Peng and Spanners: Who Stole the Pizzas?
Introducing Peng, a sarcastic and easily bored penguin, and Spanners, a clever cat with a toolbelt, a not-so-secret HQ, and a talent for invention. This graphic novel is filled with jokes and playfulness beginning with the front cover where a sticker declares ‘free pizza inside’. The characters argue about how messy that would be before Spanners points out the much smaller word ‘drawings’, meaning (sadly) no real pizza is on offer.
The narrative focuses on the disappearance of the school pizza parlour during a competition for the best school food in the area. The villain is another headteacher who has stolen the parlour using a giant robot he has designed to try and ensure he wins the competition. The robot, regularly called ‘botty’, must, however, be constantly convinced to not aim for world domination. Peng and Spanners want to help the headmaster find his parlour before the school inspectors arrive to shut him down, so they adopt superhero identities and use Spanner’s inventions to find it. This means there are constant jokes about various superhero names and powers.
The text contains a great number of puns and wordplay is central. For example, boarding school is called ‘boring school’, something Peng wants to avoid. It is also very knowing, in that the characters are aware they are in a book, defacing the author biography, addressing the reader directly, creating false endings for their story and adding some drawing exercises at the very end.
This funny, silly, fast-moving and intertextual graphic novel.