Wednesday, November 24, 2021

A Review of Zoo Patrol Squad: A New Sheriff in Town by Brett Bean

by Jason D. DeHart

Zoo Patrol Squad: A New Sheriff in Town, by Brett Bean, Penguin Workshop, ISBN 978-0-593-22660-5, $12.99,

To begin my review, I will note a few features in Zoo Patrol Squad: A New Sheriff in Town by Brett Bean: a feline character sending evil vibes with a tilted top hat is way too tall; a colorful and cartoonish western-style saloon setting; and comedic elements that hearken back to Mel Blanc ‘toons (e.g., animal characters in conflict, elements like dynamite and falling objects).

As a former English/language arts teacher, I will also call attention to the book’s wordplay. My favorite pun might be when the heroes walk into a saloon, encounter a table with cats all around, and one says: “Um…I need a drink right MEOW.” It is this kind of set-up that is a reminder that the book is meant to be fun. There is an element of nostalgia in the book for older readers, and an invitational nature of younger readers (the book’s most likely audience).

Bean draws in sweeping lines and the color choices are bright. Typographical choices punctuate the book with an additional layer of animated style. The book feels like a more static Saturday morning show, with a constant pause button that allows the reader to take in what the panels have to offer.

Is the book innovative in terms of comics? I am not sure that I can go that far. Is it entertaining? Yes, I can absolutely say that. Would I use it in the classroom? Again, yes to this question. Bean even includes some factual elements at the end of the book for readers who want to know more.

Of final note, I will return to the idea that the book (or ones can like) can simply entertain, and that this is enough. Bean includes an author note at the beginning, reminding the reader that the book was created during the COVID-19 pandemic. The author writes, “I laughed, I cried, and I escaped in creating this book,” before wishing the reader the same experience. I would say, in this and more, the book succeeds. 

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