Have you ever taken a trip to the grocery store but ended up in the middle of the ocean? If so, you might relate to Poiko: Quests and Stuff‘s protagonist.
Poiko isn’t very good at his job. He’s a courier, and his tasks usually involve delivering items to places the post office wouldn’t dare tread. The talking, clothes-wearing lion namesake of Poiko: Quests and Stuff is easily distracted but also willing to answer anyone’s call for help, even if doing so delays a delivery. His best friend and business partner, Kensie, tries to keep him on track, but that’s a bit like walking up the down escalator.
Brian Middleton Jr. creates a whimsical story that’s almost dreamlike in its world-building. Poiko and Kensie travel through forests and caves, and even space! Every location is meticulously crafted and populated with cute creatures, so even though the settings are varied, they’re also cohesive.
Young readers (~4th-6th grade) will relate a lot to Poiko, and I think this is an especially good story to give to children struggling with ADHD. Although I wasn’t diagnosed until I was an adult, I vividly remember fourth grade as the first year that my inability to focus became a problem. I was unable to remember where I put any assignments, I wanted to talk all the time to the kid sitting next to me, and I was completely baffled when I saw other kids’ desks looking neat and orderly. I think it would have been nice to have a protagonist like Poiko, who is a positive representation of what ADHD can look like.
While Poiko lacks focus and punctuality, he more than makes up for it by being super helpful and willing to lend an ear to everyone he meets. Kensie and Poiko’s friendship works super well because Kensie is understanding but also willing to give gentle reminders to get Poiko back on track, and Poiko takes Kensie on exciting adventures. Showing Poiko as such a valuable part of a supportive community goes a long way to normalizing neurodiversity and showing what a healthy environment could look like for a kid with ADHD.
Overall, Poiko: Quests and Stuff will delight young readers and drop them into a world that’s magical and interesting while reflecting something incredibly human in the way the characters interact with their community. Find this new graphic novel in comic shops or bookstores next month!