I like Ashley Spires‘ sense of humor, and I can tell you that kids do too. It’s understated, a little wacky, and sweet. Small Saul, Spires’ tale of pirate diversity, was the overall favourite of the Blue Spruce titles at our school last year. We were rooting for it to be the big winner, and while it wasn’t, I’m sure that when kids read Larf they’ll be just as delighted and the Spires fan club will get even bigger.
Like Spires’ other creations, Binky the wannabe space cat and Saul, the Martha Stewart of pirates, Larf is an outsider. That happens when you’re a sasquatch. He is a gentle giant, living a simple life in the woods with his bunny, Eric. (Let’s stop right there. A bunny named Eric? You’re laughing, right?) Larf is sure he’s the only sasquatch, and he’s fine with that because he’s shy, and he’d rather jog or take walks with Eric or do some gardening. Then one day when he’s reading the paper, Larf learns that a sasquatch is scheduled to make an appearance in a nearby city. He’s a little uncertain if it’s the right thing to do, but Larf eventually decides to go see if it’s true. After all, how can he not want to meet the only other sasquatch in the world? Turns out, the whole thing is a stunt. Larf realizes it straight away: “Something doesn’t seem quite right. Why are its eyeballs not moving? Is that a zipper down its belly?” There’s a happy ending in sight for Larf, however, and it turns out that like man, no sasquatch is an island.
Larf is a feel good story. There’s not a lot of tension, but I don’t think that matters. There’s plenty of charm and trademark Spires humour. One of the parts of Small Saul that the kids at school liked most was the way that Spires inserted funny details into her pictures that were just as funny as the jokes in the text. That’s here this time as well, like Larf’s #1 Sasquatch mug and his hilarious bunny pack for carrying Eric. Plus, you gotta love the looks on everyone’s faces when they spot Larf walking along the city streets. Priceless.
In my opinion, Ashley Spires is well on her way to becoming one of the big names in Canadian Kids’ Lit. She’s a unique talent, and she’s charming kids and grown up readers alike with her quirky tales starring out-of-the-ordinary heroes.
Larf is published by Kids Can Press.