The story opens on Planet Ferretonia, where the wide-eyed and lovable Feefs (short for Fee-Foo) has, as usual, a question. To the exasperation of the council member teaching the younglings, Feefs is curious about the world beyond Dook Dook Island, but the conversation is derailed when Feefs’ gadget-obsessed brother Meems (Meemoo) shows up to whisk Feefs away.
Meems has a plan for exploring the forbidden worlds beyond—using forbidden technology—in search of his vanished mentor. After an exciting (and humorous) adventure, the two pass through a portal to a new world…
Meanwhile, on Earth, Liza, a red-haired tween, is dealing with a lot of things. She misses her absent parents, her deceased guinea pig Pushkin, and hasn’t figured out a way to tell anyone that she’s struggling in school. Her concerned adult brother, Sasha, who is caring for her while working as a chef at the local diner, insists on dropping her off at the local animal shelter where she’ll have to talk to her best friend Lexi, whether she wants to or not. The meeting with Lexi is awkward, but he’s sympathetic to Liza not wanting to talk and takes her to meet their newest rescues—a pair of ferrets!
Liza’s problems are put to the side for the moment, as she becomes thoroughly invested in helping Meems and Feefs return to their planet and the three learn some gentle lessons about friendship, kindness, making mistakes, and not eating everything in sight. The story ends on a cliffhanger, with Liza poised for an adventure with her new friends.
Cooper’s art is chunky and goofy; Meems favors goggles and toolbelts while Feefs prefers dressing up in whatever he can find, including “borrowed” clothes from Liza’s stuffed animals. Both are fluffy with blends of beige, brown, and white fur, but their personalities are clearly different. Meems, with a little more fluff around the face, is nevertheless clearly the serious one, with fangs poking out from his habitual frown. Feefs is goofy and open, with big, exaggerated cartoon eyes and a wide, happy grin as he goes through life making friends with everyone he sees.
All of the human characters appear white; Liza has a thick curve of reddish hair and a little cowlick, her brother Sasha’s blonde hair is pulled up in a short ponytail and he has a shadow of beard and blue-inked tattoo. Liza’s friend Lexi has short, wavy brown hair and thick dark eyebrows and wears casual jeans and loose t-shirts and Leslie, the eccentric older woman they visit in the woods has a messy scruff of gray hair and a pointed, reddened nose. The most attractive part of Cooper’s art is her ability to capture the ferrets as both intelligent, sentient personalities but also as goofy pets. Meems wraps himself up in a blanket to brood, Feefs delights in soft blankets, and the guard ferrets in the Citadel, like real ferrets, prefer a good nap. Carson’s own ferrets and models are shown in the back of the book.
This is a light and fluffy but fun offering. There are a few thoughtful moments included, from Liza introducing herself with her pronouns to Lexi’s sympathetic listening and Leslie’s robust advice on making mistakes, but it’s mostly a lighthearted adventure story with lots of humor, silly drawings, and cute ferrets. The only caution is that this is very definitely the first book in a series, with a major cliffhanger, and that’s always a risk when you don’t know if the series will be continued or not. Hand to fans of Investigators, Ninja Cat, and Cat & Cat Adventures.
Ferrets from Planet Ferretonia! Vol. 1
By Liza N. Cooper
Andrews McMeel, 2023
NFNT Age Recommendation: Easy Readers (5-9), Middle Grade (7-11)