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Space Dumplins: A Graphic Novel

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Highly acclaimed graphic novelist Craig Thompson's debut book for young readers about a plucky heroine on a mission to save her dad. For Violet Marlocke, family is the most important thing in the whole galaxy. So when her father goes missing while on a hazardous job, she can't just sit around and do nothing. To get him back, Violet throws caution to the stars and sets out w Highly acclaimed graphic novelist Craig Thompson's debut book for young readers about a plucky heroine on a mission to save her dad. For Violet Marlocke, family is the most important thing in the whole galaxy. So when her father goes missing while on a hazardous job, she can't just sit around and do nothing. To get him back, Violet throws caution to the stars and sets out with a group of misfit friends on a quest to find him. But space is vast and dangerous, and she soon discovers that her dad is in big, BIG trouble. With her father's life on the line, nothing is going to stop Violet from trying to rescue him and keep her family together.Visionary graphic novel creator Craig Thompson brings all of his wit, warmth, and humor to create a brilliantly drawn story for all ages. Set in a distant yet familiar future, Space Dumplins weaves themes of family, friendship, and loyalty into a grand space adventure filled with quirky aliens, awesome spaceships, and sharp commentary on our environmentally challenged world.


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Highly acclaimed graphic novelist Craig Thompson's debut book for young readers about a plucky heroine on a mission to save her dad. For Violet Marlocke, family is the most important thing in the whole galaxy. So when her father goes missing while on a hazardous job, she can't just sit around and do nothing. To get him back, Violet throws caution to the stars and sets out w Highly acclaimed graphic novelist Craig Thompson's debut book for young readers about a plucky heroine on a mission to save her dad. For Violet Marlocke, family is the most important thing in the whole galaxy. So when her father goes missing while on a hazardous job, she can't just sit around and do nothing. To get him back, Violet throws caution to the stars and sets out with a group of misfit friends on a quest to find him. But space is vast and dangerous, and she soon discovers that her dad is in big, BIG trouble. With her father's life on the line, nothing is going to stop Violet from trying to rescue him and keep her family together.Visionary graphic novel creator Craig Thompson brings all of his wit, warmth, and humor to create a brilliantly drawn story for all ages. Set in a distant yet familiar future, Space Dumplins weaves themes of family, friendship, and loyalty into a grand space adventure filled with quirky aliens, awesome spaceships, and sharp commentary on our environmentally challenged world.

30 review for Space Dumplins: A Graphic Novel

  1. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    Excellent book, as you would expect from Craig Thompson. I'm curious as to why the ratings on this one are so low, given that I really enjoyed this book, and Craig has written some of the very best graphic novels that I've ever read. (Blankets and Habibi) My guess is that this book is a big departure from the style of his other two books. They were both intensely emotional character centered stories. While this is obviously a fun Sci-Fi story targeted at a younger audience. This sort of thing happe Excellent book, as you would expect from Craig Thompson. I'm curious as to why the ratings on this one are so low, given that I really enjoyed this book, and Craig has written some of the very best graphic novels that I've ever read. (Blankets and Habibi) My guess is that this book is a big departure from the style of his other two books. They were both intensely emotional character centered stories. While this is obviously a fun Sci-Fi story targeted at a younger audience. This sort of thing happens to an author a lot when they try to write something new. People get pissed that you aren't writing more of the same thing that they've come to love. Personally? I really liked it. And so did Oot. To me that says this book was a lovely success.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sally906

    SPACE DUMPLINS is a children’s graphic story marketed as a “…grand space adventure filled with quirky aliens, awesome space-ships, and sharp commentary on our environmentally challenged world…” it certainly filled its brief. However the biggest problem I had was with the word ‘dumplins’ in the title. All I could focus on was that word, and how I strongly believed it was spelt wrong (even my spell check thinks it’s wrong) – it should have been dumplings. Rightly or wrongly that word jarred on my SPACE DUMPLINS is a children’s graphic story marketed as a “…grand space adventure filled with quirky aliens, awesome space-ships, and sharp commentary on our environmentally challenged world…” it certainly filled its brief. However the biggest problem I had was with the word ‘dumplins’ in the title. All I could focus on was that word, and how I strongly believed it was spelt wrong (even my spell check thinks it’s wrong) – it should have been dumplings. Rightly or wrongly that word jarred on my senses so may have made me more critical than I would normally. This could also have something to do with the fact that I am not in the target age group and deliberately misspelling words for effect seem to be the trend nowadays which grumps like me really hate but doesn’t bother the sweet young things. The artwork of the graphics was beautiful, Craig Thompson’s outer space is not empty there is a lot going on so once you’ve read the words there is a whole lot of looking to do. Sometimes the graphics were a little too busy for me as there was so much squeezed into a scene. The story itself is simple with Violet going off to rescue her father who collects space whale poop that the huge corporation that rules space can convert to fuel. There are enough gross things in the story to keep the average kid very happy – all that space poo for a start! But, within that simplicity of the plot there are a whole lot of deeper issues going on – racism, haves and have-nots, religion, the environment, consumerism and of course saving the whales. For such a basic story there is almost too many issues going on which is why I can see this will be popular with teachers, but maybe not so popular with kids because they will just want to read it and enjoy it – not moralise over it. With thanks to Allen & Unwin and the author for this copy to read and review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ramsey Hootman

    I picked up the advance copy of this at ALA. My 5 year old loves graphic novels like the Amulet series so I thought we'd give this one a try. Overall, I am not super impressed. The Good: My son liked it, mostly for the illustrations. Most of the text went completely over his head and I don't think he got anything other than that there was a dad and a baby whale in trouble that needed rescuing. He spent a lot of time in his room with this book, poring over the very detailed and whimsical illustra I picked up the advance copy of this at ALA. My 5 year old loves graphic novels like the Amulet series so I thought we'd give this one a try. Overall, I am not super impressed. The Good: My son liked it, mostly for the illustrations. Most of the text went completely over his head and I don't think he got anything other than that there was a dad and a baby whale in trouble that needed rescuing. He spent a lot of time in his room with this book, poring over the very detailed and whimsical illustrations. I enjoyed the little mutant chicken character. He was unique and interesting in his capacity as a sort of dream-prophet. The Less-Good: Two really glaring instances of sexism made me wish I'd read ahead so I could sort of "edit it out" for my kid. The first one comes when the protagonist, Violet, sees a male friend at a dump. They are busting stuff apart with hammers and she is doing it weakly. He tells her to stop hitting "like a girl," so she doubles down and really goes at it - presumably, "like a boy." The second instance is when she tells her two companions, both males, that she is so glad she left all her female friends behind because they were so uptight and how much better she likes being with the guys. I realize the intent here was to point out how snotty the station kids are, but it really came off as, "Wow, girls are so dumb, I'm so glad I'm one of the guys." In neither case are these assumptions criticized or questioned. Also, aside from Violet and her mom, literally every single other speaking character in this book is male. So this fictional universe is populated by 95% males. Sorry, it's 2015. This is not okay. I honestly did not grok the overall "message" of the book, even though I felt like the ending tried to hit the reader over the head with the point. Was it about recycling, maybe? I dunno. Something environmental. But I couldn't figure out if space whale poop was supposed to be analogous to something in our own world or what. Finally, I'm really not sure who the audience is here. I felt like maybe it was supposed to be for all ages, but it sorta missed the mark. For me the story was predictable and juvenile, but there were a ton of literary (and Star Wars) references, which didn't seem to accomplish anything other than perhaps making me feel clever for getting them. Much of the dialogue was too complex for my five year old, so he couldn't read the book himself and often had no idea what anyone was saying. I'm not sure a pre-teen would get much out of the in-jokes, either. And I'm not sure teens would be interested in reading about small children.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dov Zeller

    I didn't love this book. The art is pretty, um. (inter)stellar. But there is so much going on and it's all very narratively rushed and allegorically heavy, and so many of the relationships are mired in the symbolic. In the end the characters don't have much personality and the story itself, while trying so hard to be of contemporary conciliatory importance, is pretty predictable. It's like someone is pushing a plate under our (collective readers) nose with requisite "peas and carrots", and feeli I didn't love this book. The art is pretty, um. (inter)stellar. But there is so much going on and it's all very narratively rushed and allegorically heavy, and so many of the relationships are mired in the symbolic. In the end the characters don't have much personality and the story itself, while trying so hard to be of contemporary conciliatory importance, is pretty predictable. It's like someone is pushing a plate under our (collective readers) nose with requisite "peas and carrots", and feeling good about themselves for doing it because they're helping us eat our vegetables. But the vegetables aren't fresh or free-range and they're freezer burned and have lost quite a few of their nutrients. What is Thompson's overall message in this epic book that takes its hat off pretty bizarrely to Moby Dick (see chapter 101 "they had dumplings too; small but substantial..." Oh, and the whales.)? Is it striving, perhaps, for some kind of vague "feminist" or "humanist" or "chickenist" message? I'm not sure, but maybe I will have some epiphanies as I write this review? The book opens in a little spaceship called a "tug." A giant, ridiculously ripped, bearded, tattooed and a-shirt wearing blue-collar white guy is teaching his Disney-pretty, smart, talented, feisty daughter Violet how to fly the space tug. And she is our protagonist. "Space Dumplins" does have a hero who is a girl. Yay! But over-all there isn't too much feminist stuff happening, not too much out of the ordinary in terms of representation. Violet is main-stream-comic-book attractive. She's the heroine not because she is a girl, but despite that fact. (Because she can 'keep up' with the boys.) She has two sidekicks. One's a chicken and the other is, well, a chicken? The definitely-a-chicken chicken is one of the more compelling characters because of the humor (an adorabe, brooding neurotic chicken) but I can't quite make sense of the message there. He's an angsty writer who is terrified of taking risks and ends up being dragged along on an adventure that scares him a lot. Okay. Is this a kind of 'How to make friends and influence people' for chickens? "Risk your life and be brave while also being anxious enough to provide comic relief?" Overall the book seems to be trying to forge a kind of narrative peace-treaty between folks in a class system that manufactures deep divisions. The divisions in the book of course mirror those in contemporary not-outer-space western human habitats, but without much complexity and without offering true resolution. The story kind of putters to the finish line not very convincingly tying up all loose ends. Tensions are resolved in ways that aren't believable within the world of the story. The final message of "Space Dumplins?" Is it: "If you work hard enough and risk your life in order to try to make ends meet (while other people live in luxury and barely have to lift a finger), you can find a way to scrape by even if you are (and continue to be) suffering from poverty in a daily way and economically victimized by the system you are in." Or is it: "Giant working-class-Disney-greek-god-muscular male lumberjacks and androgynous-trope-ically-villainous-wealthier-male-manufacturers can all get along if the right kind of catastrophe brings them together because really aren't we all human? [except for the chickens etc]. [But they are anthropomorphized humanistic chickens]. Don't we all, in the end, ultimately care about each others experiences and quality of life? Um, no. (We just elected Trump, remember? The Batman villain who vows to make America Gotham City again.) Now that I've inarticulately said some things about the book, I want to mention something that I find a bit disturbing. Well, one of the GR reviewers expressed frustration with the sexism in Thompson's representation of girls and his failure to represent racially diverse human characters. And her point makes a lot of sense. But several people commented (or a few people commented several times) in a flurry of defensiveness, saying that it's good the sexism is in there, because that helps people get ready for 'the real world.' Huh? Nope! That's not how it works. At all. Certainly not when the stuff is happening without being addressed or called into question within the scope of the narrative. And anyway, that's like saying we should all be kicked as much as possible starting as young as possible to get us used to the fact that life is hard. And those who stand to have the hardest time in the world because of institutionalized racism, sexism, etc, should get kicked even more as kids to prepare them. If you think that's a good way to "prepare" kids for "life", EEK! Problematic messages in books about class and race and gender seep into the narrative consciousness of the kids who read them. And kids who rarely or never see themselves or their social scenarios represented in books are also very much affected and harmed by that absence of representation. So yeah, it's really important for kid's book authors to be considerate and thoughtful about this kind of stuff and not just reiterate harmful messages. (It's not easy to do. To truly step out of pervasive and harmful narratives, so thank you Thompson for a book with a cool protagonist.) Okay, not sure if I've made any bit of sense, but those are my thoughts for the moment.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Churchill

    3.5 stars maybe. I really did enjoy this. The artwork is brilliant, Craig Thompson's outerspace is just beautiful and full of detail. The plot surrounds a young girl whose dad goes missing, and mum works at a posh space station, all during a Whale diorrhea incident that's threatening lives on the satellites... it actually makes sense when you read it. It covers a lot of great issues, especially for the target audience which is admittedly a lot younger than I am. Class, bullying (briefly), consume 3.5 stars maybe. I really did enjoy this. The artwork is brilliant, Craig Thompson's outerspace is just beautiful and full of detail. The plot surrounds a young girl whose dad goes missing, and mum works at a posh space station, all during a Whale diorrhea incident that's threatening lives on the satellites... it actually makes sense when you read it. It covers a lot of great issues, especially for the target audience which is admittedly a lot younger than I am. Class, bullying (briefly), consumerism, pollution, renewable energy... then the usual family relationships, friendships, fitting in and belonging. The end was a bit too cliché for my liking, but overall a fun and definitely visually appealing adventure. I did have a couple of problems with it though; a couple of flippant sexist remarks that made me double check that it is actually a recent release, and the inclusion of whale diorrhea as a huge plot point - I'm fairly fed up with poo being a necessity for some when writing for a younger audience. It did work for this, admittedly, but bodily functions as amusement for kids bugs me, like we're intentionally dumbing down for an audience that we're actually grossly underestimating. So, I know I sound mixed there, but I did enjoy it more than I had problems with it. Not Thompson's best work plot-wise, but beautiful and fun nonetheless.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dave Schaafsma

    I really admire that Craig Thompson is having fun with this ambitious tome of a children's graphic novel, sci fi with weird and sometimes cuddly characters. Thompson, who is an amazing artist with a powerful track record, including the moving and romantic memoir-fiction Blankets and the ambitious epic Habibi, became known for Goodbye, Chunk Rice, which features little cartoony characters. These three books (oh, and the "travel" story, Carnet de Voyage, also!) reveal Thompson's serious, sadder, m I really admire that Craig Thompson is having fun with this ambitious tome of a children's graphic novel, sci fi with weird and sometimes cuddly characters. Thompson, who is an amazing artist with a powerful track record, including the moving and romantic memoir-fiction Blankets and the ambitious epic Habibi, became known for Goodbye, Chunk Rice, which features little cartoony characters. These three books (oh, and the "travel" story, Carnet de Voyage, also!) reveal Thompson's serious, sadder, more contemplative side, and are some of the best comics art in history, without question. This book, for kids and done by Scholastic, which means it is going to be in the hands of almost every household in the US. . . good for you, Craig!) is for kids, and my 9 year old son likes it a lot. "It's good," he says, and he is the only critic Thompson cares about for this one. I think he is sort of letting loose and having fun here and reaching an audience that reminds me of the cartoony Chunky Rice little guys in places. And also exhibits the environmental concerns of Habibi. The art here is terrific, again, with a whole different purpose, so Thompson shows an expanding range of invention. The space story doesn't seem particularly fresh or insightful to me, and some of the corniness seems just consistent with kiddie sci fi, but as my son would say, "It's good," he read it all in a couple days.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Raina

    Professional Review: Craig Thompson is known in his field for sprawling and complex graphic novels. Here, he leaves the adult content of Blankets and Habibi, and goes back to the narrative territory of his earliest published work, Goodbye, Chunky Rice. Violet is the child of working class parents, struggling to survive in a space-based society. They live in a mobile-home park – in space. Her dad works in logging – of space whale poop. Her mom works in a factory – on an asteroid. One day, a gal Professional Review: Craig Thompson is known in his field for sprawling and complex graphic novels. Here, he leaves the adult content of Blankets and Habibi, and goes back to the narrative territory of his earliest published work, Goodbye, Chunky Rice. Violet is the child of working class parents, struggling to survive in a space-based society. They live in a mobile-home park – in space. Her dad works in logging – of space whale poop. Her mom works in a factory – on an asteroid. One day, a galaxy-level crisis erupts – whale diarrhea is flooding the locations in space where sentient beings live and work. Then, Violet’s dad goes missing. Thompson’s illustrations are famously detailed – he draws out every item in a trash heap, every thrill-seeker in a water park – and this dense style feels almost like a Where’s Waldo page in some panels. Parts of this story are familiar – the outer space setting, the plucky female protagonist, the alien sidekicks, the stereotypically attractive adult human characters, the epic quest... And when compared with similar stories – Ben Hatke’s Zita the Spacegirl is a prime example – this venture into children’s graphic novels does not necessarily break new ground or bring the genre to new heights. However, expectations are inflated for a giant like Thompson, and this is excellent addition to the ranks of high quality graphic novels for kids. Best suited to elementary, middle school, and public libraries. My own private thoughts (internet-version): As I hint at in the review above, I couldn't help being struck by the similarities between this and Zita. The covers are eerily alike. The general setting is the same. The plucky young protagonist and her band of nonhumans ring familiar. And it feels odd that such a monster in the GN universe would create something SOOO similar to something already out there. Granted, it's not like THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE, but it feels too much like a copycat situation, regardless of the actual provenance of the story. Which is all beneath my expectations for the dude who showed me that I could be a professional GN appreciator as a grown-up. And when I do accept that this is just Thompson's take on a genre, it still falls a little short. It feels like a story written from an adult gaze. The young characters are a bit caricatured, like the author is winking at us about how cute they are. There are political undertones. And we're a bit too concerned with how the adults are feeling through it all. I also want to reemphasize the heteronormativity, all-white cast, and stereotypically-attractive bodies of the human characters. This is not only counter to the political messaging of the book, but - on the race side - an unrealistic view of what skin tones would be like in a future in space. All of that stuff is under the surface, though. The kids will like it. I enjoyed reading it. In keeping with Thompson's jam, this is hefty. I'm trying to remember EVER reading this long of a standalone GN for kids. That's a niche. Which is good. I just wish it blew me away a bit more.

  8. 4 out of 5

    orangerful

    Just so disappointed. I loved Habibi and Blankets, so I was really excited to read Thompson's venture into children's comics. But this fell flat to me. Too many agendas, too many soap boxes, far too text heavy and the panels on some page were a mess. And in the end, it had a cliche ending that didn't even make the rest of the story worth my time. The art and coloring are very nice. The story was a huge letdown. I had to speedread the last few chapters just to get it over with so I could make sure Just so disappointed. I loved Habibi and Blankets, so I was really excited to read Thompson's venture into children's comics. But this fell flat to me. Too many agendas, too many soap boxes, far too text heavy and the panels on some page were a mess. And in the end, it had a cliche ending that didn't even make the rest of the story worth my time. The art and coloring are very nice. The story was a huge letdown. I had to speedread the last few chapters just to get it over with so I could make sure there wasn't some twist I was missing. But, no, it was a huge letdown.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Faith Erin Hicks

    Beautiful artwork, absolutely incredible looking book. Characters & story were ... not great.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Donalyn

    I loved Thompson's adult graphic novels like Blanket and Habibi (you should definitely read those), but I found this book condescending to children. Whale poop as fuel? Diarrhea as a threat? Weird pop culture references like "Buttlestar Paintallica"? The art is stunning, but I would pass kids Amulet and Zita and Princeless and Lumberjanes instead. I loved Thompson's adult graphic novels like Blanket and Habibi (you should definitely read those), but I found this book condescending to children. Whale poop as fuel? Diarrhea as a threat? Weird pop culture references like "Buttlestar Paintallica"? The art is stunning, but I would pass kids Amulet and Zita and Princeless and Lumberjanes instead.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Eva

    This is one of the.few graphic novels for children that got translated into Dutch. I loved it, and so did my daughter. The book sits permanently on her nightstand. It's adventurous, full of humor and with an adorable main character. Violet is a young girl whose father one day doesn't return from his work. The three of them live on a spaceship, but have to look for a place once Violets dad disappears. Violet doesn't believe he is dead and sets out to find him. The artwork is beautiful, as always This is one of the.few graphic novels for children that got translated into Dutch. I loved it, and so did my daughter. The book sits permanently on her nightstand. It's adventurous, full of humor and with an adorable main character. Violet is a young girl whose father one day doesn't return from his work. The three of them live on a spaceship, but have to look for a place once Violets dad disappears. Violet doesn't believe he is dead and sets out to find him. The artwork is beautiful, as always with Craig Thompson. The story is not always as lighthearted as it seems. Imagine being about 9 or 10 and losing your father... That message comes across strongly. There's a lot in it about familyrelations, friendship and lonelyness. Recommended!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Martina Krausová

    Pretty cute but chaotic story. Don't know what else to say about it :D Pretty cute but chaotic story. Don't know what else to say about it :D

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sam Bloom

    Was with this one all the way, until the fat-shaming part where the (admittedly minor, but still...) character with the overeating/obesity issues was used as the butt of jokes. Not cool.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sean

    I would expect better consideration of readers from Scholastic; Thompson tends to sum up events redundantly (sometimes even two or three times) as if he has zero confidence in his readers' ability to follow the plot and action. There's a fair bit of moralizing, too, with an ending featuring the characters breaking the fourth wall to reinforce the book's "message." It's impossible to ignore the book's shortcomings, including an overly long stretch of exposition at the outset, but it's equally imp I would expect better consideration of readers from Scholastic; Thompson tends to sum up events redundantly (sometimes even two or three times) as if he has zero confidence in his readers' ability to follow the plot and action. There's a fair bit of moralizing, too, with an ending featuring the characters breaking the fourth wall to reinforce the book's "message." It's impossible to ignore the book's shortcomings, including an overly long stretch of exposition at the outset, but it's equally impossible to ignore the quality of the art, paneling, and technical skills Thompson displays. The man is a comics master; I just wish his editor(s) spent more time reining him in. Voice is inauthentic (many characters experience sudden revelations that don't feel earned) and worst of all, we hear the author's voice coming through characters quite frequently. The usual Thompson elements are present, including Biblical allusions (in this case, entirely forced) and references to typical Wisconsin staples (muskies, lumberjacks, etc.) that give the book an inconsistent albeit unique feel. It's hard for me, as someone who lists Blankets and Goodbye, Chunky Rice as two of his favorite graphic novels, to give a Thompson book three stars. But ultimately a book's quality has to come down to story, characterization, and plot--all of which this book is seriously lacking. There are plenty of touching, humorous, and/or clever moments throughout, but they just don't come together in any meaningful or thoughtful manner. I would think that most kids would enjoy the book, but few of them would revisit it or really come away with much of anything in terms of lasting impressions. So much talent and time went into this book, and it fell flat for me. I sincerely hope Thompson veers away from kidlit and back to middle-grade or YA as this age range is definitely not his strong suit.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mitchell

    Huh? What? Well that certainly wasn't Blankets or Habibi. First of all it was an upbeat adventure. Sure it was a plucky young girl and her new friends saving the world and her dad from Space Whale Poop caused by evil scientists. But the art was rich and detailed if almost garish. The aliens were alien but completely recognizable. There's a lot that could be read into this one about destroying the environment and misuse of the proletariat. And Moby Dick of course. But it was also a fun read all t Huh? What? Well that certainly wasn't Blankets or Habibi. First of all it was an upbeat adventure. Sure it was a plucky young girl and her new friends saving the world and her dad from Space Whale Poop caused by evil scientists. But the art was rich and detailed if almost garish. The aliens were alien but completely recognizable. There's a lot that could be read into this one about destroying the environment and misuse of the proletariat. And Moby Dick of course. But it was also a fun read all the way through from beginning to end.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Barb (Boxermommyreads)

    I remember hearing about this book when it first came out, but in 2015 I hadn't really tried graphic novels. Then when I started reading them, I didn't even think to see if my library carried it. A few weeks ago I saw "Space Dumplins" mentioned on Booktube, looked on my library site, and hit reserve. "Space Dumplins" is advertised as juvenile fiction, but I think anyone who enjoys graphic novels would enjoy it. The artwork is bright, colorful and quite intricate. Violet's father is a space scaven I remember hearing about this book when it first came out, but in 2015 I hadn't really tried graphic novels. Then when I started reading them, I didn't even think to see if my library carried it. A few weeks ago I saw "Space Dumplins" mentioned on Booktube, looked on my library site, and hit reserve. "Space Dumplins" is advertised as juvenile fiction, but I think anyone who enjoys graphic novels would enjoy it. The artwork is bright, colorful and quite intricate. Violet's father is a space scavenger and her mother an aspiring space designer. One day her father takes a secret mission and suddenly disappears. About that time, the galaxy is being inundated with space whale diarrhea - giant purple space whales - and they are rather cute. Violet teams up with a team of misfits to look for her father and in the process, tries to save a captured baby whale. I loved Violet and her misfit team. My favorite is Elliot the Chick. His father, a mad chicken scientist, abandoned him when he was young and although quite bright, he has no social skills. Below are a few pics of Elliot. And I forget to mention, every time he gets nervous, he has seizures, and Violet comforts and takes care of him where no one has before. "Space Dumplins" is a story about friendship, family, adventure and how people are ruining the ecosystem. It's told in a fun and innovative way and I really enjoyed reading this rather lengthy graphic novel. If any of these topics interest you, or if you want to meet Elliot for yourself, then grab a copy and enjoy the space ride!

  17. 5 out of 5

    S.E. Anderson

    Totally fun, quirky space adventure for kids of all ages. I was absolutely absorbed by the beautiful artwork. Craig Thompson did an impeccable job creating a fully immersive world, full of characters that manage to be simultaneously zany and believable. It's not every day you have a chicken walking and talking besides humans in space, but it made sense in the context. I was given this book as a gift, and I think neither me nor my friend realized it was going to be "for children," and it was only a Totally fun, quirky space adventure for kids of all ages. I was absolutely absorbed by the beautiful artwork. Craig Thompson did an impeccable job creating a fully immersive world, full of characters that manage to be simultaneously zany and believable. It's not every day you have a chicken walking and talking besides humans in space, but it made sense in the context. I was given this book as a gift, and I think neither me nor my friend realized it was going to be "for children," and it was only after I read the reviews that we had a good laugh about that. The book is definitely for readers of any age, just with clean language, less violence, and a whole lot of poop jokes (that should have been my first clue). But as a science fiction lover, that did not put me off. Other reviewers have mentioned how some plot points felt rushed, but this is a massive graphic novel, and it manages to cover a lot in a 'short' time. It brings up themes of class division, and family being more than just blood. It doesn't go into depth, but it doesn't need to. It's a story focusing on a child looking for her father, and as of such we get a child's point of view. She gets small lessons on altruism but nothing is going to change overnight. All in all, super fun book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Logan Johnson

    I've read this book many times before, but every time I read it, I think it gets worse. Every. Single. Time. I've read this book many times before, but every time I read it, I think it gets worse. Every. Single. Time.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Liviania

    Craig Thompson is the author of numerous acclaimed graphic novels, including BLANKETS and HABIBI. His first graphic novel for young readers is a heartwarming tale of family, both the kind you're born with and the kind you find, and whale diarrhea. All in all, it's a space adventure that all ages can enjoy. Violet, her mother, and father live happily in a space trailer park. He salvages whale poop, which is used for energy. Her mother works in fashion and just got a job on a satellite, a job that Craig Thompson is the author of numerous acclaimed graphic novels, including BLANKETS and HABIBI. His first graphic novel for young readers is a heartwarming tale of family, both the kind you're born with and the kind you find, and whale diarrhea. All in all, it's a space adventure that all ages can enjoy. Violet, her mother, and father live happily in a space trailer park. He salvages whale poop, which is used for energy. Her mother works in fashion and just got a job on a satellite, a job that could move their family up in the world. I think the class conflicts that run through SPACE DUMPLINS are well done. There are arguments kids might've heard in their own homes, but translated into space (which makes everything more exciting). The environmental themes are also presented well, just goofy enough not to be overly heavy handed. My favorite thing about this graphic novel might be all the puns. I think I'm going to have to read it again to make sure that I get all of them. There's a lot of cleverness flying about in the text and the images. Thompson's space is a busy place, full of activity and bright colors. (The contrasting colors make it easier to see what's happening.) There's all sorts of details to distract and catch your eye. I think the hyperactive style suits the wackiness of the story as well as the age group. I don't think SPACE DUMPLINS will be a graphic-novel classic like BLANKETS or HABIBI. But it is fun, sweet, and silly. That makes it a pretty appealing read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    K

    Ideal for jr. high kids & younger. The reliance upon space-whale feces for advancing the plot got old for me. I think I picked this up in my search for good books with female main characters. Yes, the main character was female, but the entire rest of the cast of the book, with the exception of her mother, were male. *sigh* The "villain" brought up an essential problem....sentient life in space relies upon space-whale excrement for power. Unfortunately, the space whales eat entire planets and hav Ideal for jr. high kids & younger. The reliance upon space-whale feces for advancing the plot got old for me. I think I picked this up in my search for good books with female main characters. Yes, the main character was female, but the entire rest of the cast of the book, with the exception of her mother, were male. *sigh* The "villain" brought up an essential problem....sentient life in space relies upon space-whale excrement for power. Unfortunately, the space whales eat entire planets and have caused at least one species of humanoids to become essentially extinct. They are truly a danger to any non-mobile creatures. The villain is attempting to find a new power source, allowing them to exterminate the space whales and allow those who live in poverty (the affluent are more mobile) to live in relative safety. He is doing so by studying the digestive processes of a baby whale, having anesthetized and opened one up. The protagonists seem to be about 6-9 yrs old and take offense at his methods and free the baby. The problem with finding a power source that also allows impoverished space dwellers to not fear for their lives is completely dropped from the plot. There were a couple of problematic dialogue lines that were sexist, as well as one demeaning to people with learning disabilities, that I was surprised to see in a book published in 2015. Overall, fine to let your kids read, but for me....I'd say take a pass.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    Craig Thompson has created two of the finest graphic novels in the history of the medium, Blankets and Habibi. I suppose that has something to do with Space Dumplins being such a disappointment. There was probably a good story in here initially with young Violet and her parents trying to make a good life for themselves in outer space, challenged by her dad's dangerous job, her mom's work and class prejudices. Yet Thompson squeezes in way too many other elements that distract from the story, such Craig Thompson has created two of the finest graphic novels in the history of the medium, Blankets and Habibi. I suppose that has something to do with Space Dumplins being such a disappointment. There was probably a good story in here initially with young Violet and her parents trying to make a good life for themselves in outer space, challenged by her dad's dangerous job, her mom's work and class prejudices. Yet Thompson squeezes in way too many other elements that distract from the story, such as issues of religion, the environment, consumerism, social consciousness, and literally saving the whales, to name a few. Kids might enjoy the book's many puns, but will surely be confused by all the adult pop culture references. The art - while often fantastic - is just too busy and sometimes frantic, leading to a reading experience that literally tired me out. I hope that Thompson finds his way again with his next project. I have my fingers crossed.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Michael Rhode

    After Thompson's Orientalist tour-de-force Habibi, this book is absolutely bizarre. The father is a miner/lumberjack of space whale poop, which is the energy source that runs multiple space stations, filled with sweatshops and aliens. The mother is a seamstress with a talent for design who's plucked out of a sweatshop to work on a safer space station, and brings her daughter along after the whales ate her school. While on the station, she meets a sentient chicken boy who sources buttons for the After Thompson's Orientalist tour-de-force Habibi, this book is absolutely bizarre. The father is a miner/lumberjack of space whale poop, which is the energy source that runs multiple space stations, filled with sweatshops and aliens. The mother is a seamstress with a talent for design who's plucked out of a sweatshop to work on a safer space station, and brings her daughter along after the whales ate her school. While on the station, she meets a sentient chicken boy who sources buttons for the designer. It gets weirder from there. I have no idea how children will take to this book, but I enjoyed it in the way that I enjoy late Kirby. Just hold on and marvel.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Charles Hatfield

    Hugely ambitious (hey, it's a Craig Thompson book!) and gorgeously crafted, and yet a bit strained, I think: the characters come across as counters in a grand game, not as characters capable of surprising you and winning you over. (The three principals too obviously represent some kind of psychomachia, a sort of Kirby/Spock/McCoy triad chosen for symbolic significance.) The book feels overdone, overbaked, excessive, and too deliberately programmed; beautiful, yes, but also crowded and airless. I Hugely ambitious (hey, it's a Craig Thompson book!) and gorgeously crafted, and yet a bit strained, I think: the characters come across as counters in a grand game, not as characters capable of surprising you and winning you over. (The three principals too obviously represent some kind of psychomachia, a sort of Kirby/Spock/McCoy triad chosen for symbolic significance.) The book feels overdone, overbaked, excessive, and too deliberately programmed; beautiful, yes, but also crowded and airless. I expect I'll be returning to it to study Thompson's layouts and (of course lovely) drawing, but not out of affection for its characters or faith in its story. Thompson really needs a fierce editor.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    The art was great! I loved the family dynamic between Violet & her parents. Violet kicked some serious butt--she was smart, resourceful & stood by her friends (I have a special fondness for Elliot the Chicken) But the whole whale poop thing just seemed silly. I guess I'd have to say overall it seems half baked. He has some great characters and doesn't quite know what to do with them. Bummer because it really is charming. The art was great! I loved the family dynamic between Violet & her parents. Violet kicked some serious butt--she was smart, resourceful & stood by her friends (I have a special fondness for Elliot the Chicken) But the whole whale poop thing just seemed silly. I guess I'd have to say overall it seems half baked. He has some great characters and doesn't quite know what to do with them. Bummer because it really is charming.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Drew

    I was pretty disappointed when I discovered Thompson's new book is a kid's book. I really enjoy Blankets and especially Habibi. The art work is as awesome as you would expect from Thompson. The coloring, by the omnipresent Dave Stewart, adds a nice dimension to the work. The narrative is very long and ultimately not fulfilling but it allowed Thompson to draw many interesting things. It was a fun read while it lasted, just not very impactful. I was pretty disappointed when I discovered Thompson's new book is a kid's book. I really enjoy Blankets and especially Habibi. The art work is as awesome as you would expect from Thompson. The coloring, by the omnipresent Dave Stewart, adds a nice dimension to the work. The narrative is very long and ultimately not fulfilling but it allowed Thompson to draw many interesting things. It was a fun read while it lasted, just not very impactful.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jasmine

    Absolutely beautiful art, fun world-building, and enjoyable characters. Unfortunately it kinda struggles to finds its feet tonally between poop jokes and quips about abandonment issues, an inditement of globalization and a message of Stay In School Kids, and it never quite nails any of these.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    Things I love about this book: 1. Violet's dad, Gar, is a redhead tattooed lumberjack who is on probation. 2. The crisis is that everything gets covered in whale diarrhea. JK. I love everything about it. Things I love about this book: 1. Violet's dad, Gar, is a redhead tattooed lumberjack who is on probation. 2. The crisis is that everything gets covered in whale diarrhea. JK. I love everything about it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin

    Art is amazing as always.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kenya Starflight

    I've never read a graphic novel by Craig Thompson before, but "Space Dumplins" seemed like as good a place as any to start, if only because it was the only one available at our library. The artwork looked bright and colorful and fun, and if nothing else I figured it'd be a fun diversion. What it ended up being is something of a muddled mess -- it tries too hard to pander to both kids and adults, and as a result it ends up satisfying neither. Violet is the daughter of a space "lumberjack" -- her d I've never read a graphic novel by Craig Thompson before, but "Space Dumplins" seemed like as good a place as any to start, if only because it was the only one available at our library. The artwork looked bright and colorful and fun, and if nothing else I figured it'd be a fun diversion. What it ended up being is something of a muddled mess -- it tries too hard to pander to both kids and adults, and as a result it ends up satisfying neither. Violet is the daughter of a space "lumberjack" -- her daddy's job is to harvest the whale, um, waste that the galaxy uses as fuel. When her father goes missing on a dangerous assignment, Violet decides its her job to find him, and she enlists the help of her zany junkyard-alien buddy Zacchius and an intelligent, clairvoyant chicken named Elliot to find him. But it's a dangerous galaxy, made even more dangerous by the planet-eating whales whose waste is flooding the universe with toxic sludge, by pirates with a grudge against her best friend Zacchius... and by a dangerous conspiracy with her father in the thick of it! The artwork of this graphic novel is by far its strongest point, full of colorful and creative visuals. The design is extremely cartoony, bringing to mind some of the popular cartoons of the '90s, and unlike a lot of space epics pops with bright colors. At times the visuals are a little TOO busy to tell what's going on, however, and while the cartoony and goofy worlds and designs will appeal to kids, they came off as a little too goofy for me. The story itself... is a mess. The graphic novel wants to have its cake and eat it too, trying to entertain kids with wacky slapstick hijinks and bathroom humor galore (when the plot hinges on space-whale diarrhea, this is a given), but also packing in messages about environmentalism and the evils of capitalism with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. I'm not anti-environmentalist and I believe there are problems with capitalism as we know it today, but these messages feel extremely forced and like they beat the reader over the head at every opportunity. A case of "don't shoot the message," I suppose... There's also a baffling amount of Biblical symbolism in this book, which is odd because this isn't a Christian book by any means and the symbolism doesn't serve the story. As for the characters... the only one I enjoyed was Elliot, the chicken. Zacchius was far too rude and wacky-for-wacky's sake for me, and attempts to make me sympathize with the character fell flat. Violet herself has a bit more personality, but her own story arc feels done to death, and little is done to make her character unique or relatable. The rest of the characters are either bland or just wholly unlikable, and none are memorable enough that their names stand out. While I'm sure kids will enjoy the colorful artwork and the gross humor of this book, I doubt they'll get much out of the confusing, heavy-handed story. I don't know if I'm going to give Thompson's work another shot at this point, and it's hard for me to recommend "Space Dumplins" to anyone, kid or adult.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Alicea

    Space Dumplins by Craig Thompson utilized all of the keywords that normally make me sit up and take notice: space adventure, hi-jinks, talking chickens... I absolutely loved the super colorful illustrations but as far as the story...it didn't completely blow me out of the water. Our main character, Violet, is a little girl living in the Roids which is a space community comprised of members of the working classes (classism is an issue). Her father is employed in a dangerous (and morally suspect) Space Dumplins by Craig Thompson utilized all of the keywords that normally make me sit up and take notice: space adventure, hi-jinks, talking chickens... I absolutely loved the super colorful illustrations but as far as the story...it didn't completely blow me out of the water. Our main character, Violet, is a little girl living in the Roids which is a space community comprised of members of the working classes (classism is an issue). Her father is employed in a dangerous (and morally suspect) line of work gathering space whale nuggets (poop) which are manufactured to be used as fuel. Things have become increasingly dangerous especially for those living on the fringes as the whales have started to invade populated areas of space and cause massive damage in their wake including Violet's school. So when Violet's mom is offered a swanky job in fashion at the space station (where the extra swanky live) she snaps it up without hesitation and takes Violet with her hoping to earn more money and get her daughter a high class education. But things go from bad to worse in the Roids while they're away and Violet's father is somehow all mixed up in it. With the aid of her friends Zacchaeus (looks like a talking bean) and Elliott (actually is a talking chicken) Violet sets off on a mission to save her father and bring an end to the destruction and terror wrought by the wild space whales. Why are they on a path of devastation and mayhem? And what exactly does her father have to do with all of this? If you're interested in finding out the answers then check out Space Dumplins. My take: 6/10 mostly for the awesome illustrations. Slightly spoiler-y warning: There are vivid depictions of animal cruelty in this book so if you can't deal with that (and I don't blame you because I had a lot of difficulties) then give this book a pass.

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