Peanuts: Scotland Bound, Charlie Brown

In Peanuts: Scotland Bound, Charlie Brown, Charlie Brown is back and travels across the pond to Scotland for an unforgettable and humorous adventure to the green pastures of Edinburgh, Scotland. The graphic novel is based on an unproduced feature-length special of Charles Schulz.

This  is an enjoyable adventure. The Peanuts characters are portrayed just the way we remember them. It opens with Lucy giving one her ‘therapy sessions” in her iconic booth. She is surprised to see Charlie Brown whistling, since this is out of character to his usually melancholic nature. He is happy because he has received a letter from his pen-pal, Morag. She wishes for Charlie Brown to visit Scotland and attend their International Music Festival. The gang decides to raise money for a trip to Scotland by hosting a carnival. The carnival is a success and the gang embarks on their Scottish adventure. 

On the plane trip, Charlie Brown is saddened to find that Morag has not one, but thirty pen-pals! However, a host family takes them in. They are taken to a traditional Edinburgh house by a young girl named Nell. Nell takes them on adventures through the city. All the usual tropes and sights and sounds of Scotland are mentioned. The gang visits many historical sites such as olde town theater and St. Andrews, and the site of the battle of Culloden.

Illustrator Robert Pope does an excellent job illustrating humor and movement. In one scene, we see Charlie Brown question out loud whether he should learn how to play the bagpipes. We see Linus throw his hands up in the air and express his dismay. This is typical of Linus’ dramatic nature—‘being the voice of reason’. The colors are vibrant and reflect the liveliness of the characters and their long journey. Snoopy, the lovable beagle, is decked out in Scottish gear such as a traditional Tam o’shanter cap and even brings along golf clubs. 

On Nell’s family farm they even see sheep and ‘Coos’ (how the Scottish pronounce cows). The ‘Coos’ are big brown shaggy cows, with wagging tongues. They are adorable and add humor to this adorable adventure. In one comical scene, we witness the Peanuts riding in a boat and freak out after thinking they see the traditional Scottish mythological creature Nessie. They all are capsized out of the boat and we see the many dramatic expressions of the characters. It is even funnier when they discover a large ‘coo’ hiding in the bushes. 

Author Jason Cooper does a good job incorporating the humor and personality of the characters that we love. He stays loyal to Charle Schulz’s characters and that’s important for Peanuts fans of all ages. 

This is a fun read that will leave Peanuts fans wanting more. We see the Peanuts gang in a new environment. The loving nature of Peanuts is enduring, and this comic will appeal to new generations of fans.

Peanuts: Scotland Bound, Charlie Brown
By Charles Schultz, Jason Cooper
Art by  Robert Pope
BOOM! KaBOOM!, 2021
ISBN: 9781684156818

NFNT Age Recommendation: Middle Grade (7-11)


ResistanceThe origin story of this timely graphic novel preceded our current pandemic situation as it was written as a radio drama for the BBC in 2017. In Resistance, the disease, Erysipelas (nicknamed “The Sips”), is a bacterium rather than a virus like COVID-19, but there are noticeable similarities between the two situations. Eerily, both diseases have a parallel incubation period, Australia is relatively safe because of its strict government and geographic location, and there are strong likenesses in the reactions and inaction of both the fictional and the authentic pharmaceutical companies and government leaders. Indeed, the most frightening aspect of Val McDermid’s story is the interference of politics and commerce with scientific exploration and development in trying to contain the spread of this fast paced and deadly infection.

Told through the lens of an investigative reporter, Zoe Beck, who had been sidelined to cover inconsequential events rather than hard news stories, the tale begins benignly at a food truck at a Solstice music festival in Scotland. At first, it is thought to be cases of food poisoning arising from the food truck’s meat products, but soon the infected people start to develop skin lesions and the illness becomes highly contagious and lethal. The pace of the story accelerates as the contagion begins to spread and the reporter—and reader—are faced with a frustrating lack of action. Scientists ponder while a plethora of worldwide deaths mounts and overwhelms the structures and procedures in place. Besides the talking media heads and scientific assessments, the reader is introduced to members of the reporter’s family, her colleagues, and contacts such as infectious disease expert Dr. Aasmah Siddiqui, as well as her friends, including the proprietors of the food truck initially blamed for the onset of the contagion. In fact, much of the horrifying plot revolves around blame, and the lack of admitting accountability. Award-winning mystery writer McDermid is in her element in creating a fictitious narrative that is all too plausible, in which strong characters are faced with horrific choices.

The murky black and white illustrations by Katherine Briggs are exceedingly compatible with this bleak story. The layout of many of the pages strongly advance the action while, at the same time, they alleviate the tedium of reading large amounts of text, some of which is fairly technical. She effectively utilizes frames, oddly shaped panels, overlays, and literary, symbolic, and iconic references that range from the medieval to New Age tarot cards. These embellishments add to the feeling of timelessness and, at the same time, the historical continuum and backdrop of such disasters. Her characters are quirky and, in some instances, represented as caricatures rather than full blown individuals, aiding this reader in keeping track of the main players while appreciating the contribution of other personalities who have a minor but essential role in the story.

There is much to contemplate and discuss in this graphic novel. It has a thread of hope for a society that tends to ignore any signposts that may lead to destruction while having a noir-like quality to both the writing and the artwork. Although set in Scotland, it has universal appeal and relevance. Recommended for public library collections and for high school students and educators.

By Val McDermid
Art by Kathryn Briggs
Grove Atlantic, 2021
ISBN: 9780802158727
Publisher Age Rating: Adult

NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18)
Creator Representation: Scottish
Character Representation: Scottish