Alice Otterloop is your typical suburban kindergartener. She lives in the neighborhood of Cul de Sac with her mom and dad and older brother Petey. Cul de Sac is surrounded by a wall to keep out the traffic noise of the highway that flows by. This collection of comic strips recounts the details of Alice’s life as she deals with school, friendships, family life, and how to understand it all.
While the premise is mundane, Thompson really gets the quirky ways that kids think, so each comic ends up somewhere far from where a grownup would go. For example, when Alice’s mother wants to give her a pixie haircut and Alice doesn’t know what that means, Petey describes it as “It’s when you hair is so short it looks like a wheel of cheese with mold on it.” Alice’s mother is not amused, but Alice declares, “I love cheese! Can we do the moldy pixie head cheese look?” Thompson’s anecdotes never end up where a grownup thinks they should, but always where they need to go.
There are a few running jokes that crop up in the book. One is about how small Alice’s dad’s car is (so small it got mistaken for a toy and left in the sandbox once), another about how picky and what a hypochondriac her brother Petey is (none of his foods can touch, ever), and how pompous the class guinea pig is (it is continually frustrated by the low quality of conversation to be had in a kindergarten classroom.).
The art is crude, with rough, almost shaky, line drawings, but Thompson manages very expressive faces within that limitation. He doesn’t waste time on backgrounds but captures expressions and body language perfectly. These comics succeed in blending dry wit with great physical humor.