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


Over the Garden Wall #3
Written by Pat McHale.
Art by Jim Campbell.

As we near the end of this four-issue run, writer Pat McHale and artist Jim Campbell progress the story-within-the-story that was the Cartoon Network miniseries of the same name. Issue 3 takes place between episodes five and six of the show, and give insight to the odd and endearing world Wirt and Greg are passing through with their bird-guide frenemy, Beatrice. The book continues to be a solid read without becoming too alienating for those readers who aren’t yet viewers. In this issue, the boys hear music coming from the woods and discover a gathering of dancing animals around a pear tree. Beatrice begins to feel guilty about her intentions and wants to confess, but fears her chance has passed when, after eating the pears, Wirt and Greg seemingly transform into a bear and a duck!

 McHale’s writing and Campbell’s artwork give the story a timeless fairy tale feel, perfect for this age group, as well as for older kids (and adults who like good storytelling). Although some of the words and the length of dialogue may be tough for the younger end of these readers, this is a great selection for storytime, or for children to admire the big, colorful panels on their own. It will be interesting to see how they wrap the story up in the last issue, and hopefully they’ll find ways to create new arcs for this comic to continue.

Ages 8-11


SpongeBob Comics #50
United Plankton Pictures/$2.99
Written by Derek Drymon and various.
Art by Gregg Schigiel and various.

What better way to celebrate a 50th issue than with a “Maritime Mashup” of stories of our favorite eclectic residents of Bikini Bottom? The lead story, written by Derek Drymon and illustrated by Gregg Schigiel, kicks off the book nicely with a story of friendship so appreciative that SpongeBob and company absorb themselves to form a giant hybrid creature. Well-known grump Squidward is forced into the group, his negativity ruins the lovefest, but SpongeBob always finds a way to get under Squidward’s skin—sometimes literally.

The next three stories are written and illustrated by other folks, who show off their talents while still remaining consistent with the characters and the stories they would be a part of. The final story focuses on the 50th issue milestone and celebrates it in a cute but still silly way that gives a nod to all those who have worked on the series thus far. Fans of the TV show—both kids and adults—will find this book to be amusing. For those in this age group, they will be able to read it fairly easily, and can break up the reading time since all the stories are individual and self-contained.           

Ages 12-15


Bob’s Burgers #5
Written by Loren Bouchard, Rachel Hastings, Jeff Drake, and Ben Dickerson.
Art by Tom Connor, Frank Forte, Kat Kosmala, Hector Reynoso, and Kimball Shirley.

Bob’s Burgers is one of the funniest animated shows on television, and so lends itself easily to comic book form. Fans of the show will appreciate characters developed further in their varying stories. In issue #5, we get the second and concluding installment of Tina’s Erotic Friend Fiction take on Casablanca in ‘Tinablanca’, while Louise and Gene start new stories surrounding pest control problems and diving down the deep blue sea through song (yup, that’s Gene). Between the stories we get two different art pieces featuring Bob dreaming of a souped-up food truck and a family photo about to go awry.

Like many shows translated to comic books, this is more of an anthology of stories surrounding the familiar characters, so we get many writers and artists. Show creator Lauren Bouchard has a hand in the comic, ensuring the integrity of the show isn’t compromised, and I feel it helps enhance the stories in the books. Even though it is a book based on a cartoon, many of the jokes can be lost on younger readers, even if they do watch the show. This book is recommended by its publisher for “Teen+,” and because of its popularity has a hard time staying on the shelves. Overall, a pleasant and enjoyable read.  

Ages 16+


Jem and the Holograms #9
Written by Kelly Thompson.
Art by Emma Vieceli; colors: M. Victoria Robado.

In issue #9, we end the Viral! story arc with two key couples making up (and making out), and other action setting the stage so to speak for the next issue of this truly, truly outrageous series.  Jem and the gang decide to celebrate the release their new video with a Halloween house party, and of course The Misfits are all about ruining it with the help of the villainous hacker, Techrat. However, nothing goes according to plan.

 Writer Kelly Thompson keeps the story moving at a quick pace with her lighthearted and realistic dialogue, although the cockney accent stuff throws me off a bit at times. I do love the interactions between the characters: whether joking with one another or sharing in more emotionally driven moments (like when Jerrica and Rio make up). I absolutely gushed over Emma Vieceli’s artwork and the beautiful coloring of M. Victoria Robado. Since this was a Halloween party, the characters’ personalities came through adorably in their costume choices.  The winner for me hands down, or rather fins down, was Kimber as Katy Perry’s Super Bowl halftime show star, Left Shark. The center page recap, showing where the characters were both emotionally and location-wise within a diagram of the room was clever. I do recommend this entertaining series for older teens, since there is always a lot to take on plot-wise.

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


Take What You Can Carry
Square Fish Books, 2012
Writer and artist: Kevin C. Pyle.

Most people escape into the world of comics and graphic novels as a fun distraction to the doldrums of everyday life. They can also offer insight to the worlds of others who are not like you, however, and function as an educational tool. In Kevin C. Pyle’s historical graphic novel, Take What You Can Carry, he links the lives of two teen boys—one in a 1942 Japanese internment camp in California (Ken) and the other in a 1978 Chicago suburb (Kyle)—and shows how even though time and history seem to separate them, they are similar.

Pyle does a beautiful job of alternating between their stories through the art, specifically with his coloring. The 1942 sections are steeped in browns and sepias – with no dialogue – and the 1978 sections are colored in blue, and not silent. Ken’s life is one of fear and hope for survival, while making the best of an unfair situation through stealing supplies and food. Kyle’s life is that of a bored suburban teen, who steals from the local corner store for kicks and his friends’ approval. Their worlds intertwine when we discover that Ken, decades later, is the owner of the store Kyle steals from. The journey they take together has themes of survival, repentance, and redemption. This is a fantastic book for those twelve and up, especially if they have an interest in U.S. history that goes beyond their textbook, or want to learn about an incredibly topical subject that may have been glossed over in class—I know my 10th grade U.S. history book spoke very little of Japanese internment camps. (Public school, amirite?)

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.