Monday, April 2, 2007

Welcome to the All Ages Reads archive

I've had several requests for an archive where folks can access our past reviews, so here you go! I'll start with our first column at Newsarama, in which I define "all-ages" as we will be using it. Enjoy!

I love comics and I’m a mom. My daughters, Shelby, age 10, and Sarah, age 7, like comics, too. Unfortunately when we go into the comic shop I find myself saying, “That’s not okay for you to read,” entirely too many times. They pick up a copy of Barry Ween and it looks like a kids’ book, but hiding inside is the most foul-mouthed little #*%$er in comics. If you’re an adult, reading Barry Ween causes tears-running-down-your-face laughter, but if you’re a kid it causes an increase in vocabulary that can lead to detention, suspension, and a mouthful of Irish Spring. The sad fact is, most of the comics on the market right now are not for kids, so I spend an inordinate amount of time searching for “all-ages” material.

So now for the big question: What exactly does “all ages” mean? For my purposes, it’s anything my kids can read that doesn’t give them nightmares or cause them to ask questions that I won’t be ready to answer until they are much, much older. It really comes down to The Big Three:

Language: Anything they can repeat in the classroom without getting a note sent home is fine, and the occasional “crap” might slip through, but George Carlin’s seven words do not appear in all ages books. As for kids’ favorite words, like fart, poop, and barf – well, there would be a lot less laughter in the world without those.

Violence: If there is violence, it is of the slapstick or plastic light saber variety and does not involve gushing entrails. Superhero “biff-bam-pow” is okay, but shooting someone in the face and watching brains splatter on the wall is not.

Sex: No one has sex, discusses sex, or makes jokes about sex. As far as my kids know, “sex” is whether you are a boy or a girl. Flirting and kissing are fine unless there are large quantities of saliva involved. In all ages books, the female characters’ breasts should generally be no larger than their heads.

Now for the good news – we’ve searched high, low, and everywhere in between and found some wonderful comics for kids. If you are looking for books you can read with or give to your kids, nieces and nephews, grandkids, students, or snot-nosed little comic shop customers, read on.


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