Graphic Novel Review: Chef Yasmina and the Potato Panic by Wauter Mannaert

Chef Yasmina and the Potato Panic by Wauter Mannaert. First Second, 2019. 9781250622044. 160pp. including a bit at the end on the origin of french fries and this graphic novel plus some pages showing Mannaert’s character design progress and thumbnails.

Yasmina loves cooking for her father, Omran, in their tiny apartment. They’re poor so she gets great ingredients from foraging, from her friends Cyril and Marco (who both have fabulous vegetable patches but different philosophies on growing them), and from her neighbor’s rooftop garden, which she sometimes sneaks into.

One day a villain, Tom de Perre, plows under Cyril and Marco’s gardens on behalf of a large company with a spooky logo. They’re going to grow potatoes the 21st Century way, and they’re going to be irresistible. (This has something to do with the weird experiment at the front of the book, which produces a flying potato, and with the garden atop the building where Yasmina lives.)

Soon everyone is eating the company’s potatoes, as chips and as fries at the restaurant where Yasmina’s dad works. And they are irresistible — in fact they drive everyone who eat them crazy, and all they want is to eat more more more!

The whole thing is charming and cartoony, and the pages are all drawn without panel borders, so it looks as organic as Marco’s veggies. This is a very entertaining, completely over-the-top story about genetically modified food that might serve as a good conversation starter.


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