Book review: Varmints, by Andy Hirsch

Hirsch, Andy. Varmints. First Second, 2016. 215p. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-62672-279-8. Ages 11-13. P8Q8

hirsch-varmintsOpie (Calliope) and younger brother Ned face one dilemma after another as they search for the mysterious crime king dad in the Wild West. Hirsch uses stereotypes of horse thieves, villains, cowboys, saloon brawls, etc. with skill, and young readers will enjoy descriptions such as a coonskin cap smelling “like ten butts.” Opie’s fierce defense of Ned despite their bickering gives a warm feeling to this graphic novel that started as self-published minicomics. They never find “dad” so a sequel is warranted. Amidst the misadventure, the background of the children is filled in to explain why they are out on their own.

Verdict: Despite some violence, the fantasy is just plain fun and depicts the problems of children without parents. A book that can be read on more than one level.

January 2017 review by Nel Ward.

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