Peanuts-Where-Beagles-Dare-coverSnoopy, aka the World War I Flying Ace, is enjoying his leave in the French countryside when he discovers a secret note in his food. The general has asked to see him, which could only mean one thing: a secret mission! A mysterious contact wants to rendezvous; he or she has information that could lead to the downfall of the Flying Ace’s arch nemesis: the Red Baron. Though the Flying Ace’s trusty Sopwith Camel airplane is under repair (Woodstock and his other bird friends are helping out), the Flying Ace travels through France, searching for his contact. He meets many old friends along the way, and when he finally makes contact and the Camel is fixed, he comes face-to-face with the Red Baron.

All of this takes place in Snoopy’s imagination, of course. The reader can clearly see from the illustrations and the Peanuts gang’s commentary that Snoopy is romping around the neighborhood, digging through Lucy’s vegetable patch, wobbling by on a skateboard, partying at Peppermint Patty’s, and generally having a grand old time playing pretend. Meanwhile, astute readers will pick up clues indicating that something unusual is happening at Charlie Brown’s house: Charlie feeds Snoopy his dinner early because he’s going to be “busy” later, Lucy walks by with a bunch of party balloons, and Snoopy sees several relatives that he hasn’t seen in ages. Once the gang sees that Snoopy is pretending to be the Flying Ace, they play along, hoping to distract him long enough so that they’re able to surprise him at the end of the day.

Because of the nature of the dual narratives, more literal readers might have a little trouble with this story. The cues indicating that something is taking place within Snoopy’s imagination are subtle. However, older or more advanced readers will appreciate the clever way that imagination and reality are blended. For example, some panels show the neighborhood as it actually is, with trim houses and yards, and then others show war-torn buildings laid out in exactly the same configuration, so we know that Snoopy is mentally superimposing the WWI scenery onto a real environment. It’s also done very well through the dialogue; Linus and Snoopy have an exchange where Linus is saying friendly, innocuous things to Snoopy, but Snoopy is interpreting the comments in such a way as to incorporate them into the Flying Ace game. Snoopy’s vocabulary is quite advanced, which is another factor that nudges the audience for this graphic novel a little older.

The artwork stays extremely true to Schultz’s original style. Characters are instantly recognizable, and other elements such as perspective, colors, and level of detail strongly evoke the original comic strips. Panel structure is the only thing that’s different; panel size varies to complement the action taking place in the scene, sometimes giving panoramic views, and sometimes featuring Snoopy’s walking feet in a long, thin strip. This is an improvement in many ways, not only because it complements the story, but because it also creates a more modern aesthetic and makes it more accessible for child readers.

Kids aged 8-11 who saw the recent movie, or who simply like imaginative characters with big ideas, will find lots to enjoy here. This is also a good suggestion for fans of the Big Nate comics, because of the large ensemble and gentle humor. Kids who like the intersection of reality and fantasy found in the Phoebe and Her Unicorn books should like it as well.

Peanuts: Where Beagles Dare
by Jason Cooper
Art by Vicki Scott, Paige Braddock, and Whitney Cogar
ISBN: 9781608867110
Boom!, 2015
Publisher Age Rating: 8+

  • Kristen Lawson

    Past Reviewer

    Kristen Lawson is the Youth Services Department Manager at the Roselle Public Library in Roselle, IL. She has worked with children and teens in public libraries since graduating with her MLS from UIUC in 2006. Now she is working on making more space for kids’ graphic novels, in addition to other duties that fall under “making the library awesome.” Though very picky about movies and music, she has a wide range of reading interests and is constantly on a mission to read all the things.

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