Sunday, 15 March 2015

Captain Coconut & The Case Of The Missing Bananas

Captain Coconut & The Case Of The Missing Bananas

Anushka Ravishankar & Priya Sundram

As you no doubt know we at The Illustrated Forest are huge fans of Tara Books.  Their handmade books are incredible both in their production and content but we hadn't realised until now just how versatile a publisher they are.  Captain Coconut is the first graphic novel of theirs that we’ve seen and though not handmade like their other screen printed books, it has a unique beauty and vibrancy of its very own.

Meet Captain Coconut: smart as a whip with an air of self importance, a thorough fact checker with enough agility to smash a door down with an effortless leap (even if his tummy does sag comically to the side); he is the latest in the long line of famous detectives we adore and he has a case to solve: someone has been stealing Mrs.Y’s bananas.  Luckily Captain Coconut is on hand to help.  

Written by Anushka Ravishankar and illustrated by Priya Sundram, this graphic novel is the perfect  balance of word and image.  The text is full of jokes which emphasise Captain Coconut’s, at times, slow wits, and the imagery emphasises his vanity beautifully.  We are treated to dazzling brainwave eruptions as our hero connects ideas and as his brain (recurring throughout) pieces the puzzle together.  

Although the words and images are balanced beautifully this is a slightly older read and it should be noted that it’s potentially too sophisticated for the very young, but older children are sure to love it. Should the reader wish to break the book up, the story is divided into four sections, each with a sublime chapter-heading page to mark your place.  The page layouts are incredibly varied and keep the story moving at a speedy pace, meaning this hardback edition is the perfect size for an introduction to the world of graphic novels and is sure to be devoured by avid readers.  Sundram’s artwork is divine; it appears to be a digital collage mix of found objects and original artwork which she has blended seamlessly together; she has created a completely cohesive world for her characters to exist in.  The colour palette varies from muted to rich and is utterly gorgeous.  The whole book is absolutely drenched in good design and humour.

Captain Coconut & The Case Of The Missing Bananas is a ‘number mystery’ meaning that at the heart of its deduction is math.  Sound boring?  Well this book is anything but.  How many other graphic novels can boast not one but three song and dance intervals?  Captain Coconut is a joy from start to finish, rarely have we read a book that has made us laugh so much, or endeared us so quickly to the lead character.  This is the first book in the Captain Coconut series and we cannot wait to see what mystery he is set to solve next.

Top tip:  Should you wish to explore the book further with young readers, Tara Books have some ideas on how to do so here:

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