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Randolph The Reindeer by Sean Patrick O’Reilly and David Alvarez (e-comic review).

November 26, 2020 | By | Reply More

Over 54 pages which alternate between big, bold text and cartoony art, ‘Randolph The Reindeer’ tells a story of learning to listen to others. Randolph takes part in the Reindeer Games but messes up by being arrogant and going too quickly, then takes someone on a sleigh ride and goes too fast there as well. Finally, he learns his lesson and puts things right.

All in all, it’s a story for a young age group but the text constantly works against this. So, like the trio of ghosts haunting Scrooge, I’m going to dig into the three problems I had with the writing.

The author has a bad habit of introducing characters simply by having them speak for the first time. It’s disconcerting when you read a line of dialogue and then it’s revealed that someone brand new just said it. I pity the parent who tries reading this to their child as it’s probably going to involve a lot of backtracking to re-read lines in a different voice.

The use of language is the next area I kept getting hung up on because with such a simple story, a lot of exclamation marks and very few words per page, this is very much pitched as a book for young kids. But then it drops in lines like ‘It’s called humility. Confidence smiles. Arrogance smirks.’ Again, if you’re trying to read this to a kid young enough to enjoy such a simple message, you’re going to have fun stopping the story to explain these concepts.

Finally, alongside new characters just being dropped in, so are new places, so at least the author is consistent. One page ends with Randolph mentioning a place and the next starts with them there and moving into a house and then the very next line a brand new character says the dialogue but we’ve covered that. It’s very difficult to build up a picture of where the action is taking place, which is ironic for a picture book.

If you’re wondering if there’s an end of review turnaround and I’m going to say, ‘but none of that matters!’ then I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed. All of that stuff very much matters in any book but especially so in a kid’s story. When there are so few words involved then every single one has to be precisely chosen and the language needs a rhythm when read aloud. I really don’t think that happens here and I kept going back through the book to check in case I’d missed something clever. As another example, there are too many occasions where the author straight out tells you something that the previous text line had described or repeats how a character is feeling right after they say so. You could try to argue that this is fine in a book for young readers but then there’s a page busting out words like arrogant, limitations and decisions, so the reading age jumps all over the place.

While the text didn’t work for me at all I thought the artwork was great, with very expressive characters drawn in a classic Disney style. Randolph looks quite a lot like Sven from ‘Frozen’. The hand-drawn characters don’t always sit well with the mix of blurred and computer rendered backgrounds but they’re cute and expressive enough to get away with it.

To be honest, I think this would have worked much better as a comic, with the art giving us some warning that a new character has appeared or the location has changed and their facial expressions showing us how they’re feeling. But, as it, is I’d only recommend ‘Randolph The Reindeer’ for those willing to do a lot of ad-libbing and improvising over the basic story while the kid looks at the pictures.

Stuart Maine

October 2020

(pub: Arcana, 2020. 54 page ecomic. Price: $ 3.99 (US). ISBN: 978-1-77135-289-5)

check out website: www.Arcana.com

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Category: Comics, Fantasy

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