Thaddeus K. Fong is not a nice kid. He didn’t invite anybody to his birthday party so he could eat all the cake himself (and only invited his grandma because she’s diabetic). He has dreams of world domination. But what really gets him riled is his baby sister, who is already 18 months old and doesn’t say anything but “ga.”
But when he learns about prime numbers in school, he realizes that his sister’s “ga”s come in prime number sequence, and he concludes that she is, in fact, an alien. Of course this doesn’t really convince his parents, so he has to take matters into his own hands.
That’s the premise of Prime Baby, a funny little comic by Gene Luen Yang (whose American Born Chinese is a great riff on old Chinese folktales and modern Chinese-American stereotypes). It was originally a comic strip series that ran in the New York Times Magazine and has now been collected into book form. I won’t spoil what happens next, except to say that it’s pretty amusing and I didn’t see it coming.
Yang’s drawing style is clean, simple but expressive, and owes a little to (but clearly isn’t) manga. The sense of humor is a little off-kilter, just the way I like it. The book is mostly okay for kids, although Thaddeus does tend to use harsher insults than, say, Calvin, so you might want to preview it first. You can actually read the entire run online (though it’s a series of PDFs which is kind of annoying), but the slim little book sells for only $6.99 so it won’t put a huge dent in your wallet, either. I enjoyed it, but personally I think American Born Chinese is a better book and I’d recommend that one over this.
Prime Baby is published by First Second Books, and is available from Amazon.
Wired: Some math geekiness and a quirky alien story, told by a somewhat delusional eight-year-old.
Tired: Buying the book isn’t really necessary since you can read the whole thing online.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book for review purposes.