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.
Bee and PuppyCat #9
Kaboom! (Boom Studios)/$3.99
Created by Natasha Allegri.
Written by Patrick Seery.
Illustrated by Ji in Kim.
Cover by Rose Besch.
Bee and PuppyCat is based off Natasha Allegri’s animated web series of the same name. It follows unemployed 20-something year old Bee and her cute companion, PuppyCat, in their daily slice-of-life adventures.
In issue #9, Bee has lost her favorite scarf and PuppyCat does his best to distract her by taking them to Temp Bot to get an assignment. They end up getting work on the Windmill Planet cleaning up the lost and found, and then returning the items to their owners.
I like Bee and PuppyCat for this age group because the panels are big, colorful, and cartoonish. The dialogue is not too wordy or cumbersome for young readers, and the expressions and movements of the characters aid the story. It can also be good for kids who like to use their imagination and make up stories by looking at the artwork. The messages in this book, those of friendship and showing empathy and consideration towards others, are used in this book. I think it’s good to have those sorts of lessons in stories to help little ones learn to relate to others.
Over the Garden Wall #2
Kaboom! (Boom Studios)/$3.99
Created and written by Pat McHale.
Illustrated by Jim Campbell.
Over the Garden Wall was a five day miniseries that aired on Cartoon Network the first week of November in 2014, and I absolutely loved it! Each day I would run home from school–er, I mean, home from work to see the latest episode. It was beautiful and musical and whimsical.
The story focuses on two half-brothers, Wirt and Greg, as they try to find their way home in an old school fairy tale kind of way (monsters and magic galore!). In October of 2014 a standalone comic was released, and due to its popularity more issues were commissioned and began in August 2015. This issue is part of that, and the stories told throughout this four-part series are supposed to be woven in between episodes of the show.
The nice thing about this comic is it’s not an absolute prerequisite to have seen the show to appreciate it. You can get the gist of who they are, and understand the plot just fine without any sort of primer. We also meet new characters in each issue, like in issue #2 where the latest member of the gang, Fred the Horse, tells Wirt, Greg, and Beatrice his back story and how he came to meet them. Like each issue and the show, the story doesn’t end and we the reader just move along with the overall plot until the next episode (or in this case, the next book).
Another clever thing they have done is on the last page there is an original song and accompanying sheet music for the issue. Hopefully these will be recorded somewhere. (It makes me sad I abandoned the piano early on.)
Boom! Box (Boom Studios)/$3.99
Written and Illustrated by Tyson Hesse.
As issue #1 of a four-part mini-series by Tyson Hesse, Diesel begins to lay the groundwork on who the main players are and what kind of world they inhabit. The central figure is Dee Diesel, a young girl on the verge of her 18th birthday, and the action is set on the floating garage airship created by her deceased father, one that she will soon inherit.
Dee is brash, prideful, and a bit lazy. She has visions of her greatness without really having the desire to put in the work, because of her family name. She is a character that is relatable, because we all have been her at times or known someone like that. However, she is innately likeable and after reading the first issue, you get a sense that this will be very much an adventure of the “coming-of-age” sort.
The artwork is steampunk meets manga. The action is drawn in a way that moves seamlessly from panel to panel, and the dialogue flows well within that. I think this will be a great series for teens in this age group because of that pesky “figuring out who you want to be and where do you fit in” part about growing up. This is a book that will definitely resonate.
Mockingbird: S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary #1
Written by Chelsea Cain.
Art by Joëlle Jones.
Colors by Rachelle Rosenberg.
Mockingbird #1 is a one-shot story that will be entertaining to S.H.I.E.L.D./Mockingbird fans, but it also does a good job of providing an introduction to newer readers as to who Barbara “Bobbi” Morse is and what she is here to do (hint: be smart and kick butt!).
Cain does a fantastic job in showing the patterns Bobbi seems to fall into in her work and her personal life in a clever and engaging way, with slight self-jabs and humor. Jones’ artwork also conveys those feelings and brings them to life in each panel. I especially appreciated the cartoonish Black Widow mug Bobbi used as she was catching up on the day’s news, and little details like her nail color or the look of the Gucci pattern on a pair of loafers. You can tell the creative team had serious intent with the way they wanted this book put together. It kinda bums me out that there will be no other issues.
We then get a bonus mini story at the end of the book that introduces us to the Red Widow, in “Red Widow: First Strike”. Written by Margaret Stohl, drawn by Nico Leon, and colors by Andres Mossa, we see Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow, on an assignment — and then, quite separately, we find Ava Anatalya Orlova, who will become the Red Widow — each taking care of business in their own but very similar way. I think this was beautifully done in both its story and its visuals. I also recognize this was added to the book to help push the upcoming YA novel, Black Widow: Forever Red, which will be released Oct. 13th. I’m already sold.
The subject matter, as well as the dialogue, makes this book suitable for older teens.
(Where we discuss the classics that everyone should read.)
Jack and the Box
By Art Spiegelman.
TOONS Books, 2008
If the author of this book sounds familiar, he should. Yes, this is in fact the Art Spiegelman of Maus acclaim, among other notable works and projects. So a kid’s book, huh? Yup. And this one is a good introduction to the world of comics for toddlers and new readers, which is fitting: Spiegelman himself has said he learned to read through comics.
The book uses a limited vocabulary and brightly colored artwork to convey the story of Jack, a rabbit, who receives a Jack-in-the-box toy from his parents. The toy is very silly and a series of playful exchanges navigate the plot while Jack’s parents are away.
My two year-old niece was the one who introduced me to this book when I asked her to pick something for me to read to her. As an adult reading it as a part of story time, it’s easy to engage your little one with more questions about what is going on in the artwork. If you are having your little one read it to you, it will help strengthen their confidence with reading since they will know the basic sight words used.
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.