Snapdragon by Kat Leyh is a gem of an unusual fantasy comic, both dark and uplifting for the young and the less young. While it is middle grade level, it tackles lots of modern and ultimately very human questions and deserves a good read.
Why did I pick up this book?
I was immediately attracted by the cover, not that I got it really, but I guess it left a mystery. The snapdragon title, left me wondering if this was a about mystical creatures or traps. And the antlers of the reindeer look like they were sprouting from the girls head. There was also this contrast of bright colours and darkness lurking at the back. In any case it promised something very interesting, and I wanted to find out what that was.
What is this about?
We follow snapdragon who lost her dog. She suspect the local witch Is getting ready to eat it. But everything isn’t as it seems, is there really a witch? Why does she collect roadkill? And did snapdragon just find someone as weird as her to become her friend?
How are the illustrations?
The illustrations are truly lovely. The very bright and cheery, and makes a lot of weird. It really sucks the story, saying things without needing the dialogue. Again they remind me a lot of this Canadian wave of cartoony young adult comics. I love the personality of the main character, and the fact that Jack is seamlessly transgender. The retro fear of the story when it talks about the older characters transpire well too. And the colours really give it a lot of life. They manage to make something that might have seemed grim otherwise, Keep it very cheery tone.
This comic is aimed at middle graders, there is nothing scary and it, though it’s asked some very difficult questions and put in light I huge amount Of questions around gender and open-mindedness, acceptance of the other, anger and negative feelings arising from difference. It also shows single-parent families, the struggle of living with small means, and so many other little details but the one that really stood out is this strong message of acceptance. It was beautifully made very effective, and the comic just seems to beat was its own heart. Even as an adult I really loved it.
The character of snapdragon is also fantastic. From the first double page you cannot do anything but rude for her. She has so much personality, she is so fearless, but also full of anger and yet full of empathy and understanding. The first interaction between her and Jack is truly gripping. After that you want to know everything, magic is really in the relationships.
You know what, I can’t think of any. And that is quite something. I really don’t have enough good words for this comic, and I know that I will give it to my children when they are of age. I am sure it will transport them in it’s world. I really look forward to the next instalment. And I will be looking out for more work from the artist.
Who do I recommend this book to?