Pruett and Soo
Pruett and Soo
“Have you ever zigzagged?” Soo wanted to know. Pruett loved to zigzag, but he couldn’t show Soo. HE WAS IN SCHOOL!
Pruett is an angular life form with a monitor-shaped head on planet Monochrome where conformity and rule-following are the status quo and everyone and everything is black, white, and grey. When new student Soo arrives from planet Prismatic, her colourfulness, both literally and figuratively, disrupts the bleakness of Monochrome. Not only is Soo’s body multi-coloured and vibrant, surrounding her in an aura of verboten colour wherever she goes, but her flaunting of the rules - asking questions and being exuberant - is looked down upon. Soo befriends the reluctant Pruett who, inspired by his new friend, begins to both question and break Monochrome’s rules. This, in turn, starts a domino effect, and, soon, the whole planet is awash in colour and excitement.
The setting and the characters are unique, but the message of this book - be yourself, don’t conform - is obvious and predictable from the first page. Predictable characters serve the predictable narrative. Soo is very much a manic pixie dream girl who is brought into the narrative to teach Pruett, the rule-abiding male protagonist, how to really live. Often the dialogue feels forced and incongruous and is sprinkled with “alien” words - wowzl, poopzl, zeekzl - that are hard to read (Is it a 2? Is it a capital Z?) with the chosen font.
The digital illustrations are lively with a retro-future feel. It is obvious that illustrator Jorge Lacera had fun creating this world and its inhabitants. Like the text, the pictures transition from black and white to colour as the story moves forward. Sometimes, disharmony between the image and the text creates confusion about what is happening. A page near the end of the book features Pruett and Soo in the foreground, but the text is primarily speech bubbles from other characters and does not concern them.
While an ambitious and original take on a familiar theme, Pruett and Soo does not quite succeed. However, it is fun to both look at and read, and young readers may not care about more than that.
Toby Cygman is a librarian in Winnipeg, Manitoba.