I realize that kids play in the same way that D&D players conquer a dungeon that you’ve created. They explore with a random haphazardness (though the players will tell you they have a “system”) and manage to follow a tiny thread of information you put there for atmosphere, deciding to shun the quest laid out for them and barreling down a path you need to create on the fly. Children at play are learning how to interact with others and play “yes, and” better than anyone. Today, we are hiking in a jungle where we find a rocketship that takes us to a planet where aliens need help with their homework. That’s the same kind of tangential plotlines that Kochalka uses throughout the book, where any simple phrase can be the subject of the next great adventure. The only character who tries to keep everyone on a straight path is a sentient backpack that would make Bond jealous. Everyone else is 100% devoted to what’s right in front of them, and so on to any new topic that comes along. The objectives are simple and straightforward throughout, making the whole book easy to follow for young readers.
I love Kochalka’s art style. All of the character designs are unique and created in a way that can be replicated easily by the target audience. The bright colors and singular traits of every character make them easy to distinguish and follow, and the bouncy tone keep even the most dire circumstances in the realm of fun make-believe. Expressions are slightly exaggerated to help younglings create empathetic bonds with the characters and their problems. The locations are fun and help guide the play, and I don’t think there’s a more perfect image that I’ve seen than “Grandma” coming by in her spaceship to age all the children to their maturity.
This book is a blast for anyone who has young children, and the game online gives them a chance to more thoroughly interact with these fun characters. There's also a game available online at glorkianwarrior.com, where you can zap aliens by controlling your very own Glorkian Warrior and his Super Backpack! It's really fun, and the voices give a new level to the silly adventures. Check 'em both out.
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