SheHeWe is the latest installment of wordless comics for kids by Nordling and Bosch. These comics all follow the same format: one story, told from three points of view at the same time. In this installment, the top row is She, the middle row is He, the bottom row is We (the two kids together). The inner fly leaf provides an explanation/directions on how to read.
The book opens with the girl and boy approaching a playground and settling in to play. She is imagining a pink world with unicorns and fluffy clouds. He is imagining a purple-grey world with dragons and graveyards. We are setting up a picnic and running around.
Having the three panels running simultaneously lets the artist show what each kid is thinking or imaging and also shows what the scene would look like to a parent watching the kids. So when they are having a tea party and pouring pretend tea, in the top panel the tea is full of flowers and hearts, in the middle panel it is full of worms and poison, and the bottom panel shows nothing pouring at all.
Bosch’s illustrations flow nicely from one panel to the next. It’s clear that each row (the She row, the He row, and the We row) are all occurring simultaneously. Having the different colors helps the reader follow one particular story without the eye jumping around.
Initially, seeing the pink world as all unicorns and hearts feels very gendered. Why does the girl think about bunnies and the boy think about riding dragons? Except at the end “his” cap falls off and he has long luxurious hair. So maybe the top panel is he and the middle panel is she? Or maybe he just has long, luxurious hair. It’s a nice twist to shake up your assumptions, although I do wish it had happened a little earlier. I guess it isn’t as alliterative to call a book “YouMeUs.”
by Lee Nordling
Art by Meritxell Bosch
Graphic Universe, 2015
Publisher Age Rating: 4-8