By Stefania Rudd. Do you have little ones in your life who are drawn to the world of comics through movies, cartoons, and video games, but you’re not sure what to start them with, or even know what’s appropriate?

We got you! Books For Babes aims to provide info on what books kids will enjoy, but can also be entertaining for adults. One can never start too early — or too late — in building a solid comic book foundation.

Ages 4-7

b4b 2015.02.10 peanuts

Peanuts #30
Kaboom!/$3.99
Story by Charles M. Schulz; adapted by Jason Cooper.
Art by Vicki Scott and Scott Jeralds.

Peanuts, the iconic cartoon strip created by the late Charles M. Schulz, has become a childhood prerequisite for generations upon generations. Nowadays, in addition to major motion pictures, his legacy continues in comic book form, with various writers and artists contributing their additions to his stories. It may be difficult to carry on the past work of such a beloved and distinct creator, but the folks over at Kaboom really get it right.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, issue 30 gives us two stories leaning towards love. In the first, “Sewer or Later You’ll Love Me,“ Lucy battles it out for Schroeder’s attention with his beloved piano, and in “Love & Marcie”, our bespectacled friend Marcie asks Charlie Brown a very important question. The stories are short and easy to read, and are made up of large, clearly drawn panels easily understandable for this age group. (Not to mention, it’s also an enjoyably nostalgic read for us adults.) Oh, and if your kids happen to give any insightful ideas how Marcie should have reacted to Charlie Brown’s answer, please contact me over at the DoomRocket site. Cause love can be difficult, amirite?            

Ages 8-11

b4b 2015.02.10 Plants vs. Zombies #8

Plants vs. Zombies #8
Dark Horse Comics/$2.99
Written by Paul Tobin.
Art by Ron Chan.

This is the second issue of the three-part “Petal to the Metal” story arc, and writer Paul Tobin and artist Ron Chan continue Dr. Zomboss’ (and his zombie-minions’) attempt to bring down Neighborville, creating a Mad Max: Fury Road-esque race back to town against our human and plant heroes. In this issue, Crazy Dave has left Patrice and Nate in the Ice Cream Racer, with a little help in the form of a crash test dummy driver named… Otto Pilot. But of course, things don’t go according to plan, and our fearless gang give a major setback to the zombies they’re racing. (We’ll get the conclusion on who wins the race back to Neighborville in the next issue, but my bet’s on the humans and our green, leafy friends.)

Tobin’s writing keeps the audience in mind with short sentences and easy-ish words. The dialogue can get lengthy at points, but serves a purpose, like Nate’s ramblings about his dreams. Usually panels of Chan’s great artwork follows, containing little dialogue but plenty of movement and sound effects. Plants vs. Zombies does a really wonderful job of taking the silly and absurd and creating really fun stories with them, and keeping the characters in manageably-sized arcs for younger readers’ attention spans. This is one series that should be on your child’s radar.     

Ages 12-15

b4b 2015.02.10 moon girl 3

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #3
Marvel/$3.99
Written by Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder.
Art by Natacha Bustos and colors by Tamra Bonvillain.

I love Lunella Lafayette. She is a relatable every-girl that many kids (and adults) of both genders can easily see themselves in. Although she has specialness to her (she carries the Inhuman gene that she desperately wants to be rid of), she’s just trying to find her place in a world where she feels like the odd girl out. Then, a T-Rex named Devil Dinosaur jumps into the mix. Will she ever catch a break? In the third issue of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Lunella and Devil Dinosaur fight off angry cavemen (known as Killer Folk) in the hopes of securing the Omni Wave Projector to make her “normal,” but sadly it doesn’t work. Later, Devil Dinosaur saves the day at Lunella’s school and an unwanted guest immediately arrives to take him away…cough—Hulk—cough.

Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder write this comic wonderfully, and make it one I look forward to each month, thanks to their snappy dialogue and storytelling. The characters’ interactions with each other feel natural, like those I’ve had before with family and friends. I also enjoy the quotes from various scientists at the beginning of each issue, giving you an idea of the theme: this time it’s the words of Neil deGrasse Tyson. Natacha Bustos’ expressive faces are beautiful, and her overall visuals through the panels are dynamic and engaging. When Lunella gets a concerned scolding from her parents, I can feel the sadness and frustration through her eyes. I just wanted to hug her! Tamra Bonvillain’s coloring is vivid, bold, and makes even the smallest details shine. Overall, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur is a great book (and series) that will easily become a favorite, and one that the family can take turns reading when they get it home.

Ages 16+

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Jem and the Holograms #11
IDW/$3.99
Written by Kelly Thompson.
Art by Sophie Campbell and colors by M. Victoria Robado.

In issue 11 of Jem and the Holograms, we begin a new story arc – Dark Jem – and the creative team of Kelly Thompson, Sophie Campbell (returning from her hiatus!), and M. Victoria Robado start this story off with some strong themes of self-discovery, identity, and loyalty. Read my full review here.

Throwback Issues
(Where we discuss the classics that everyone should read.)

b4b 2015.02.10 06 Mangaman

Mangaman
HMH Books for Young Readers, 2011
Written by Barry Lyga.
Art by Colleen Doran.

I love reading books, mostly because of their inherent escapism. How many times have you picked up a book and become the character, living through the plot? And how many times have you thought, “I wish this person existed in real life. We’d totally be friends!” That’s exactly what happens in the teen graphic novel Mangaman by Barry Lyga and Colleen Doran. When an unknown rip in time sends Ryoko, a manga character, into our modern-day western world, a fun and unique fish-out-of-water story begins, complete with romance, action, humor, and ultimately compassion.

The plot of the story itself is a good introduction to manga and its tropes, and Lyga’s writing does a great job assimilating it all into the narrative. He even provides a glossary in the back of the book to help make sense of it all. This book is unique in that it combines traditional western comic art with that of manga, and Doran does a fantastic job of seamlessly intertwining them. Mangaman comes highly recommended to anyone (teen or older) who may want to dip a toe into the manga pool to see if it could be their thing.

That’s it for this week! Did Books For Babes help you out at all? We want to know! Feel free to send feedback our way in the comments section below.

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