Sunday, July 27, 2008


We had a wonderful time at Comic-Con. We chatted with many of our favorite creators and the girls got lots of sketches. We even got to meet some of our readers, which was awesome! Too bad we had to leave on Friday afternoon -- we really wanted to stick around for Kids' Day on Sunday.
Art Baltazar and Franco of Tiny Titans and Patrick the Wolfboy. Awww yeah!

Andy Runton does awesome sketches.

Shelby got Owly as Anung Un Rama (the real Hellboy) and

Sarah got Owly and Wormy as luchadores.

Jill Thompson was so gracious and lovely.

You must all go out and buy a copy of Magic Trixie - it's awesome!

Scott Sava of Blue Dream Studios (Dreamland Chronicles, Pet Robots) has a new publishing deal with IDW and lots of Hollywood stuff in the works.

Here he is with his lovely wife, Donna, and his twin Power Rangers.

More news and tidbits from the Con to come -- after we recover!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Coraline Puppets

I couldn't resist posting these photos from Comic-Con. These are puppets from the upcoming Coraline movie. The girls and I all enjoyed the novel (by Neil Gaiman), but I have to say that I found the graphic novel (illustrations by P. Craig Russell) really, really creepy. I have one question: Who the heck is Wybie?


The Other Mother



Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Kids Are People, Too

This review, and the ensuing posts, debating what kids want in their comics, got me thinking about how adults review comics for kids.

Why do adults refer to “kids” as if they’re a vast monotype? Kids are as different from each other as adults are. There are 8-year-olds who like superheroes and 8-year-olds who like anime; 8-year-olds who are frightened by violence and 8-year-olds who love violence; 8-year-olds who enjoy a complex plot line and rich characters and 8-year-olds who love fart jokes.

The kid who loves Goosebumps and Tales from the Crypt is different from the kid who likes Dragonball Z and Naruto. Just because a kid likes Marvel Adventures, that doesn’t guarantee that he or she will like every superhero comic. Some kids don’t want to be “talked down to,” but others couldn't care less.

Predicting what a particular kid will or won’t like is difficult at best. Take my girls for example; sometimes they like what I think they will like, and sometimes they think I’m nuts. I loved Tellos and thought they would, too, but it just got a “meh” rating. And they don’t always agree – Sarah is one of the Archie faithful, but Shelby finds Riverdale boring. I see a huge variety of reading interests and tastes in the classroom. I brought in a stack of Teen Titans Go!, thinking my students would eat them up, but nobody touched them. One kid fell in love with The Dreamland Chronicles, another with The Incredibles, and another with Bone. And as for kids not wanting to read “baby stuff,” I had a fourth grade student who absolutely loved Jack and the Box, which seems to me to be intended for preschoolers.

So how can I, as an adult, review comics for kids? I don’t think that’s my role. I don’t think that my job as a reviewer is to predict what kids will or won’t like. I give my personal opinion about a book, aimed at other adults, and provide factual information about the contents of the book. The girls review for kids; I review for parents, teachers, and librarians.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Reader Survey

I know there are a few of you out there who read our reviews regularly. Thank you!!! For those of you who don't know, all our work has been unpaid for lo these many years. I'm considering building a site on which we can host a few ads, just so we can afford to buy comics.

I'd like it to be a searchable database of our reviews and recommendations. I would have links on the front page where readers can find lists of comics/gn's by age and interest. If you click on an age group, say Early Elementary, you'd see an alphabetical list of titles, each one being a link to a review.

Each review would list the title, author and artist, publisher, recommended age level with notes, and interest area or genre.

Age categories:
All Ages
Early Elementary
Upper Elementary
Middle School

The interest/genre categories:
Easy Readers
Female Protagonists
How To
Science Fiction

I'd also like to do Top Ten lists by age and recommendations for classrooms.

What do you all think? Is there a need for a site like this? Would you use it? How would you use it and how would you like to see it organized? Should we have a rating system, like Amazon's stars?

Please post or email any input, advice, or comments. Thanks in advance for your help!


Knights of the Lunch Table

Knights of the Lunch Table, by Frank Camusso (Scholastic Graphix)

Shelby says: The story is about a boy named Artie King who is new in town and he has to go to a new school called Camelot Middle School. His sister, Morgan, is just a jerk who makes him miss the bus and makes him a soap sandwich for lunch. Artie makes the school bully mad because he gives him a soap sandwich that his sister made. Artie is the only one who can open cursed locker number 001XCL, so he becomes like the king of the school. The school bully, who thinks he’s the king, challenges Artie to a game of dodgeball against The Horde. Artie’s friends’ names are Percy, Wayne, and Gwen and they play dodgeball with Artie. The supervillanous principal, Mrs. Dagger, is on the bullys’ side, I guess ‘cause she’s evil. The science teacher is Mr. Merlyn and gets Artie and his friends out of trouble.

Sarah says: Knights of the Lunch Table is good for everybody. The story is basically the King Arthur story at a school, and instead of a sword in a stone, it’s a locker that’s busted and only can Artie King can open it. If you know about King Arthur and the whole pulling-the-sword-out-of-the-stone story, you can understand it and get the references. But, if you haven’t heard about that, you can still enjoy it because it makes sense on its own. Some people might not get that the lunch ladies are the three witches from Macbeth, but even if they don’t get that, they’ll get that the ladies are weird. The story is still really good and funny even if you don’t get any of that other stuff. I read it 3 times in a row!

Shelby says: I liked the drawings because the characters were cartoony but the settings were detailed and it was really, really colorful. Kids will like this book even if they don’t know the story of King Arthur because I liked it and I don’t know that much about it. I liked the pictures because they are really colorful and fun. I like the story, too, because it wasn’t exactly like every other story in the world.

Tracy says: This is a great example of an all-ages book. Kids will love the story of Artie and his friends facing down the bullies and the evil principal, while older readers will get a kick out of the clever parallels and references to everything medieval and literary. The amazing thing is how well the story stands on its own even with all the word play. It’s clever and easy to follow and each character is clearly defined visually. The panel layouts are dynamic but never get in the way of the story. Knights of the Lunch Table flows beautifully and keeps the action and laughs coming. I highly recommend this book for all libraries and classrooms.

See a sneak peek here.

Sticky Burr

Sticky Burr by John Lechner (Candlewick Press)

Sarah says: Sticky Burr is about a sticky burr (duh). He lives in Burrwood Forest with his best friend, Mossy Burr, and his enemy is Scurvy Burr. His dragonfly friend is Draffle and he helps Sticky by flying him around when he’s in trouble. They get along really well. There’s also a grasshopper that teaches Mossy Burr karate. You can tell which burr is which because Scurvy Burr has a hair on the top of his head, Mossy Burr has a bow, and Sticky has a big part in the middle of his hair…I mean stickers…oh, I don’t know, but he has a part. The first part of the story is about Scurvy being mean, the second part is about rescuing fireflies from inside a maze tree, and the last part is about trying to get the wild dogs out of Burr Village. This book has a lot of little things in it – some of them are Sticky Burr’s journal pages about the creatures and places in Burrwood Forest. Another thing I like is the song in the back called “Stuck in a Tree.” I tried to play it on the piano and I like to sing it. Sticky Burr is more like a kids’ book. It’s good for kids in elementary school.

Shelby says: Sticky Burr is for younger kids because the dialog is very simple and easy to read. It sounds childish to me. The character designs are really simple but some of the backgrounds of the forest are complex and painted well. I liked the idea of the maze tree and the little tiny village – it’s adorable because everything is so tiny. It’s cute and I like it, but it just seems like it’s for a younger audience.

Tracy says: Sticky Burr is definitely written for kids. It’s silly and sweet and the characters are charming. The character designs are very simple, so kids will enjoy drawing Sticky and his friends themselves – there is plenty here for kids to expand on in their own Burrwood Forest tales. The story is told in traditional paneled comic pages, but Lechner mixes it up by also including large splash pages, Sticky’s “diary” pages, a “newspaper,” and even a song, which I think will help hold young readers’ attention. It’s a nice amalgamation of picture book, comic, and activity book that younger kids will really enjoy. I recommend Sticky Burr for early elementary readers.

Sticky Burr started as a black and white webcomic, but the book is a completely new story in full color. Visit the Sticky Burr website for mucho goodies, including Sticky’s journal, games, and the Sticky Burr theme song.

Magic Trixie

Magic Trixie, by Jill Thompson (Harper Trophy)

Sarah says: Magic Trixie is really, super, awesomely cute and funny and has a good story. Magic Trixie is this little witch that doesn’t really like her baby sister. She goes to a school that has a ghost teacher and her friends are Loupe Garou, the werewolf girl, Stitch Patch, the Frankenstein’s monster, the vampire twins, and Nefi, the mummy girl. Nefi writes notes to Magic Trixie on her bandages and Stitch Patch eats batteries for lunch! Magic Trixie has normal kid problems and magic problems, so it’s a good balance of both and it’s a good story mixing them in together. Mimi is Magic Trixie’s grandma and she’s my favorite character because she’s all fancied up with a peacock feather broom and lots of jewelry and crazy clothes. She really needs some fashion advice. Jill wrote the story well and added a lot of tiny little details in the art, like Magic Trixie’s bed looks like a haunted house and she has a Dia de los Muertos skeleton doll and her backpack is a fly. I like her cat, Scratches, which is a really good cat name. Every single panel is really pretty because it has so many different colors and little things to look at. I think Magic Trixie is kind of like a magical Junie B. Jones. Everybody would really like Magic Trixie because it’s funny and everyone will get it and the story is simple and easy to understand, and the art is bold, colorful, and very detailed.

Shelby says: This is probably the most colorful book I have ever seen in the world! The art...where do I start? All the art is watercolor and that is a really hard medium to use because you can’t fix anything if you mess up, but Jill is a master. Everything is so three-dimensional because there’s shading in everything, even the blacks and whites. Everything looks so realistic, yet it’s still cartoony and adorable beyond words. Magic Trixie is kinda like Sarah because she won’t stop talking and she’s really hyper, but she’s kinda like me because when I was about her age I was jealous of my little sister, too. I like how Magic Trixie doesn’t have any front teeth and whenever she’s talking you can see this big gap in between her teeth, like every other kid at that age. I like the vampire twins and Nefi the mummy girl because they’re very cute instead of scary. My friends will pretend it’s dumb because it’s cute, but I think everyone will like it, even if they won’t admit it.

Tracy says: From the candy-colored watercolors (which make me want to lick the pages) to the adorable characters (who are just begging to be made into plushies for bedtime snuggles) to the sweet and witty story (with an “Aaaawwww” ending), Magic Trixie is a delight all around. Trixie’s friends are cute, cuddly takes on classic monsters with personalities that could easily belong to real, live children, and the adults feel so real that I wonder if Thompson modeled them on her own friends and family. Magic Trixie herself is a very bright, mischievous bundle of energy with a knack for getting in trouble – she reminds me of a certain curly-haired 9-year-old I know who shall remain nameless. I can’t recommend Magic Trixie highly enough – it’s jumped straight into my top ten all-ages comics of all time.

Meet the whole gang over at Magic Trixie’s blog. We can’t wait for Magic Trixie Sleeps Over!