If you have any animal lovers at your library, you’ll want to add this adorable and well written graphic novel to your middle school collection. Epic! have created yet another great comic. I have yet to find a children’s comic from this publisher that I haven’t enjoyed.
This story starts off with Maddie, who’s just looking to make some friends to play with at the local park. The only problem is that these kids are more interested in gossiping, and hanging out with their circle of friends that they’ve already made. It’s made clear that there’s no room for anyone else to join. This leaves Maddie to find something else to do. Luckily, she quickly comes across a lost dog, who accepts her for who she is, and instantly becomes a best friend. The only problem is she can’t keep him. Her apartment won’t allow pets!
Fortunately, Maddie’s mom has the wonderful idea to take the dog to the Animal Rescue Friends farm where he can live safely and happily amongst other animals. Maddie loves the animal rescue farm so much that she decides to help out with all sorts of other lovable creatures. Houdini the bunny, Chestnut the horse, and Kiki the ferret keep all the staff very busy and very happy. Through helping the animals, Maddie makes friends with other kids her age. There are several stories which are woven together, all with the overarching themes of belonging, friendship, and finding your niche.
This is a wonderful and well done graphic novel. The story holds your attention and has developed relatable characters in a short span of time. From the first few pages, readers will wish they could join Maddie at the Animal Rescue Friends farm. The artwork is beautifully done. The characters and furry friends are adorable. Settings are full of small details, some even evoking an unavoidable chuckle. Bright colors fill each page and chapter divider pages each feature a delightful different animal. At the back of the book is a fun section that explains different kinds of comics, what panels and parts of comic books are called, how they’re organized, information about real people that create comics, from inkers, to pencillers, to writers and a section that gives inspiring ideas for kids to start creating their own comics.
Overall, this graphic novel would be a fantastic addition to any library collection that serves middle school aged children. It is an interesting, fun, and cute story with superb drawings. The lessons of friendship, fitting in, problem solving, and altruism are easy to understand. This book could easily be used to teach children about making friends, and not giving up if others don’t immediately accept them. There are always furrier options, until less furry friends come along.
Animal Rescue Friends
By Meika Hashimoto
Art by Gina Loveless
Andrews McNeel, 2021
Publisher Age Rating: 8-12
NFNT Age Recommendation: Middle Grade (7-11), Tween (10-13)