yet including the satisfying ending. The overall story arc ends with a promise for more story, which left me very happy—and I think it will leave most readers very happy.
The artwork reminded me of the brief animated series based on the Punky Brewster series, though it definitely has its own spin. Vamos uses a rich color palette which adds to the happy, sappy feel of the story.
Overall, this will be a great and fun read, with some serious themes that run through it. Parents, read it with your child. It’ll bring back some memories and give you some enjoyable bonding time.
This review is based on a complimentary copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © Lion Forge Comics.
About Esther Keller
Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. She also curates the Graphic Novel collection for the NYC DOE Citywide Digital Library. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.
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