Kodi by Jared Cullum. 176 p. Top Shelf Productions/ IDW Publishing, August, 2020. 9781603094672. (Review of finished paperback borrowed from public library.)
It is quite rare for a book to appeal to both avid and reluctant readers, but this gorgeous graphic novel does just that and I can't wait for my students to meet Katya and Kodi.
Katya is a comics-loving loner who is bullied mercilessly at school. She's staying with her motorcycle-riding Meema in the Alaskan wilderness. Her Meema wants her to get out and meet new friends. Katya just wants to stay in the cabin and read. She's forced to trek into town though, where she purchases a slushy drink and snacks. A sudden storm causes her to rush back home and along the way, she encounters a huge bear who is interested in her slushy. They're both startled by a huge clap of thunder and the bear becomes pinned by a fallen tree. Katya comforts the bear and races home for help when she finds she can't lift the tree. A reluctant Meema pulls the tree off the bear with rope and her trusty motorcycle, then tends to its wounds. Katya names him Kodi and feeds him salmon while he heals. Once he's back on his feet, the two enjoy spending time together in the woods.
When Katya needs to leave suddenly to return to Seattle, she leaves Kodi with a photo and a painting of the Needle. Kodi is bereft and treks each day to the docks in search of Katya. One day, a ship docks for the day from Seattle and Kodi stows away. Nothing will keep him from finding Katya, who, in the meanwhile is perfectly miserable at school.
Though the premise is a bit unbelievable, every second is utterly believable thanks to the author/ artist's nuanced, immersive and gorgeous water color panels. The book also gets better with each rereading as the reader notes new details. There were a couple of unanswered questions though-like where are the parents? And, why is Katya so terrified of water? GoodReads labelled this book #1. Here's hoping those questions are answered in book #2.
I just adore this book and look forward to getting it into my students' hands.