Stephan Pastis triumphantly returns with yet another collection of his popular Pearls Before Swine comic strips. This is the second one curated especially for middle-school readers, who may remember Pastis from his Timmy Failure series. While this great assortment focuses on the inept Croc family—Larry, Patty, and Junior—and their never-ending attempts to eat peace-loving Zebra, it also features others from the Pearls Before Swine family, such as the naive Pig, the megalomaniac Rat, and the condescending Goat. The book also includes some rarely seen characters, such as the slacker Lions and the scavenger Hyenas.
As with most of Pastis’ work, this volume’s humor can be found in its puns, sarcasm, and slightly snarky sense of humor, making it naturally appealing for tweens. The cast of characters—lovable losers, all of them—provide plenty of witty banter, mocking, and mirroring the foibles and antics of humans through their distinct personalities. The bright, crisp colors and cute animals seem to contradict the tinge of melancholy that seeps into Pastis’ exploration of the fragile peace between the cartoon carnivores and herbivores, but his illustration style is also very pleasing. Other themes include travel, Halloween, friendship, food, work, school, and of course, bathroom humor.
Those who read Pearls in installments will enjoy entire story arcs contained within a few pages, as well as the build-up to larger jokes that you might miss if you were reading the series in the newspaper. Known for making adults laugh out loud, Pearls Before Swine’s trademark dry humor and grim undertones are not necessarily watered down for this juvenile collection, making it suitable for newcomers and die-hard fans of all ages.
The Croc Ate My Homework: A Pearls Before Swine Collection
by Stephan Pastis
AMP/Andrews McMeel, 2014