Childhood trauma is front and center in this series, and Don Borgmeyer’s handling of the issue is deft and heartfelt. While Issue #1 set the stage for Bart’s new life, Issue #2 has him struggling to live and survive in his new reality. Bart’s coping mechanism seems to be escapism, where he and his no-longer-toy-sized T. rex defeat evil forces. If it all sounds juvenile, I assure you that’s the plan. Borgmeyer’s script works so well because it not only speaks to childhood coping mechanisms in language that kids can comprehend, but it also should elicit a response from any adult with a smidge of empathy. This is basically Gen Z’s Calvin and Hobbes, for an audience with a working vocabulary about trauma, coping mechanisms, as well as the systemic issues within the foster care system in the United States, all wrapped up in a charming tale about a boy and his imaginary Mesozoic buddy. It’s a shining example of why #StoriesMatter. They give us a lens to examine narratives which may be less obvious to us, and while this may seem like a tangentially associated issue, it’s why we shouldn’t remove books about queer representation from schools. Stories help us see each other as much as they allow us to study ourselves. What Bart is discovering is that the world can be a harsh place, but there are ways to navigate that whilst staying true to yourself. That’s a human story. It’s very much a queer experience, too.
Visually, this book brings me so much joy to read. While the artwork may seem simple, I think that Kelsi Jo Silva’s artwork brings a certain sophistication to its sparseness. There is a lot of emotion packed into the body language that Silva captures in these characters. The page depicting how Madame Stockholm came to run a foster home is chilling! Silva’s colorwork perfectly complements their expressive linework, giving the art a childlike exuberance without compromising on elegance. I particularly love the way that Silva is able to communicate separate chronological moments with their colors. Toben Racicot’s lettering really nails the tone of this book, whether it’s big dinosaur roars or, y’know, very human reactions.
Overall, Borgmeyer et al. have something special here. These are characters that seem real despite the fantastical bits. Bart may not be a Chosen One in any sense, but it seems like he’s pretty special anyway.
Creative Team: Don Borgmeyer (writer), Kelsi Jo Silva (illustrator), Toben Racicot (letterer)
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