Expedition Backyard | Review
Writer: Rosemary Mosco
Artist: Binglin Hu
RH Graphic; $12.99
Mole and Vole are neighbors, best friends, and a two-member adventure club that spends each day exploring their rural, backyard world. Vole inevitably suggests the wildest, most dangerous of adventures, while Mole usually advocates for something more tame and do-able (and Mole usually wins). For example, when we first meet the pair in Rosemary Mosco and Binglin Hu’s Expedition Backyard, Vole suggests, among other things, “We could yell at an owl and scurry away as it tries to eat us!” But Mole gets the adventure reduced to looking for swamp milkweed flowers to make sketches of. (This will still involve some danger, like sneaking past a snoozing bobcat and a sleeping owl on the way to the swamp.)
The two go on their biggest, most dangerous, most unexpected adventure ever when they sneak into the humans’ house to watch nature shows one day, their usual rainy day activity. This time they notice something weird: The place is full of boxes. When the humans return home at an earlier than usual time, Mole and Vole hide in one of the boxes…and end up moving to the city along with the humans.
There they must begin new lives, starting with burrowing new homes and adjusting to a new life full of new dangers and new allies among all the new wildlife, like, for example, these really weird-looking birds called “pigeons.” As unwanted as this particular adventure might have been, the two friends quickly find themselves adjusting to their new circumstances, meeting strange creatures and befriending many of them, until the ranks of their club swell.
Many of the official adventures–five of which are numbered and chronicled–involve a two-page spread laying out the path the characters take, with various wildlife drawn and labeled for young readers. They often end with close-ups from Mole’s sketchbook, where we see the character’s impressions and their own versions of what has been experienced.
Though a fairly simple story of a devoted friendship, what Mosco and Hu really seem to be up to is highlighting the riches the outside world has to offer their young readers, whether they live out in the country as Mole and Vole once did, or in the heart of a city, as Mole and Vole end up doing. Wherever you are, there is a wide variety of neat wildlife, just waiting to be met, sketched and learned about…even if said wildlife likely won’t invite you into its burrow and into its adventure club, what with you being human and all.
Filed under: Reviews
About J. Caleb Mozzocco
J. Caleb Mozzocco is a way-too-busy freelance writer who has written about comics for online and print venues for a rather long time now. He currently contributes to Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog and ComicsAlliance, and maintains his own daily-ish blog at EveryDayIsLikeWednesday.blogspot.com. He lives in northeast Ohio, where he works as a circulation clerk at a public library by day.
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