Vern and Lettuce
Art and Story: Sarah McIntyre
Ages: 4 to 8
This book is a collection of weekly comic strips that author and illustrator Sarah McIntyre began for the British publication DFC in 2008. It chronicles the life and crazy adventures of Vern the sheep, his young friend Lettuce the rabbit and the motley crew of animals that live in and around their little apartment complex in Pickle Rye. Vern leads a quiet life - knitting (his own wool, of course) , baking, and trying to keep the local gang of biker moles from tearing up his beloved park. Joining him (and occasionally, adding to the mayhem) is his best friend, the irrepressible Lettuce , a rabbit prone to madcap plans. Every now and then, they are joined by Lettuce’s heap of baby siblings, whom the avuncular Vern affectionately babysits.
Aimed at a younger audience, the stories are short and cheerful, brimming with chatty animals doing quintessentially British things (much tea is taken, for instance), witty age-appropriate wordplay and lots of slapstick comedy. They start off as single page stories revolving around cheerful gags, then build into a longer story about the friends’ attempts to get onto a talent show. Eager to win fame, Lettuce persuades Vern to accompany her to the city and get on a TV show. Things take a turn for the worse when they are accosted by a mysterious aristocratic pigeon who just might not be all that he seems. Some chases, escape bids and thrilling confrontation later, Vern and Lettuce return home as heroes.
I enjoyed the illustrations and the hand-lettered text in the book. It is impossible not to be charmed by the book’s sunny characters and stories. McIntyre’s illustrations are lovely – simple but expressive line art, with a beautiful palette that starts off with muted, grainy hues, then bursts into colour as one progresses through the book. The book reminded me of the sweet and affable characters of the Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep series , both of which remain household favourites to this day.