6yo Drake picked up Meno: Wet Friend! by Tony and Angela Deterlizzi from our public library. It stood out on the shelf; it’s small, bright and visually striking. As it notes on the cover, it’s “presented in vibrant Meno-Color!” What was inside, though, was initially disarming, and eventually charming. We quickly borrowed book one, Big Fun! Short, simple sentences sound like Japanese translated to English:
It is sunshine time in the house of Meno.
The art shows the influence of Japanese manga and has a 50’s retro, Astro Boy style. Meno is a cartoony kid with big eyes and a bigger head; he wears a school uniform and beanie, and is an elf from outer space. His best friend is Yamagoo, a floating, bespectacled sea creature. In Book One: Big Fun! Meno searches for Yamagoo, finds him, talks about breakfast:
We enjoy moo juice and dough with hole.
then announces it is time for big fun. I won’t spoil the joke, but Meno’s idea of fun was very funny to my 3 and 6yo boys.
In Wet Friend! Yamagoo wants a sea-faring companion, and several are offered, including one that’s clearly a shout-out joke to parents, as is the fractured English.
My 3 and 6yo boys laughed a great deal at the pictures, the silly language, and the jokes. These books are so simple they don’t even have a story, but they nonetheless got picked again and again at bedtime by my boys. We found them bizarre, but entertaining. Public reaction varies widely in the customer reviews at amazon.com, though the editorial reviews are full of praise. Many criticize their lack of story, poor English grammar and toddler humor. Others, as we did, find them weird but funny.
You can check out the artwork and style at PlanetMeno.com. Tony DiTerlizzi is the author and illustrator of the Spiderwick Chronicles, but this is for a much younger audience, and was inspired by the couples 2yo daughter.