Polo and the Magic Flute & Polo and Lily

These wordless books for young readers are whimsical and imaginative, providing a great introduction to the comic book medium.

Polo and the Magic Flute by Regis Faller

Polo is a little dog who lives in a tree surrounded by the sea. He goes out on his boat to catch some fish but a whale leaps over his boat creating a wave that sends Polo far away to the top of a steep hill. Polo’s boat falls down and crashes. While stranded he meets a panda in monk’s robes who hands him a flute and promptly disappears. Polo waits for the bus, but unfortunately it is a snail bus so it must not go very fast. The snail drops Polo off at a fancy pagoda, and when Polo climbs up to the top he meets his mysterious friend the panda. The panda shows Polo how to use the flute – the music powers flying carpets! They take off into the sky flying until they fall off the carpets into Polo’s tree house.

I appreciated the pacing and narrative flow of the panels in Polo. There are never more than four panels per page, and more often the action will be split between two panels. Younger readers who might not have been exposed to comics very much before will be able to easily follow the transitions between the illustrations as a splash of water introduces an annoyed looking whale, it leaps out of the water, and its tail disappears behind Polo’s boat, producing an enormous wave that sweeps Polo away. While the illustrations are simple, they are also sophisticated with unexpected coloring choices like a transition to a deep red for the sky that signals that Polo is in a country very far from home.

Polo and Lily by Regis Faller

Polo goes through a regular day at his house, watering the garden, preparing dinner, eating outside to watch the sunset, and getting ready for bed. Elsewhere a rabbit named Lily reclines and smiles as she travels through the sky on a grey cloud, accompanied by a suitcase and umbrella. In the morning Lily’s cloud becomes caught in the branches of Polo’s house and she lands on Polo’s bed. Polo gives her hot chocolate and is amused by her milk mustache. Lily is mischievous, liking to play pranks on Polo and proposing that they stick a ladder out of a window to use as a trampoline. Instead they meet some very startled fishes.

Lily and Polo have a fun visit, but eventually she whistles for her cloud and floats away with her red umbrella. Polo feels lonely when he goes back to his house and sees Lily’s suitcase. It starts ringing, and when Polo opens it up he finds a phone and joyfully utters the only word in the book, “Lily!”

While I think slightly older readers will appreciate the wordless story more, I shared the books with my toddlers and they enjoyed looking at the pictures as I described them and they pointed at symbols they recognized like the moon, stars, and sun. I enjoyed the character design and narrative in Polo and the Magic Flute and Polo and Lily. These are lovely books for young readers and great starter books to teach kids how to read comics and explore their own sense of storytelling.

Review copies provided by the publisher

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