It’s all fun and games till your best friend bites off your tail. In her latest picture book, Antoinette Portis expertly captures the dynamics of human toddler play in the form of two aliens from planet Boborp.
“Yelfred and Omek have been best frints since they were little blobbies.” This, the book’s opening sentence, gives readers a taste of the creative wordplay therein. Portis also brings readers a Boborpian Glossary on the front and back endpapers—which are, quite possibly, the most entertaining endpapers of the year. There’s almost no need for this glossary, as readers will run with the alien words, assimilate quickly and have a blast.
On planet Boborp, “teef” are long and tempers short. This, Portis notes with a knowing wink to the reader, is not at all how it is on Earth. Heightened emotions and fierce loyalties are the name of the game, as Yelfred and Omek’s playdate—starting with a “nice yunch”—devolves into a mighty meltdown. After all, frints on this planet tend to “use their teef and not their words.” Not like on Earth, of course. When one frint bites the other’s tail off—don’t worry, they regenerate on Boborp—the friendship is momentarily ended. Until it’s not. Because this is the way of young creatures, no matter the planet they call home.
Portis’ palette is eye-popping (no pun intended, given that the frints’ favorite game is eye ball in the peedle pit, which involves playing catch with eyeballs) with bright, heavily saturated hues. The humor and pacing are spot-on, and in the closing endpapers, readers will find an invitation to make up their own words. (“Your turp!”)
It’s out of this world.
Julie Danielson features authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children’s literature blog.