Fan, Terry , Fan, Eric , Fan, Devin

The Barnabus Project

(2) K-3 Barnabus is a mouse/elephant hybrid who has "lived in a secret lab...as long as he could remember." The location of the laboratory is quickly revealed on an impressive double-page spread showing first a "perfectly ordinary" city street--including a store called Perfect Pets--and then its underground, which makes visible the secret pet-manipulation operation. Barnabus, trapped in a glass jar alongside other pint-sized hybrid creatures, learns about the outside world from a cockroach named Pip. The trees, lakes, and "mountains that reached all the way to the sky, lit with their own stars" (a.k.a. high-rises) described by Pip spark Barnabus's sense of wonder. After the creatures are officially deemed "Failed Projects," off to be recycled into something more perfect, a glass-shattering "BWAAHHH!!" (courtesy of Barnabus's trunk) jump-starts their escape. The graphite and digitally colored illustrations convey a gentle, handmade quality through substantial cross-hatching and an emphasis on shading. A harrowing chase through the lab's pipework showcases the Fan brothers' strong sense of perspective, spatial continuity, and skillful expression of light. After Barnabus releases a massive, tentacled creature (also a Failed Project) from its watery tank, the entire cast of creatures rockets up a pipe and into Perfect Pets, creating a literal splash that leads to their freedom and reinforces Barnabus's optimistic mantra that "nothing is impossible."


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