Random/Knopf. (Doodleville: Bk. 1). Jun. 2020. 288p. Tr $20.99. ISBN 9781984894700; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781984894717.
Gr 3-6–Chicago native Sell’s (The Cardboard Kingdom) latest graphic novel does triple duty as a tribute to the power of art, a message of the importance of friendship, and an inspired romp through the Windy City. The only child of busy parents who own a diner, nine-year-old Drew has few friends. Instead, she takes solace in her doodles, who, when they’re not hanging out in “Doodleville,” pop off the page and cause mischief. When Drew and her art club take a field trip to the Art Institute of Chicago, the doodles run amok among the famed paintings, frightening one of Degas’s ballet dancers and making a splash among Monet’s water lilies. When an angry museum bigwig scolds her for defiling a painting, Drew is consumed with worry, and her anxiety sky-rockets when her newest doodle, a leviathan, destroys Doodleville, invades the other club members’ (magical but better behaved) artwork, and devours another character. Though racked with guilt, she must overcome her angst before it envelops her, with the help of family and friends. Sell has crafted a tender yet action-packed tale of a young girl who uses her creativity as an outlet for her emotions and learns to draw strength from those around her. Vibrant, whimsical cartoons keep the focus on characters’ facial expressions. The tone and palette reflect the story; gentle, muted hues and controlled linework are replaced with angry purples and frenetic scribbles when the leviathan wreaks havoc.
VERDICT Aspiring artists, fans of The Cardboard Kingdom, lovers of graphic novels, and anyone struggling with friendship will appreciate Sell’s newest tale.

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