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.
My Little Pony: Friends Forever #26
Written by Jeremy Whitley.
Art by Tony Fleecs; colors by Heather Breckel.
Prince Shining Armor has just been promoted to the role of diplomat by Princess Celestia, and his younger sister Twilight tries to squash his nervousness and doubts. He discovers he must go on a Yak-visiting mission with one Prince Blueblood (who has a… challenging personality), and learns how to be accepting of others’ ways, even if they conflict with his own. The main theme, “You can learn something from everyone”, is woven nicely throughout the issue.
Jeremy Whitley’s writing also focuses on lessons of obligation and duty, and how to work with others you may find challenging. I appreciate that the main characters in this issue were male: it’s important for all children to hear stories with good messages that feature characters of all genders. It also shows these stories are universally relatable, and that My Little Pony isn’t just for girls. Tony Fleecs and Heather Breckel do a lovely job with the artwork and coloring, pulling you into the plot visually. Even though this book may be difficult to read on one’s own for this age group, it makes a nice book for storytime.
Written by Shannon Watters and Kat Leyh.
Art by Carey Pietsch; colors by Maarta Laiho.
In issue #24 of the always fun and ever endearing Lumberjanes, our gals wrap up their adventure with Seafarin’ Karen and thus conclude the current story arc. As Ripley and Molly make their way back to the group, lightning begins to intensely strike and creates what Ripley labels an “atmosfeelic phenamahna” (really a portal left open due to a Selkie’s pelt). When they all work together to close it, the real magic of teamwork and friendship once again prove to be the cornerstone to solving any problem.
Shannon Watters and Kat Leyh do an excellent job of writing the various characters and their dealings with assorted supernatural excitement in this arc. The characters’ personalities are flushed out organically, and combined with Carey Pietsch’s art and Maarta Laiho’s coloring, it makes for even more of a well-rounded story. (One example of this is the expression April gave when she realizes they didn’t get the “Knot On Your Life” badge–don’t worry, friendly seal Moirin takes care of it.) Overall, the issue was a great way to end the arc, leaving us with (of course) a little last-panel hint of something supernatural to come.
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #5
Written by Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder.
Art by Natacha Bustos; colors by Tamra Bonvillain.
Being nine years old shouldn’t be that tough, right? School, parents, play dates…easy-peasy! Well, that is, if you aren’t Lunella Lafayette, aka Moon Girl. In previous issues we’ve established this pint-sized genius with the Inhuman gene isn’t going to let something like being grounded impact the work she is meant to do: which in this case is taking out Neanderthal thugs known as Killer Folk, who have been terrorizing the neighborhood. In issue #5 we find Devil Dinosaur locked away in the top secret wing of the Natural History Museum, and it’s up to Lunella to bust him out. (I mean he did save her life not once but twice, so it’s the least she can do.) As we end the first arc, we see Lunella fully accepting her role as Moon Girl, and that maybe Devil Dinosaur could be a worthwhile companion. Like she says, “Two heads are better than one, after all.”
Writers Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder show the development of Lunella in her focused, determined, and questioning behavior. She tries to balance appearing as normal as possible to those around her while also harnessing her potential as Moon Girl, contrasting with the playful and sweet nature of Devil Dinosaur, hopefully melding them into a solid team. The artistic team of Natacha Bustos and Tamra Bonvillain continue with realistic and detailed drawings, enhanced with vivid coloring. I love studying at each panel and every little nuance, as well as becoming enamored by the full page centerfold-like spread of Lunella transforming into Moon Girl: breathtaking. This is definitely one of my favorite series on the shelves these days. Relatable yet imaginative, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur is a comic that kids, teens, and adults will all genuinely love.
Written by Chip Zdarsky.
Art by Erica Henderson.
The plot continues to thicken at ‘ol Riverdale High in issue #5 of Jughead as the crew is realizing they will be getting no help from those trusted adults in their lives. Why won’t anyone believe that Principal Stanger is not all that he claims, and is slowly turning the campus into a military training facility? After some insight from older student Wade, who lets them know Stanger has principalled at many other schools and similarly destroyed them, Jughead and company take matters into their own hands. They visit the town of Sunnyside to chat with their teens at the mall about their former principal and find their Sunnyside doppelgangers. However, they get the real info they need from an older student who felt Stanger’s wrath.
Chip Zdarsky brings his trademark humor and wit to a topic that many teens and adults are eventually forced to navigate—taking down “the man” and the frustrations that come along with it. We also get a nice little Jughead dream sequence where he and his friends don superhero gear to become the Super Teens, defeating bizarro versions of themselves. When he comes to, he realizes his fear of Pop’s closing is a reality. Erica Henderson continues with her angular, clever art, giving us a lovely modernization of the characters. She also excels at facial expressions, needing little more than pupil placement and eye shape to perfect a mannerism. I also love the little details she provides each character from expert fashion choices (notice Crownz’s barrette, anyone?) to the way tears formed in Jughead’s eye. We end this issue with Jughead throwing in the towel, but say it ain’t so! He won’t give up just yet, right?
(Where we discuss the classics that everyone should read.)
Houghton Mifflin, 2006
By Alison Bechdel.
A graphic memoir that has raised plenty of eyebrows and has gotten banned by school boards and parent groups alike, Alison Bechdel’s (yes, of “Bechdel test” fame) Fun Home is aptly subtitled “A Family Tragicomic” with good reason. Heavy themes of self-identity and discovery, family dynamics, and death (the title comes from the nickname of the funeral home in which they lived) are just the tip of the iceberg in this 240-page graphic novel. Although, this is a bit much for the younger set (I suggest 16+ for this one), it certainly allows an opportunity for reflection.
At the time of its release in 2006, Fun Home was praised and awarded by critics and industry organizations, and won an Eisner Award for “Best Reality-Based Work”. Ten years later, its themes are still eminently relevant and relatable today. Bechdel opens up her life through her memories and art (photos of herself were used as reference, for accuracy of poses), and through her honesty much of this book feels like being a fly on the wall of her rural Pennsylvania childhood home. Due to the popularity of the Tony Award-winning Fun Home musical adaptation, the book has regained attention in recent years. However, in my opinion, it’s always a good time to fully explore this modern-day classic.
That’s it for this week! Has Books For Babes help you out at all? We want to know! Feel free to send feedback our way in the comments section below.