There’s a reason S.T.A.R. is written on Flamingo’s butt and he is finally ready to fulfill his destiny! The Inflatables: Bad Air Day is the first book in a new series from Beth Garrod and Jess Hitchman, with art by Chris Danger. This installment introduces us to Flamingo and his crew of inflata-buddies, a friendly bunch of inflatable pool toys who spend their days at the Have a Great Spray! Water Park. 

Alongside Flamingo is the rest of the gang: Cactus, a prickly raft; Donut, a goofball float ring; Watermelon, an always-on-the-go beach ball; and Lynn, the elder raft of the group. They spend their days floating around the lost and found pool, soaking up the sunshine. But today isn’t a normal day at the water park. The inflatables discover park owner Walter S. Lide’s secret plans for the park, including one for a giant wave pool opening that very day. They wonder about all the excitement and new snacks this grand opening will bring, but Flamingo has his eyes on a bigger prize: fame, fortune, and the chance to steal the spotlight and finally become somebody!

The inflatables’ journey to stardom isn’t easy. There’s Paws and Claws, the park’s resident cats, in their way, along with Ice Cream Jean and her truck of many scoops. Luckily the group are masters at maneuvering around the park and facing any obstacles that come their way, including Flamingo’s archnemeses, a pack of beautiful white swans. Will they make it to the grand opening in time for Flamingo to steal the spotlight? 

From beginning to end, The Inflatables: Bad Air Day is a fun romp through a busy water park with a cast of characters children will love. The book is full of puns, both in dialogue and in the background art. There are lots of visual gags and readers will want to pore over every page to find all the hidden jokes. The characters are drawn in a fun, vibrant manner with very expressive faces. The visual gags work very well alongside the verbal ones. 

Readers of all ages will find themselves laughing at the inflatables’ quest to crash the wave pool opening. Reluctant readers and beginning chapter book readers will be drawn in by the goofy antics of the characters and the world around them. The chapters are short and manageable, but long enough that they can stand alone for those just starting chapter books. The content is silly and lighthearted. In fact, I’d say that the book is a great poolside or beach read for young readers. 

Fans of the Squidding Around or Narwhal and Jelly series will find this newest graphic novel series a blast and another one to add to their reading list. One might even say they’ll find themselves pumped for more, just like the characters in The Inflatables. 

The Inflatables, vol 1: Bad Air Day
By Beth Garrod, Jess Hitchman
Art by Chris Danger
Scholastic, 2022
ISBN: 9781338748970

Publisher Age Rating: 7-10

NFNT Age Recommendation: Easy Readers (5-9)

  • Meredith

    | she/her Library Coordinator


    Meredith is a library coordinator with the Free Library of Philadelphia. Previously, she worked as a children's librarian at a Free Library branch for seven years, where she prided herself on the graphic novel collection. She has volunteered with the ALA Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table in various positions, including as co-chair of the Convention Planning Committee, and previously served as a juror for the EBSCO SEE-IT Award for youth graphic novels. In her free time, she likes spending time with her two cats and writer husband, all things theme park related, and of course, sharing her thoughts on what she's reading, primarily via Goodreads. You can find her on Twitter at @meredithmc.

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