Sunday, December 20, 2020

Review: Lemonade Code by Jarod Pratt

Graphic novels are a huge favorite with my middle grader. So, I'm always excited to pick one, I just might have a soft spot for these myself.
This one had such a cute cover and a wonderful blurb, that I had to give it a read. After all, I did have a lemonade stand as a kid and my own kids tried their luck with one a few times, too. To see this at the center of an entire story definitely caught my interest. 

by Jarod Pratt 
Oni Press
Middle Grade Graphic Novel 
Science Fiction
160 pages
ages 8 to 12

JANUARY 18th, 2021!!!

This is a fully illustrated graphic novel about a middle school super genius who starts a lemonade stand to fund his ultimate top-secret project, only to find unexpected competition right across the street when the new kid starts a rival stand.

Robbie Reynolds isn't just a genius. He's a super SUPER genius! But he doesn't have the cash to fund his ultimate (and top secret) project. That's why he's opening a lemonade stand. Not just any lemonade stand: this one is state of the art, and his automatista can make you any flavor of lemonade your heart desires! Bacon, salsa, potato salad, dirty diaper—anything you want.

Unfortunately, Robbie isn't the only one in the Lemonade Hustle. Daphne Du-Ri, his new across-the-street neighbor, has her own setup going, and something about her lemonade is resonating with people in ways Robbie's can't. Before the week is over, Robbie and Daphne are in a full-on Lemonade War.



After reading the blurb, I was excited to give this one a read...but to say it wasn't anything like I expected would be an understatement.

Robbie is a super-amazing, over-the-top genius. But he has a problem. His secret project has run out of funds. So, to help out, he creates a very special lemonade stand, where there isn't a flavor that his automatista can't create. It's an amazing stand, and it catches even more attention...and money...than he could have hoped for. When a cute girl opens a very simple lemonade stand across the street, he declares war, especially when she starts winning over customers with her very simple recipe. 

It took me a few pages to fall into the flow on this tale. The science fiction is heavy, and Robbie is more of a mad scientist than a kid. So, when this one starts out with a blast into high-tech, a genius Dr. Mama, and a boy, who is more than just a little energetic about threw me for a bit. But after I got a handle on the direction this book takes, things flowed much better. Just don't pick up this one and expect any sort of normality because it's not there.

This tale is fast-paced and races from one scene into the next. Robbie is all over the place, but it fits his character well, considering his mind must be one busy space. When he sees competition pop-up across the street, it's understandable that he'd be a bit protective and not overly friendly. Unfortunately, Robbie's head is so much in his own realm that he goes beyond normal rudeness, and despite the girl's positive nature, is simply a big, selfish jerk, who only shows kindness to his mother. It makes him very hard to like even when he does help 'save the world' at the end. He starts as a brat and ends as one, too. The girl is cute, though, and the dog definitely earns bonus points..

As to the illustrations, these are bright, bold and do bring the story to life. The scenes are well placed and allow the visual story to build with the written text. Like the tale itself, these sometimes were on the frantic end...but then, this one doesn't have a calm plot. The text blocks on the illustrations, unfortunately, hit the heavy side. I found myself skipping more than just a couple of them. I'm not sure the intended audience will take the time to read all of them, either. Plus, there are more than a couple heavier, scientific terms, which will be beyond what many of this age group can understand. However, I do appreciate how the author filtered these in with a fun plot. They just will go over some readers' heads.

All in all, this is an imagination packed read, which races through an original and exciting adventure. There are more than a few unexpected twists, and lemonade takes on an entirely new meaning after this book is done. Just don't pick it up with the expectation that it will have anything to do with how usual kids might stage a lemonade stand war.

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