Bonus Review by the Boys!
At Comic-Con we were thrilled to meet the Patton family from Ohio. Turns out they actually read our column (!) and are big comics fans themselves. I asked them to write some guest reviews, not knowing that the girls were going to stage a revolt. *sigh*
So, here is a fabulous set of reviews by Michael, 10 and Alex, 8., and mom, Jenny Enjoy!
All Ages Reads - What the Boys Say
Michael, 10, and Alex, 8, had the pleasure of meeting “All Ages Reads” reviewers Shelby and Sarah at Comic-Con. These Ohio boys have read most of what the girls have recommended, bringing them hours of joy. In addition to being an avid reader, Michael draws comics, plays baseball, likes to skateboard and is always hungry. Alex loves football and videogames, collects stuffed bears, plays Chess and talks nonstop.
Volume I: A Cheese Related Mishap and Other Stories
By Ray Friesen
Alex says … I thought it was extremely funny. Two narrators fight to tell the story. It’s so funny! When one gets hungry, he goes into the story because a character was cooking food. This book is about a kid named Raymond who visits his Uncle Clark and cousin Fidget in the country of Pellmellia. He arrives during the Cheese Festival. Eggner Von Shmoodledike, who is a professor, invented C5, which turns things into cheese. An evil scientist, who once lost to him in a dancing contest, sends his chicken ninjas to steal the C5. There’s a penguin character (Melville) who says penguins aren’t made for the cold. There’s an intermission when Raymond reads his comics. I have read it twice and will reread it. I recommend it for anyone who likes comedy.
Michael says … Lookit! was a really humorous book. I liked how the two guys argued in the beginning about who got to narrate the story. They were bad narrators, but that made it funny. I liked when the professor showed his lame movie, “The Rivals,” which won an award named after the guy who made the movie. My guess is that it’s an award you’d get if you were really bad. The villain is Jarvis Van Chickenheimer. The two guys were rivals because back in kindergarten one said, “Cheese sucks.” At the end of part one, the main character Raymond joins the narrators to take a break and read his comic books about Captain Cautious. At the beginning of part two, the narrators return and get off script. The bad disguises on the characters cracked me up. They were horrible – a sock pocket, the narration hat and roller skates – but they worked to fool chicken ninjas. The art style was cool, and I think others would like this book.
Jenny says … This is definitely an “all ages” book. I cracked up at its goofiness and absurdity, including parts the boys didn’t get … and you already know how funny they thought it was! The good news is that the boys were so engaged with the story, they raced to read part two. The bad news is they missed some witty storytelling in the 29-page “comics within the comic” section, particularly the Caption Cautious tales, showing Friesen’s illustration diversity. After several subsequent reads (The boys reread their favorites over and over and over again.), they read and enjoyed the middle section. I highly recommend this book to kids and parents.
Kaput & Zosky
By Lewis Trondheim, Illustrated by Eric Cartier, Translated by Edward Gauvin
Alex says … It’s a collection of stories in which two purple aliens invade planets. Kaput is short, egg-shaped, has red hair and likes to destroy everything. Zosky is tall, thin and smart. First they invaded Earth and a spider was like a beast to them so my guess is that they are smaller than they look. Kaput makes bad decisions that get them in trouble, and Zosky tries to stop him. The thing is there are tons of stories. Some of them are really funny. One I really liked was about another alien on a planet who would tell Kaput and Zoksy stuff (like who the ruler of this planet is) only if he beat them in hopscotch and “rock, paper, scissors.” One-page comics called “the Cosmonaut” are in between each story. Those are very funny. I wouldn’t say it’s too violent, but Kaput and Zosky do have laser guns and do kill other aliens. The art style looked familiar to me and I liked it a lot. I think boys will like it more than girls, but some girls may like it too. Everyone has their own opinion.
Michael says … Kaput and Zosky have the goal of conquering planets. Kaput, the small one, just wants to kill, kill, kill. Zosky is interested in learning about the culture and discovering the hopes, frustrations and goals of inhabitants. It’s funny because these two guys want to take over planets in two totally different ways. One planet elects its leader and Kaput didn’t like that because no one got killed. Once Kaput won a million dollars without cheating in a gambling game and said, “That was no fun.” He ends up being made ruler of the planet and didn’t want to be since he couldn’t kill people. They go to one planet where the beings look like small, red Pac-Mans who offer to do whatever Kaput and Zosky want. The leader says, “It’s all yours. Kill us, rob us, pillage the countryside … whatever floats your boat.” But this cooperation throws Kaput off, who says he “wants to be feared and dreaded.” This frustrates Kaput, and he and Zosky end up leaving the planet. The cover art made me laugh: The characters are more worried about killing a wasp than being eaten by the big monster whose tongue they are running on. All of the stories were good, and I especially liked the last “Cosmonaut” comic. I recommend this book for everyone, especially boys. Tomboys might like it too.
Jenny says … The characters provide a nice foil for one another, and their interaction is the highlight. Kaput is full of fury, and Zosky is good at redirecting his partner’s feistiness. Zosky is very logical about how to accomplish their goal of taking over planets. Even though his mission is questionable, the way he pursues it is respectable. For instance, he talks Kaput out of killing everyone on one planet because then they would have no one to plant and harvest food, cook and clean, play music, etc. Zosky brings balance to the team, but the stories wouldn’t be as entertaining without Kaput. It’s their teamwork that makes the stories work. I must nod to the second to last story in which Kaput and Zosky crash land in a cabbage patch field and become the adopted babies to an alien mother who meets their every need. Zosky finds it paradise, but Kaput is angry about there being nothing more he wants. Great stuff. The vibrant colors add to the energy of the tales. I especially loved the depictions of space as Kaput and Zosky leave one planet and travel to another. Despite disappointments, they maintain enthusiasm about their quest. If parents are concerned about the violence, I suggest they read it first, although I feel none of it is gratuitous. Rather, it adds to the humor and plot progression.
The Best Little Ghost in the World!
By James Kochalka
Michael says … It’s about a ghost (Johnny Boo) who has a pet ghost (Squiggle). I find that funny. Squiggle kind of looks like a ghost from Mario World except he’s really tiny and doesn’t have arms. In the beginning they play tag, and Johnny Boo can’t catch Squiggle. He was doing loop-de-loops and Johnny Boo said that was cheating. Johnny has Boo Power. When he says “Boo,” he scares Squiggle. Squiggle says he has Squiggle Power. The ghosts play by the same rules that Alex and I have: If one cheats then the other one gets to cheat. They end up fighting but the idea of ice cream reunites them. An ice cream monster appears when Squiggle shouts, “ICE CREAM!” Two problems come up, and the special powers of the ghosts come in handy. It was a short book that I recommend for others. I liked it.
Alex says … The main theme is ice cream, and I like ice cream. I thought it was funny how Johnny Boo buried and dug up ice cream. I like the art style because it’s cartoonish. Squiggle is a simple raindrop figure, and I think it’s creative how the author formed a raindrop into a pet ghost.
Jenny says … The character Johnny Boo is just so darned cute. His mug on the book’s cover caught my attention when we were at the Top Shelf Productions table at Comic-Con. He’s a marshmallow-white little guy with flowy 80s bangs. It’s amazing how much emotion is conveyed through his simply drawn eyes – joy, frustration, concern, hope, affection, fear and surprise. As the boys said, the illustrations appear rather simple, and the book is a fast read, but it has depth and a sweetness that was appealing.