Ira Crumb, Friendship, Feelings, and Comedy in Picturebooks

So, last summer, a curious little picturebook arrived at our store, just in time for start of school jitters. I picked it up, read the title, and remembered how nerve-wracking September tended to be for me. Going back to school did not necessarily mean seeing your friends again–sometimes it meant your friends would be shuffled into a new section and you’d have to find some new people to spend the long hours with. (Indian schools. *shrug*) And if you’re new? A new level of stressful.

Thankfully, Ira Crumb is here to hold your hand. Ira Crumb Makes a Pretty Good Friend is  formatted like a picturebook, certainly works like one, but it also feels like a my-first-graphic-novel. A hilarious comic that presents the quest of finding a friend like it were an adventure. With the help of Josh Holinaty’s charming art, Ira Crumb’s little personality all but bursts out of the page. It’s a sweet story and even if it doesn’t really offer a solution, it could offer a reprieve from any friendship related concerns one might have in late August.

In Ira Crumb Feels the Feelings, now best friends, Ira Crumb and Malcolm Cake want to play a game. Thing is, they each want to play different games. When most of their other friends want to play Malcolm’s game, Ira feels left out. His sad feelings slowly take over him, until, spoiler alert: a fart joke saves the day. If Hrab’s first book was funny, this one is a comedic masterpiece. I may/may not have forced everyone on our staff to read it. Right from the cover, to the end pages, to small details in the middle of the story–like the bench donated by “President Malcolm” who probably invented tag–readers are allowed to giggle even as Ira is trying to sort through his emotions.

The artwork, as with the last book, is consistently bright and adorable. I don’t know how much direction went into the art, but the pictures and words go together perfectly, almost as if the same person created them. Which is, I guess, what you want with all picturebooks. And in the end, cloaked in the humour, is a sweet story of a boy of colour who is allowed to have emotions that aren’t happy. You don’t get enough of that … well, in any category of literature, actually.

Totally recommended, for you and/or the young reader in your life. Ira Crumb is a solid back-to-school buddy to have.