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Johnston is a horror novelist. Gilbert is an animator. You’d think that pairing them on their first graphic novel — a children’s story, of all things — would be a recipe for disaster. Happily, nothing could be further from the truth.
Rosemary’s Backpack is a delight. Rosemary is a socially awkward 14-year-old computer prodigy. Pablo, the backpack, is a lab-created artificial life form. The military wants Pablo, but Rosemary is intent on saving him. Another kids-versus-establishment story? Yes, and a good one!
The characters have motivation, depth, and heart. The fun and smooth art reflects Gilbert’s background in animation. In fact, this story would make a fine animated feature. And, despite two or three instances of PG language, it is suitable for all ages. How many graphic novels can make that claim?
Be warned, however, that the cover is not a grabber. The title is split on either side of a half-dozen monochrome head shots, underscored by text the size of the Surgeon General’s warning. Thinking it was a back-cover ad, I instinctively flipped the book over to see the cover. That’s it, folks, so don’t miss it.
— Jack Abramowitz
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| ||Antony Johnston||Drew Gilbert