Saturday, August 10, 2019

Review - Tomato Must Be Saved!

Tomato Must Be Saved! (The Adventures of Fede and Tomato #1)
by Luciano Saracino
illustrated by Gerardo Baró
Date: 2010
Publisher: Europe Comics
Reading level: C
Book type: graphic novel
Pages: 54
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

One morning, the circus arrives in Fede’s town. What a thrill! Now he has a chance to be a circus star! And there he goes, with his cat Tomato, avoiding any streets where he might run into Florencia (because Florencia is his girlfriend, but she doesn’t know it yet). Of course, things get complicated when the lion looks at Tomato with hungry eyes! And the adventure begins when... TOMATO MUST BE SAVED!

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I'm really not impressed with this one. Aside from the passable illustrations, it's an unrealistic story that manages to be scientifically inaccurate and kind of insulting to women.

This English adaptation needs some work. There are parts of the text that don't render properly (at least in the EPUB format), leading to words that are only half there. There are instances of some other language, which might be because those words are part of the illustrations... but there's one pretty glaring example where the ringmaster welcomes the audience to the "circo". English-speaking kids aren't necessarily going to know what that is. There are also some issues with the illustrations, such as when Fede goes flying into an empty seat next to Florencia... when just pages earlier, there was someone sitting next to her. (In fact, Fede comments on how there are so many empty seats, but that's apparently only when it's convenient to the plot.)

The whole bit with the lion is just ridiculous. First, the ringmaster threatens Fede with it. Then he steals Fede's cat, Tomato. Fede assumes (logically enough) that the cat's going to be fed to the lion. But that's not what happens. The ringmaster actually stole the cat to be the lion's butler because--wait for it--the lion is a vegetarian.

Give me a break.

Let's ignore for a moment that the ringmaster shouldn't be stealing pets, period. But that's the least of this story's ridiculousness. Fede "joins" the circus after dressing up as an acrobat. Nobody in the close-knit circus community seems to notice or care, which leads Fede into a wild trapeze act and getting shot out of a cannon. Then he runs backstage and encounters the lion (which is apparently allowed to run around unrestrained with no handler). It just isn't believable.

Neither is the turn of events toward the end, with Fede joining the circus for the summer. Florencia joins, too, because she apparently has no agency and only exists to be Fede's future girlfriend (only, as the synopsis states, "she doesn't know it yet"). At the end of the summer, the circus moves on... but Fede gets excited because a cinema opens up in town. He informs us that he's going to tell us the story of how he became a movie star (as if going to the movies at the local theatre is somehow the way actors get their big break).

As I said before, the illustrations are decent. Still, there are too many problems with the plot and too many issues with the formatting. I really can't recommend this one.

Thank you to NetGalley and Europe Comics for providing a digital ARC.

Plot: 2/5
Characters: 1/5
Pace: 2/5
Writing & Editing: 1/5
Illustration: 3/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 0/5

Overall Rating: 1.38 out of 5 ladybugs

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