Charlie’s Gnarly Party written by David Hoffman and illustrated by Cody Hagman is, at first glance, a children’s book. On its sparkling silver cover the book reads: For kids aged 1-4 and 18+.
It seems odd that ages 5-17 would be left out of consideration. Until you flip to the first page. Pixie dust spilled over a mirror with empty straws and credit cards off to the side, spells out the title: Charlie’s Gnarly Party.
This colorful and creative story of a man celebrating his birthday is beautifully illustrated with fantastical drawings of all Charlie’s friends. There is Molly, a girl with orange pigtails wearing leg warmers and a bright purple skirt. There is also Crystal, the janky-looking, worse-for-wear, friend who stands beside a beat-up car wondering how to fix what’s been broken. There are rocks to be avoided and brownies that leave friends baked. Throughout the entire crazy adventure, Charlie and his friends seem to come out okay.
After finishing the book, it becomes clear why the ages are specific. For very young children, the illustrations are gorgeous and mind-boggling. Loaded with neon color and characters that are rarely depicted anywhere else, the book is mesmerizing. For college-aged adults, the book is a roller coaster of good times filled with dangerous possibilities.
The humor is undeniable in both the writing and the illustrations. Charlie’s Gnarly Party is an excellent addition for any coffee table.
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Published by Rebecca Lee