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Friday, August 5, 2011

Binky To The Rescue, written and illustrated by Ashley Spires. Kids Can, 2010. $16.95 ages 5 and up

"Lately, Binky has intensified
his patrolling duties.
His speed...
His agility...
And his super fighting skills...
require all of his focus."

While Binky reckons himself a space cat, he is not. He lives in a urban abode, which he considers a space station and he fancies himself to be charged with the security and safety of his humans. It is a lot of work, and he is relentless in his pursuit of all alien beings...bugs, bees, and all other menacing creatures.

His dealing with one small fly leads to an unexpected fall through the bathroom window. Binky finds himself, vulnerable in outer space, which is actually the back yard. Being out there offers new adventure and many previously undiscovered dangers. A garden gnome offers a hiding place and a water hose provides much needed oxygen. Once oxygenated, he can take the time to peruse this new environment. He journals what he is learning and collects data for future research.

When he notices Ted, alone outside and equally vulnerable, he devises a plan of action to save his beloved toy mouse. Ambushed by a swarm of bees, his plaintive calls are heard. His rescue is quick and effective and he finds himself inside once again.  Where is Ted? How could he have left him behind? What is he going to do now? His attempts to find his way outside again are thwarted by his incompetent and hardly helpful humans. They stop him at every turn, until he is forced to attempt a tunnel rescue. It works! Ted is back in the safety of the fold, and all seems to have returned to normal. Or has it?

There is much here to capture and hold the attention of young readers. Binky is just too funny, with his
hilarious attempts to find another means of escape and his bravado in the face of a perceived enemy. His new adventure will elate previous fans and garner new ones for a cat whose mission in life to save us from all alien life forms. While the reading level makes it accessible to early readers, the sophistication of the humor and the unwavering action will also appeal to older readers.

I admire Ashley Spires' ability to capture our attention without bright color and expansive backgrounds. She uses a subtle color palette, where the focus is always on a pudgy, black and white feline whose expressions offer clear understanding for his personality and keen insight. I love the sound effects, and kids will find humor in Binky's many actions, including his persistent 'pooting'. It won't be long until they are imitating a number of the sounds employed. The action is sustained through the use of multiple panels. This is a most satisfying sequel to the first Binky book, and will certainly find new fans.

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