Review of the Day: Babymouse - Heartbreaker
Babymouse: Heartbreaker by Jennifer L. Holm, illustrated by Matthew Holm. Random House. $5.99
The book I was initially going to review for you today has been put on the back burner for the time being. It's a little too lovely for me to slam-bang out a review at this time of night. I'll spend more time crafting my response to it in an organized 8-hours-of-sleep fashion. In the meantime, I found that though I wrote this review quite a while ago, I never posted it. Enjoy it, then, in all its delicious hot pink glory.
Here is a typical day in my library. I set out four or five copies of the newest “Babymouse” series around 10:00 a.m. on the graphic novel shelf. Around 11:00 a.m. a patron of the girl-like persuasion will ask if we have any copies of “Babymouse” in. With falsely swelled head I will lead the patron to the place I last put the series, only to find every single last stinking copy is gone gone goneski. I’m trying to give you some kind of an idea of just how popular this series has proved to be. Whether your patron is a newbie to the series and wants, “Babymouse: Queen of the World”, or has read every last single installment in the series up to “Babymouse: Rock Star”, I can assure you that if you purchase, “Babymouse: Heartbreaker”, you’re simply setting yourself up to loose your copy to a fanatic fan pronto. Are you a librarian desperately in need of higher use stats? Meet the solution to all your woes. In this particular book in the series we see our plucky heroine doing what she does best. Eating cupcakes (though not as many as she might have), thinking about boys in an off-hand fashion, and dreaming up impossible fabulous dreams.
It’s Babymouse’s faaaavorite holiday of all time. Can you guess what it is? Here’s a hint: It involves pink. That’s right. Valentine’s Day is nigh and Babymouse has a lot on her mind. For one thing, it seems that her elementary school is having a dance and trusty standby Wilson is going with someone else. Suddenly Babymouse needs a date, but nobody is coming to mind. Either everyone’s already taken or they’re not interested in going. Even the creature that lives in her locker is giving her grief on the subject. In the end, Babymouse decides to go to the ball all by herself. Fortunately for her, there’s somebody there who thinks she’s absolutely fabulous. Someone she may have overlooked (or vice-versa).
I think part of the reason I love the “Babymouse” books as much as I do is that they’ve converted me to pink. I used to think that pink was a girly color. In the 1980s I was all about the hot pink (preferably paired with electric blue or just black) and even had a Pogo Ball in that color. Then I got older and eschewed my earlier love of the shade. Now the team of Holm & Holm have come up with a way of making me love pink all over again. And unlike other children’s books of limited palettes (like the “Olivia” books, for one), at no point does Matthew Holm betray me and introduce another color like, oh say, electric blue. There’s also the fact that when it comes to the art, “Babymouse” books are misleadingly simple. They look easy enough. But as you can see by “Heartbreaker”, there’s a fabulous moment when Babymouse has a crises of confidence and the page is just of her curled up from a distance with the only light a pinkish hue crosshatched through her bedroom window. It’s pink noir at its finest.
Why You Should Buy This Book: In one of her dream sequences, Babymouse is dancing with Duckie on a dance floor. Duckie, at the same time, is saying (and I am not making this up), “Nobody puts Babymouse in the corner”. Come ON, people! How can you resist that? And did I mention the peculiar fact that in her fantasies Babymouse sometimes ends up as a guy? When she decides to go to the dance by herself she suddenly envisions a “Gone With the Wind”-type situation in which one character is Scarlett O’Hara and Babymouse is, oddly enough, Rhett. I’d say that raises the bar on original characterizations, wouldn’t you?
As with the other “Babymouse” books, there are the old standbys. Cupcakes. A snarky narrator who discusses various situations with our heroine. Dream sequences ah-plenty. And, of course, the locker creature who gets quite a lot of page time in this book. In the end it doesn’t matter if this is the first Babymouse book a kid reads or the last. It’ll definitely whet their whistle for future installments. Babymouse forever!
On shelves December 26, 2006.