Was Swapna Haddow a bad panda in another life? I think she must have been as she has captured the spirit and voice of Lin so fabulously! Lin, a super cute panda, is at the heart of this story, but being cute is not always as fabulous as it sounds, and maybe, just maybe, being bad is a better solution?
The language, imagery and jokes are superb! “The burden to be the best panda in the sanctuary weighed heavy on Lin like a pair of rusty anchors attached to another pair of rusty anchors attached to a pair of rusty knickers”
The expressive illustrations by Sheena Dempsy have a limited colour palette of red, black and white but even with this limited palette they capture the action and emotion of the characters, so much so that they feel like they are leaping off the page. I think it takes great skill to make an angry panda still look this cute!
Bad Panda straddles the line between novel and graphic novel, with some pages text heavy and others with speech bubbles and large pictures. I really like this balance, and I think that students will enjoy the variety too. The font has been specially chosen to support reading, this is a welcomed noticeable difference.
Bad Panda is hilarious! It is fast paced and will leave readers wanting more! Luckily this is the first in a series. Read it!
Title: Bad Panda
Author: Swapna Haddow
Illustrator: Sheena Dempsey
Publisher: Faber & Faber (distributed in NZ by Allen & Unwin)
Publication: December 2021
Do you have any advisory warnings for this book? No
Would this book work as a read aloud? Yes
Is there a particular part of the country that it’s set in? No
Reviewer: Louana McCormack, Librarian, Opaheke School, Auckland
How are you recommending this book? Highly recommended
Opening sentence: Are you sick of being utterly adorable?
You can buy this book here