Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Fluffy, Fluffy Cinnamoroll
Cinnamoroll is a cloud puppy, born high above the earth. He's different from his brothers and sisters, and so when he learns to fly, he decides to move the surface to interact with other puppies like him. He moves into Cafe Cinnamon where the owner names him “Cinnamoroll” after his curly tail, which looks like a cinnamon roll. Cinnamoroll meets Mocha, Chiffon, Cappuccino, Milk, and Espresso and the group has lots of fun following treasure maps, going to amusement parks, and doing other magical things. Even dark cloud Cavity can't keep these pups down!
Cinnamoroll is essentially Hello Kitty's celestial canine variant. He's a cute, blobby puppy who comes from the sky to live on Earth with a group of other dogs around Cafe Cinnamon and he has a variety of magical adventures and everyday delights. Unlike some other titles in Viz's Vizkids line, Fluffy, Fluffy Cinnamoroll is pretty firmly for the elementary school set, although readers who enjoyed Yen Press' One Fine Day may also find some enjoyment here. In these two harmless and cute volumes, we meet our protagonists and their not-too-scary antagonist, learn about their world, and leave with an insane craving for cinnamon rolls. Older readers may be bored, but little kids should get some enjoyment out of these short tales.
We begin volume one by introducing the protagonist. The as-yet-unnamed Cinnamoroll is a cloud child. His brothers and sisters all look like ordinary clouds, but he has the shape of a puppy. He also has trouble flying, which causes him a fair amount of angst. Luckily his family is very supportive, even changing their shapes to look more like him. Eventually Cinnamoroll does learn to fly, and after accidentally falling down the chimney of Cafe Cinnamon on the the surface, he decides that he'd like to live there. His decision is influenced by the other puppies he meets there, each of whom have a distinct if cliched personality. Mocha is the “big sister,” Cappuccino sleeps and eats a lot, Chiffon is the tomboy, and Espresso is the rich and artistic one. There's also Milk, a baby, who speaks only by saying “baboo.” This is occasionally translated for readers, but regardless of whether or not we understand what he is saying, the other pups always seem to. Milk is perhaps the greatest mark of this series being for young children: all of the main characters are referred to as “pups,” so older readers are faced with the logical conundrum of Milk being a “baby puppy.” Fortunately most children in the target audience should be willing to take this at face value.
Like most Sanrio characters, Cinnamoroll and his cohorts are very simply drawn, and if we weren't informed frequently that they are dogs, there would be a great temptation to label them “rabbits.” Pups are told apart by the fact that each has his or her own defining physical characteristic: Mocha is darker, Chiffon has fluffy ears, Cappuccino has a white mouth, etc. For a simple story their personalities are fairly well defined and they do go beyond the basics at times; for example, Mocha has a secret garden that she likes to keep as her “alone place,” an attribute common to real life big sisters but not so much their children's book counterparts. Cavity, the dark cloud who serves as the primary antagonist, never fully explains why it is that he is after Cinnamoroll, another marker of the very young intended audience, and his methods are simple but scary enough for the early elementary reader. (For example, he at one point turns all of Cinnamoroll's friends against him, an experience that many young children will be able to relate to in some context or another.) The issues are always resolved within ten-odd pages, so there is reassurance provided that will seem a bit simple to an older reader, but soothing to the younger. Likewise small children should enjoy the anthropomorphic trees and flowers who play minor roles, as well as the easily copied by budding artists unicorns.
An interesting facet of Cinnamoroll's world is that although the pups are all clearly intelligent and human-like, they are all also “owned” by humans. Espresso's family provides him with a car and art supplies, while Milk's gives him a hanging cradle outdoors. We see no human faces until late in volume two, when the woman Cinnamoroll lives with is given a face. This suggests that the pups are meant to equate to children rather than pets, with the humans providing for them like a parent would for a child – Espresso's family has more money, so he has more (better?) toys. It works for the story, and also creates a world that animal loving children can dream of visiting (perhaps through Cafe Cinnamon's secret door, which features in two stories), as we clearly see human children and canine children going to the same places, even if they are not shown interacting.
All in all, Fluffy, Fluffy Cinnamoroll's first two volumes provide a nice transition from the picture book to the chapter book, or simply an alternative for the reluctant reader. There is little appeal for adults reading this on their own for the most part, but the sweet story, simple art, and bright colors where provided make this a good addition to an elementary school library or introduction to manga for a young child. Just be ready, parents – your child will be requesting cinnamon rolls as soon as they put the book down.
Overall : B
Story : B-
Art : B
+ Sweet and cute with some moments of “scary” tension for younger readers. Color pages are attractive and the characters go a little beyond the norm.
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