Though he’s imaginative and clever, Ducoboo is no star student. That title belongs to his seatmate, Leonie Gratin. Ducoboo spends most of his time in the corner with a dunce cap on his head. However, given that his best friend, Skelly (a talking skeleton), also hangs in that corner, it’s not such a bad life. Now if only his teacher, Mr. Latouche, would stop firing those multiplication questions at him!
If you or someone you know is a fan of Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes, you need to check out this book. Though Ducoboo isn’t the philosopher Calvin is, both boys share a dislike of doing their own schoolwork, have active imaginations, and frustrate their teachers.
There are differences of course. In Ducoboo’s world, figures hop off signs and carry reluctant students to school; “Acute Duncitis” is an actual disease – with rather amusing symptoms; no one is surprised by a living skeleton joining in the fun at the pool; and, my favorite, funerals are held for the end of vacation. Ducoboo’s Leonie also has more of a personality than Calvin’s Suzie. While Leonie might be conned once in a while by Ducoboo, she usually gets her own back again.
This collection of one- and two-page gags can be enjoyed by both school-aged children and adults. Zidrou, a former teacher, knows his subject well. He slides in moments that anyone who’s been on either side of the teacher’s desk will be able to relate to with ease.
Godi’s art style can best be described as a cross between John Stanley’s style on Little Lulu and Watterson’s style on Calvin. The physical action gags are clearly delineated and detailed. There’s a wonderful gag built around Ducoboo using a gadget to try to get Leonie’s homework, and being subsequently outsmarted by the red-headed girl.
My favorite gag, though, has to be the spy satellite. It’s awesome. It would make a wonderful poster.
Cinebook is to be commended for making this wonderful series available for English readers.
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