- Craig Graziano
Beep and Bah is the story of a robot and a goat on an adventure for the ages. A sock is missing its match, and it's up to this pair of unlikely friends to get it back. Daring Beep is game to search the entire world for the sock's "sole" mate while the more cautionary Bah follows behind.
The two explorers meet animals of all kinds. Each encounter plays as a short comedy sketch. James Burks' style is colorful and energetic. I'm not surprised to learn that he worked on some truly inspired animated films of the 1990's such as The Emperor's New Groove and The Iron Giant.
Thanks to Beep's intrepid search, we move quickly from cow to cockroach to giant squid. Beep seems to understand most species' calls, so he does the talking. In an absurd bit of clarification, every creature has a sign close by labeling what it is.
Furthermore, the designs of the characters are just plain fun. Beep is wonderfully drawn as a sort of cheery unicycle with arms. The book also features the most rectangular pig I have ever encountered. I'll have to scratch that one off of my bucket list.
Burks has also created a great introduction on how to read comics by putting panels on every page. Yes, even comics require a little bit of context before you jump right in. Children can learn how each panel progresses the story as their eyes move from left to right and top to bottom.
If you enjoy this adventure, I must suggest another friendship involving robots. Boy + Bot is the fun and gentle tale of two friends who attempt to understand each other despite their differences.
Of course, I also cannot resist mentioning the finest of all books in the "Animals Searching for Missing Clothing" genre: I Want My Hat Back. Compared to Burks' book, the illustrations are more low key and the humor is much drier. They might make for a nice discussion with your child about how two similar stories could also be so different.
Regardless, Beep and Bah might just be the greatest robot/goat team in literary history, even if they never find that missing sock. I certainly hope that they have some more adventures soon!