Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Cici's Journal: The Adventures of a Writer in Training by Joris Chamblain and Aurelie Neyret (First Second)

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but there's definitely nothing wrong with being a young and curious writer-in-training, right Cici?
The achingly beautiful "Cici's Journal: The Adventures of a Writer in Training" by Joris Chamblain and Aurelie Neyret sets a colossally high standard for kid-friendly comics to follow.

Suitable for the older end of middle grade, the story opens with our hero firmly setting her sights on becoming an investigative journalist and writer.

Cici's favourite subject is people, particularly adults and she keeps a detailed journal of the various comings and goings around her neighbourhood.

Most people seem like ordinary everyday folk, and Cici finds it a bit frustrating that most seem to lead fairly shallow lives. But then one old man in particular piques her interest.

Every Sunday he disappears into the local forest, armed with pots of paint.

The old man constantly looks sad, and Cici begins to piece together clues on what he's up to. Her discovery might just uncover an intricate mystery, just the sort of thing for a budding writer to sink her teeth into.

Joris' writing is amazing, picking out characteristics that readers will instantly recognise in people they know themselves.

Cici is a fantastic character too, the sort of girl that Charlotte idolises in children's stories, bang on the right age group appeal for her, and with the same natural curiosity and indeed the same people-watching skills (sorry, inherited from her parents who are both keen people watchers too, right Mummy?) that Cici herself demonstrates.

Aurelie's art is to DIE for! If this doesn't bring her to the attention of comic lovers everywhere, in fact art lovers everywhere, there's no justice in the world - her work is just INCREDIBLE (as you can see from the cover shot above - the art inside this graphic novel is every bit as good and chock full of atmospheric detail as Cici's mini mystery begins to unfold).

Tapping into that middle grade obsession with scrapbooking, writing and doodling, this is a fantastic little story full of wry observations on the human condition. Almost like a middle-grade-friendly version of the movie "Amelie" if you wanted a more familiar point of reference.

"Cici's Journal: The Adventures of a Writer-in-Training" by Joris Chamblain and Aurelie Neyret is out on 7th November 2017, published by First Second Publishing (Kindly supplied in digital format for review).