Books for Babes provides info on the sort of comics that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. This week we recommend ‘Hex Vet: Witches in Training’ OGN SC, out December 12 from KaBOOM!, an imprint of BOOM! Studios.
by Stefania Rudd. If you ask my five-year-old niece what she wants to be when she grows up she will enthusiastically say, “A fox helper!” And while I have yet to run into that particular profession in my adult life, I do know several people who have the cool job of working with animals in careers that range from veterinary medicine to wildlife refuges. And all of them have held an interest and care for animals from an early age — just like my niece. Hex Vet: Witches in Training is a wonderful original graphic novel from BOOM! Studios’ KaBOOM! imprint that will certainly delight these animal lovers, and one that brings a fun and engaging twist to animal care to boot: magic.
The Willows Whisper Veterinary Practice looks after mythical creatures with heightened magical abilities. Their staff is small, but mighty: Dr. Cornelia Talon, nurse Ariel Chantsworth, and trainees Clarion Wellspring and Annette Artifice take care of creatures that need their help to heal, survive, and thrive. Hex Vets focuses mainly on Clarion and Annette (who goes by Nan), two vets-in-training who could not be more opposite from each other. Positive, quick-thinking Clarion does her best to work alongside studious and cautious Nan, but when things get a bit hairy at the office they ultimately have to set aside their differences, trust one another, and work together. This character drama is just a part of what makes Hex Vets so special.
Hex Vets‘ world of magic is grounded somewhat by its practical application of veterinary medicine, which gives writer and illustrator Sam Davies (Stutterhug) a remarkable amount of freedom to explore the creative directions this tale could take. It’s a workplace story at its core, something that should be relatable for anyone who has ever had to navigate coworker dynamics and office politics, but its appeal isn’t limited by this. Davies has conjured an engaging world for children who are fascinated by animals, and takes care to ensure the story’s dialogue strikes a balance of easy and challenging words for younger readers. And for these readers, Hex Vets may encourage pauses to ask after the meaning behind veterinarian terms and practices, but that opens up many possibilities to learn something new! (Short sentences and Mike Fiorentino’s clear lettering also help with comprehension.)
Davies’ style is old school anime mixed with a contemporary cartoon flair. Her panels are large and filled with sharp and detailed images, but it never once seems overcrowded. The story is made clear thanks to Davies’ work as it moves from panel to panel, page to page, and the dialogue certainly enhances the overall experience. Davies chooses soft color, mainly focusing on teals and purples, which makes the pages absolutely pop. There is also diversity in these characters; although it isn’t exactly obvious how these characters would identify, there are distinctions made here that will help those who pick up this book see themselves properly reflected.
Hex Vet: Witches in Training checks off a lot of boxes I look for when it comes to an all-ages book. It’s amusing and accessible to children, and has an appeal to grown folks looking for lighter-hearted reading material. It also has lessons of patience, understanding, trust, and friendship. It’s a great graphic novel in its own right, though I’m holding out hope for a longer series; there’s a certain charm that comes with reading about these vets (and vets-to-be) doing the work they love, healing one magical creature at a time while becoming the best at their craft as they can possibly be.
KaBOOM!, an imprint of BOOM! Studios/$8.99
Written and illustrated by Sam Davies.
Lettered by Mike Fiorentino.
Designed by Kara Leopard.
Edited by Whitney Leopard.
This book contains hurtful mocking, negative self-talk, and veterinarian terms.
Age range: 5 and up
‘Hex Vet: Witches in Training’ OGN SC hits stores December 12.