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Sanity & Tallulah

Book review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
Sanity & Tallulah Book Poster Image
Lively graphic novel offers smart-girl adventures in space.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Science fiction graphic novel meant to entertain.

Positive Messages

Some weakly conveyed messages about getting an adult's help when things get out of hand. Even after facing consequences for breaking rules and causing trouble for others, Sanity and Tallulah continue to take matters into their own hands. They're only trying to help, and ultimately everything resolves safely, so messages about getting help when you're in over your head are muddled with the heroics of acting quickly in dangerous situations.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Sanity and Tallulah are smart, creative problem solvers who model scientific inquiry and loyal bonds of friendship. Tons of diverse representation from characters of different ethnicities, body types, and physical abilities. Background scenes and characters are also diverse and show a large, thriving society without social or physical barriers. Women, people of color, and a man with a prosthetic leg are shown in positions of authority as well-rounded, intelligent, capable people.

Violence

A hand getting burned in a fire is dramatic but not graphic or gory. Characters are in danger from giant rodents and are shown fending them off by swinging large tools. A student claims her pet gerbil was murdered and mentions seeing blood and intestines. Drawings of dead fantasy creatures aren't gory or graphic and have Xes for eyes.

Sex
Language

"Damn" and "hell."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sanity & Tallulah is a sci-fi graphic novel about two smart-girl best friends who live on a space station. There are lots of positive and diverse representations of characters with a variety of ethnicities, body types, and abilities. Different types of people are shown as competent and clever in positions of authority. Strong language is limited to a couple of instances of "damn" and "hell." There's some scariness from characters in danger; one drawing shows a hand getting burned and a couple others show dead fantasy creatures, all without being graphic or gory at all. A "murdered" gerbil is mentioned along with seeing blood and intestines, but it's not illustrated. Positive messages about problem solving and teamwork are a bit muddled by Sanity and Tallulah not learning to get help when things are out of control, yet managing to save the day.

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What's the story?

SANITY & TALLULAH are best friends in grade 8, living aboard a remote outpost known as Wilnick Space Station. One of the ways the two smart girls keep busy is by conducting their own science and lab experiments. Sanity's latest lab creation, an adorable but very different kitten named Princess Sparkle, Destroyer of Worlds, unfortunately escapes along with the specialized protein diet Sanity synthesized. And just when the kitten goes missing, strange things start happening aboard Wilnick. Things like power and life-support systems breaking down. Sanity and Tallulah had better find their kitten, and fast, before the whole space station blows up.

Is it any good?

Author and illustrator Molly Brooks' debut graphic novel is a lively, engaging, and exciting adventure that will easily win over readers who might think they don't like science fiction. Sanity and Tallulah are great role models for intelligence, creative problem solving, teamwork, and loyalty. But they're also easily relatable as kids who get into trouble over their heads and who still need the patient, firm guidance offered by their parents.

Brooks' illustrations create a lot of fluid motion, engaging background details, and lively visual interest using only two colors. They keep the eyes moving across the page while the adventurous, suspenseful plot keeps the pages turning. Sanity & Tallulah is a great choice for reluctant readers, may spark interest in space travel, and it's also a perfect choice for young readers who're unsure about science fiction. Suitable for big kids and up who can handle a couple of "damns" and "hells."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the different types of characters in Sanity & Tallulah. Why is it important to have characters representing different kinds of people? What other books have you read with positive representations and role models?

  • What makes Sanity and Tallulah good role models? What do you like about them? What are their character flaws?

  • Do you like the illustrations? Do they help tell the story, or distract you from it? What are some of your favorite graphic novels?

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