Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Big Fat Little Lit

Big Fat Little Lit, edited by Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly (Puffin Books)

We have owned and enjoyed the three hardcover volumes of Little Lit for a while now, but at twenty bucks each, they can be a real budget buster. Now, there’s Big Fat Little Lit, a paperback anthology selected from all three volumes, bringing you 36 comics and games for the nice price of $14.99. It’s an amazing line-up of creators from both comics and children’s literature, including Neil Gaiman and Gahan Wilson, Ian Falconer (Olivia) and David Sedaris, J. Otto Seibold (Olive the Other Reindeer), Crockett Johnson (Harold and the Purple Crayon), William Joyce (A Day With Wilbur Robinson), Tony Millionaire (Sock Monkey), Walt Kelly, Kaz, Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are), Daniel Clowes (Eightball), David Macaulay (The Way Things Work), Lewis Trondheim (Mister O), Martin Handford (Where’s Waldo?), and of course, Art Spiegelman.

This is a refreshing collection of odd, imaginative, clever, and unconventional stories that are not just for kids. There’s an edge to many of them, and that’s what I like best – Little Lit proves that not all stories for children must have happy endings. Some of my favorites:

The Hungry Horse by Kaz– a circular tale wherein a bad guy gets what he deserves.

Maurice Sendak’s Cereal Baby Keller – which proves that even a beloved children’s author can be slightly twisted.

The Several Selves of Selby Sheldrake by Art Spiegelman – which begins with nose picking and turns into an inventive play on words.

Ian Falconer & David Sedaris’ Pretty Ugly – which gives new meaning to an old phrase.

Neil Gaiman & Gahan Wilson’s It Was A Dark And Silly Night… – which includes a Jell-O fight in a graveyard, and, really, what’s better than that?

Sarah says: I like Neil Gaiman’s story because it has good pictures and it’s a funny story about a boy having a party at a graveyard and all the monsters come alive. I like “The Hungry Horse” because the guy who’s a farmer turns into a horse and they sell him. I learned that you shouldn’t get something when you can’t take care of it. I also liked the “Prince Rooster” story by Art Spiegelman because it has good pictures and the story is very original.

Shelby says: I liked the story by Joost Swarte because the drawings are cool and this boy, his head came off and he had to go to the hospital and they put it back on. At the end he had his head on backwards. “The Baker’s Daughter” is good because some fairy person, dressed like a very poor person, asked for some food. The baker’s daughter only gave her a little piece, so she turned her into an owl. I learned even if someone’s poor and you’re rich, don’t treat them differently because they’re the same as you.

This definitely belongs in every library, with copies in the children’s section, the teen/young adult section, and the adult collection. If you want to show someone how diverse, entertaining, and engaging short-form comics can be, give them Big Fat Little Lit.


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