The Barnabus Project

The Barnabus Project
written and illustrated by the Fan Brothers with Devin Fan
Tundra Books, 2020
978-0-73526-326-0 (hc) $23.99
978-0-7352-6327-7 (eBook) $11.99
for all ages

Picture Book | Pets | Diversity | Courage | Hope | Cooperation | Loyalty | Friendship

How very disheartening to be labelled a failure! Curiously half mouse and half elephant, Barnabus resides in a secret lab hidden deep below street level beneath the Perfect Pets store where genetically engineered “perfect” pets can be purchased. Because Barnabus is far from flawless, he, as well as his imperfect companions, are confined to bell jars in the section of the lab labelled “Failed Projects”. Here, they are inspected by the Green Rubber Suits who peek, prod and feed them. What a desolate existence!

When Barnabus inquires what lies beyond the lab, Pip, a roving cockroach, shares stories about the world above: “Stories about a sparkling silver lake, green trees, and mountains that reached all the way to the sky, lit with their own stars.” Just the place for Barnabus! When Pip warns that the imperfects are soon to be recycled and re-created as perfect pets, Barnabus leads them in a daring bid for freedom where acceptance awaits… “a place full of sunshine and happy noises, green trees and soft grass. A place that might be home.”

This timeless and multi-layered story imparts some profound messages to all ages: Be true to yourself. Demonstrate loyalty to friends. Pursue your dreams. Even amid the depths of despair, there is hope.

The Fan Brothers’ soaring imaginations have not only produced a fantasy-filled underworld inhabited by strange creatures, but also a surreal world above ground which juxtaposes the familiar with the strange and surprising. Rendered in graphite and coloured digitally, their fascinating illustrations will amaze and confound readers on every page.

Senta Ross is a former elementary teacher and teacher-librarian in Kitchener, Ontario.

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