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


Strawberry Shortcake #1
Written by Georgia Ball.
Art by Amy Mebberson; colors by Fernando Peniche.

As a child of the 80s, certain characters still evoke happiness and memories for days. For me, Strawberry Shortcake is one such character. In recent years, nostalgia for our favorite characters allows for their return, and for us to introduce them to the little ones in our lives. The creative team behind IDW’s new Strawberry Shortcake series are also fans from childhood, and their back-matter photos (with some of their original toys) prove it, and it’s reassuring to know this series comes from a place of love. In the first installment of a two-issue arc–and for younger readers I appreciate smaller arcs–we’re introduced to Strawberry and her friends (Lemon Meringue, Blueberry Muffin, Orange Blossom, and Plum Pudding) and her foe, the Purple Pie Man.

Georgia Ball’s writing and Amy Mebberson’s art combined with Fernando Peniche’s coloring create a comic perfect for this age group. It’s visually appealing and colorful, and the story can be easily deciphered from just the panels. This age group might find the writing slightly difficult to read alone, but with some help they may be able to do it. The story’s themes – of helping others, doing what’s right, and playing fair – are always great for children as they form friendships and learn to interact with others.

Ages 8-11


Plants vs. Zombies #10
Dark Horse Comics!/$2.99
Written by Paul Tobin.
Art by Jacob Chabot; colors by Matt J. Rainwater.

The foundation is laid in part 1 (of 3) of the Boom Boom Mushroom story arc of Plants vs. Zombies #10, and oh boy, does Zomboss have big plans to take down Neighborville. This time his idea is to destroy them from underneath with an underground zombie army. Of course, clever Patrice and Nate figure it out pretty quick after discovering the underground lair. Uncle Dave has an idea on who can help them: the Boom Boom Mushroom. But first they have to find it, and what better way to find a mushroom than with a pig (or in this case, a truffle-snuffle pig-dog named Twister that Uncle Dave won in a bard contest in Guatemala–classic Uncle Dave!). Patrice, Nate, and Twister start exploring cave tunnels, and the action begins when they encounter a blocked-off path that may lead to an underground society of irritable gargantuars…and by may, I mean it definitely does. But that will have to wait until next month.

Writer Paul Tobin does an excellent job combining the serious with the silly in this issue. When Zomboss lists the things he doesn’t really like to his zombie minions, it starts out normal enough (pesky children, allergies) escalating to the worst of all: Chihuahuas. Tobin also writes the back-and-forth banter between Patrice and Nate as rational vs. idealistic, with wit and speed. Jacob Chabot’s art is drawn with great detail and care: from pockets on cargo shorts to electrical cords to a zombie’s chore list, the little details in each frame fully round out the story. Matt J. Rainwater’s coloring helps bring that artwork to life, and he does a lovely job of utilizing light in different locations (above ground, underground, in flashbacks). A great start to this new arc. This should be a fun one.

Ages 12-15


Joyride #1
Boom! Studios/$3.99
Written by Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly.
Art by Marcus To; colors by Irma Kniivila.

Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly give readers a glimpse of our possible future in the first issue of Joyride, and it isn’t as dark-dystopian as some other books would have us believe. I’m not saying this future is all roses and kittens though – in fact it does kind of suck. Earth is under the control the World Government Alliance, who has blocked out the stars and assigned roles to all its people. Everything is fine as long as you stay in line—which of course the protagonist of the story, Uma, simply won’t do. With the help of her friend Dewydd they escape the confines of Earth by putting their trust in some creepy aliens and then stealing their ship. But it can’t that easily, especially when government drone Private First Class—I mean, Catrin—ends up in the mix.

Lanzing and Kelly take the familiar story of teenage rebellion in a fascist-controlled world and give us a lead character full of spunk and hope. From the moment you see Uma in her contraband sneakers, you know she is going to break free and won’t be discreet about it. Each of the characters has their own distinct voice that comes through strongly in the writing. The main players are teens, and their humor and colloquialisms read naturally and aren’t overused. Marcus To and Irma Kniivila’s talents combine to make beautiful and colorful artwork. And this may be a crappy future, but the clothing – even the uniforms – are colorful and full of personality, thanks to visual research from Dani V. I also love the characters’ expressiveness: you can sense Uma’s wistfulness as she looks at the sky; you can feel Dewydd’s concern as they spot the spaceship; and you know Catrin’s annoyance in being caught up in this escape. Overall, a great first issue for any sci-fi fan, or any teen that longs for adventure.

Ages 16+


Jem and the Holograms #14
Written by Kelly Thompson.
Art by Sophie Campbell; colors by M. Victoria Robado.
Letters by Shawn Lee.

In issue #14 of Jem and the Holograms, the ladies have a tough decision to make: disconnect Synergy and end her reign of terror (losing Jem in the process), or leave things as is and allow the harmful Silica to continue zombiefying people? What will they do? Read my full review here.

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


Prime Baby
First Second Books, 2010
By Gene Luen Yang.

First serialized in the New York Times Magazine, Prime Baby is a story of sibling rivalry, aliens, and math. Third-grader Thaddeus is less than pleased to be the big brother to baby Maddie (who he claims is “dumb in the head” because the only sound she makes is “ga”). As you can imagine, his parents are less than pleased to have Thaddeus be so mean, and he spends plenty of time outs in the “naughty chair”, left with his thoughts. One day at school he realizes Maddie’s ga-ga-ga noises are coming out in prime numbers, and believes she is an alien, and begins a quest to prove it so she will be taken by the government. However Maddie isn’t an alien but rather a portal for aliens to come to Earth…and they do.

Gene Luen Yang uses the idea of sibling rivalry and runs with it in a humorous direction, adding kind-hearted, considerate aliens into the mix. In contrast, he writes Thaddeus as a very unsympathetic character. Through his interactions with the aliens he starts to become self-aware, and at the end starts to redeem himself. The artwork is done in 3-4 panel comic strip style, with soft orange, green, and pink hues to soften up the drawings. Prime Baby is relatable for any older sibling ever annoyed by the attention garnered by a new and younger model arriving in their home. A great book for ages 10 and up.

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.