Posts Tagged ‘comic books’
The first three books in the Amulet series
Way back at the end of 2007, Mike “Gabe” Krahulik of Penny Arcade mentioned that he’d read Amulet and said, “if you are a fan of comics I suggest you do the same.” He called Kazu Kibuishi “one of the most talented individuals working in comics today.” And then moved onto the subject of Dickerdoodle cookies. That’s Penny Arcade for you. I decided at that time to go ahead and order Book One: The Stonekeeper for myself, not knowing what to expectâ€”like I said, Gabe didn’t really say much about the book itself. I’d seen some of Kibuishi’s comics in the Flight anthologies that he edits but that’s about all I knew of his work.
I read it and enjoyed it, but then forgot to look for the next book until this spring when I happened to see Book Two: The Stonekeeper’s Curse at a bookstore and picked it up. By this time, though, my six-year-old daughter had learned to read and was starting to get into comics. As I was reading Book Two she kept looking over my shoulder. I said, “Hey, this isn’t the beginning of the story. You should go read the first book, and then you can read this one.” She read both books that afternoon, and then asked me where the next book was. I said: “You’ll have to wait.” Well, Book Three: The Cloud Searchers is finally out this month. I got an uncorrected proof from the publisher to preview (and had to fight my daughter for a chance to read it), and now we’re both eagerly awaiting the next one!
Here’s the story: after Emily’s father dies in a car accident, her mother moves them (with little brother Navin) to her great-grandfather’s old house. Pretty soon they discover some odd things about the house, including a mysterious amulet which begins to speak to Emily after she puts it on. When their mom is snatched away by a tentacled creature (see that thing on the cover?) Emily and Navin set off in pursuit, and find themselves in a parallel world, filled with monsters, unfriendly elves, and a house full of robot helpers left behind by great-grandfather Silas.
Kibuishi has created a world with a lot of depth, and it really draws the reader in. The amulet Emily finds grants her amazing powers but also demands her allegiance, which she is hesitant to give. You’re never entirely sure who to trustâ€”there aren’t always clear-cut bad guys and good guys. Sure, the anthropomorphic fox guy looks friendly but is he hiding something? And even the treacherous-looking elf (he’s got sharp teeth, for cryin’ out loud!) might turn out to be an ally. Since Emily and Navin are just kids, they have to decide who to trust and where to go on their own.
The artwork is dazzling, clearly influenced by anime but with Kibuishi’s own style. Every so often you get an establishing shot on a full-page spread and it’s like a scene from a movie. One of my favorite scenes comes at the end of the first book, when you discover a secret about Silas’ house … but I don’t want to give it away. But it’s a scene that made me want to stand up and cheer. There’s plenty of action throughout, but not so much that there’s not time to develop the characters, either.
Amulet is targeted at middle readersâ€”it’s listed as ages 9-12â€”but I think younger kids could enjoy it as well, as my daughter did. Just be sure to preview it, since there are some parts that are a little more frightening. And it’s certainly one that older kids and adults will love, too. I don’t know how many books are projected in the series, but wherever Kibuishi takes us, we’re happy to go along for the ride. Click here to read the prologue from the first book, and then get started with Book One. Heck, buy all three now and save yourself the wait later!
Wired: Heroic kids, a mysterious talking amulet, a mechanical rabbit named Miskit, Leon Redbeard the fox-man, need I go on?
Tired: Okay, yeah, not everyone likes talking animals, but the story hints that there’s actually a reason for their existence.
Disclosure: I received an advance proof of Book Three for review purposes.
See original here:
Review: Amulet Grabs Hold and Doesnâ€™t Let Go
Comic books, graphic novels, sequential art or manga; whatever you call them, illustrated books are a great way to tell a story. Iâ€™ve been reading comics for most of life, except for a brief period from age 12 to 16 when I though I was too old for them. Boy was I wrong.
Iâ€™ve been reading comics to my kids almost since the day they were born, mixing them in with other storybooks and eventually novels. One of the great things about reading comics is that graphic stories cut out all of the boring “He said” and “She said” stuff. If you combine this with distinctive voices for the different characters, your kids will always know whoâ€™s saying what, making stories much easier to keep up with.
Here are a few of their favorites, roughly arranged for age appropriateness from younger to older readers.
1. Owly – Andy Runton
Donâ€™t let the insanely cute art and lack of text fool you: thereâ€™s some great story-telling going on in Owly. With the aid of his friends Wormy the Worm, and Scampy the chipmunk, Owly roams about his forest home facing challenges, overcoming obstacles, but always trying to help out. Winner of the 2006 Eisner Award for “Best Publication for a Younger Audience,” Owly escapes coming off as saccharin sweet by showing Owly dealing with problems most kids encounter, helping teach them how to persevere and overcome disappointment.
One of my favorite Owly stories has Owly building a birdbath and entering it into a contest. Although he is very disappointed when his does not win, Owly is later delighted to discover that his is the bird bath the birds actually prefer swimming in, rather than the birdbath the judges chose as the “winner.” This teaches kids that there are actually more important things than winning a contest.
It may seem odd at first to “read” a book without words, but what I do with my kids is point to panels and talk about whatâ€™s going on, explaining some of the pictograms that the author uses in place of speech. Even better is when your kids begin “reading” the stories to you, explaining what they think is happening.
You can purchase the Owly series from Top Shelf Comics in the single issue magazine format or as part of the 5 collected trade paper backs.
2. Tiny Titans â€“ Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani
The only Super-hero comic books I have in this list, Tiny Titans has short vignette stories with characters drawn from the youth of the DC Universe. The stories rarely go on for more than a few page, generally telling a story to get to a punch line at the end. This format makes it easy to read a few stories before bed time or the entire issue as time allows. The jokes are often really bad, but if you love bad jokes (like me and my kids do) they can be really funny, especially if you are a fan of the DC Universe (like me and my kids).
My favorite schtick is having the Monitor (from Crisis on Infinite Earth) as the Hall Monitor (hahahah) who is constantly being thwarted by the The Anti-monitor (bwahahaha), and Lunch Lady Darkside makes the Tiny Titans take their exams early, leading to the Finals Crisis (BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA). There are a lot of inside jokes, but whether your kids have read the DC books or not, there are plenty of great groaners in every issue that they will get.
You can get a free preview online of the monthly Tiny Titans magazine or purchase the two collected trade paperback volumes Welcome to the Treehouse and Adventures in Awesomeness.
3. The Little Endless Story Book – Jill Thompson
Although The Little Endless Storybook might be classified as a story book (thus the title) Iâ€™m including it in this list because it uses characters based on one of the best comic series ever: Neil Gaimanâ€™s The Sandman.
Little Endless uses characters Jill Thompson created as an artist for the original Sandman seriesâ€”basically cute wide eyed versions of the Endless: Death, Dream, Destruction, Despair, Desire, and Delirium. The story revolves around Deliriumâ€™s dog Barnibus who loses his mistress one dayâ€”not hard to do, since sheâ€™s a wee bit scatter brainedâ€”and has to visit all of Deliriumâ€™s brothers and sisters (the Endless) looking for her.
If youâ€™ve ever read any of The Sandman series you might be asking how this could possibly be a childrenâ€™s book, especially since it says “Recommended For Mature Readers” on itâ€™s back cover. I can only assume that this warning was because of the original source material. Iâ€™ve been reading The Little Endless Storybook to my daughter since she was 6, with no ill effect. Well, she did dress as Delirium one Halloween. But she didnâ€™t get lost. At least not for very long.
The Little Endless Story Book is available in hardback, but itâ€™s only $9.95 (US). What a deal!
4. Magic Trixie – Jill Thompson
Jill Thompson makes the list again with the story of a little witch named Magic Trixie. Trixie whose friends include a Werewolf, a Mummy, a Frankenstienâ€™s Monster, and Twin Vampiresâ€”is precocious as she learns the ins and outs of witchcraft from her very cool witch parents and struggles with her monster school lessons.
Magic Trixie is full of energy and a lot of fun to read, but also shows kids as having relationships and interactions, having to learn about the strange habits of other families. For example, when Trixie spends the night, her friend Loupie (yes, sheâ€™s a werwolf) her family likes to stay up all night howling at the moon, a bit later than Trixie would like to be up, especially on a school night.
5. Here Be Snapdragons – John Kovalic & Liz Rathke
GeekDadâ€™s own cartoonist-in-residence â€” John Kovalic â€” makes the cut, but as an author. Along with Liz Rathke taking care of the art duties they have created a wonderful collection of stories about a group of young roll-playing gamers, with the occasional cross over of characters from Johnâ€™s other series about gamers, Dork Tower.
These are stories about the power of imagination, but always with a little twist when reality stampedes in through the door. My favorite is when the kids goth baby sitter, Gilly, helps the kids pull together last minute Halloween costumes. All is fine and dandy in their imaginations, but the final results leave a bit to be desired.
There is currently only one volume of Snapdragons, but my daughter is hoping for more soon (hint, hint, hint John and Liz).
6. Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures â€“ Various
Based on the cell animation style of the Genndy Tartakovsky series rather than the current 3D animated stories, these books deal with the earliest part of the Clone Wars in the Star Wars universe that happens almost immediately after Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. Although the stories stand alone, they are full of action and adventure, recapturing what was always best about the the Star Wars universe: a sense of the mystery and majesty in a galaxy full of exotic planets and people.
7. Bone â€“ Jeff Smith
Bone is that rare bread of epic fantasy and light hearted humor that will keep you as interested in the story line as your kids are. The main character is Bone whose appearance is not unlike a cartoon bone from Tom & Jerry. He is accompanied in his adventures by his two similarly cartoonish cousins Phoney Bone and Smiley Bone who, for some reason, my son always insists I do with an Elvis voice. Despite the cartoonish nature of some of the characters, the characterizations are always strong in this book.
The first volume, “Out of Boneland”, begins with Bone and his cousins fleeing to the other side of the mountains from their home landâ€”yes, itâ€™s called Bonelandâ€” when Phoney is caught in some shady scheme, a reoccurring them in the story. The cousins become trapped in the new land by a sudden snow stormâ€”the entire blizzard falls in a single panel of the book in one great big “WHUMP”â€”and begin to make friends (Rose and Thorn), enemies (the horrible, but stupid “Rat Creatures”), and some uneasy but important allies (Lucias and The Great Red Dragon).
Bone can be purchased in nine volumes or as a single massive Omnibus edition. I recommend the individual volumes, though, as they are easier to read to your kids in bed.
8. Myth Adventures â€“ Phil Foglio & Robert Lynn Asprin
Although commonly thought of as a multi-book fantasy series, my first exposure with the Myth Adventures stories was when I found the first three issues of the comics at a convention. Although I later grew to love the Robert Lynn Asprin books, it was Phil Foglioâ€™s black and white comic adaptation of the first novel that won me over. I have never laughed as hard in my life as I did at those first few issues, in large part due to his incredibly expressive artwork.
The story revolves around Skeeve, a magicians apprentice whose having a hard time with the basics, until his master, Garkin, is assassinated in the middle of summoning a demon. Hilarity ensues when Skeeveâ€™s new master (the same demon who was being summoned when Garkin is killed) looses his powers and has to rely on Skeeveâ€™s unsteady abilities.
This is one of my daughterâ€™s favorites, but, alas, I could only find a few of my back issues. So, joy of joys the day we found the entire Myth Adventures series collected and colorized in a single trade paperback.
9. Sugar Sugar Rune â€“ Moyoco Anno
There is a lot of great manga on the shelves, but, to be honest, I find it a little difficult to read to my kids. Itâ€™s not the whole leftâ€“toâ€“right reading thing, but the nature of Japanese sequential art visual language that I find hard enough to follow while Iâ€™m reading it, but even harder when Iâ€™m reading it out-loud. So when my daughter brought me a copy of Sugar Sugar Rune and insisted I read it to her, I sighed and tried my best. Much to my surprise it turned out to be a great read.
Like Magic Trixie, Sugar Sugar Rune is about witches. However, unlike the aforementioned story, there are multiple witches (Chocolate and Vanilla) who are best friends. Thereâ€™s only one catch: they are competing to be Queen of the Magic World and only one of them can win.
There are 8 volumes in the series. I recommend starting at the beginning.
10. Girl Genius â€“ Phil & Kaja Foglio
Phil Foglio strikes again, this time with Girl Genius, a steam-punk extravaganza he is creating with his wife Â Kaja Foglio. This is a fascinatingly detailed world full of clanking technology, floating airships, and early 19th century styles.
The story centers around Agatha Clay and her quest of self discovery, as the ditzy young girl grows to realize that she is a lot smarter than she had thought. Agatha is a “Spark”whose had her intelligence inhibited so as not to reveal her true identity as the heir to a great lineage of thinkers: The Heterodynes. My daughter especially relates to the character of a brainy girl trying to make her way through the awkward phases of growing up.
The Foglios moved Girl Genius online a few years back, forgoing individual printed issues, helping to pioneer online comics. You can read the entire series on the Web Site, with regular updates. But I would highly recommend buying the issues in PDF format, and then reading them on an iPad or laptop. If you are more *ahem* technologically challenged, you can purchase printed versions of any of the nine volumes.
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Beyond Biff, Bam, Pow: 10 Graphic Novels To Enjoy With Kids of Every Age
Since there’s simply so much stuff I collected at Comic-Con (freebies and samples, review copies, books I actually purchased…) I thought I’d group some reviews together for easier browsing. This edition: kids’ stuff! Most of these are things that are appropriate for young kids, things that I let my six-year-old read (and some of them, my three-year-old), but many of them are great for older readers too.
Here are some of my favorites:
Have a look, and stay tuned for more stuff for tweens and adults!
The rest is here:
Comic-Con Round-Up: For Kids
Superheros (like governors) disappear from time to time, and while in the stories it’s a very dramatic development, we as readers have gotten plenty of experience with the usual reasons it happen. Here, then, is a list of those reasons (expanded with reader comments from the original, first posted here in June, 2009):
15. Replaced by a sidekick.
14. Transported to the future to assist the team of superheroes inspired by oneâ€™s deeds.
13. Trapped in a glacier.
12. Broken back.
11. Trapped in the phantom zone.
10. Retire rather than be hounded by an uncaring government/public.
9. Secretly kidnapped and replaced by a Skrull (Marvel) or a Durlan. (DC.)
8. Secretly kidnapped and replaced by a clone/shapeshifter.
7. â€œI could tell you, but then Iâ€™d have to kill you.â€
6. Sent back to the dawn of time by Darkseid.
4. Accidentally stumbled into mirror universe.
3. Armor was taken over via remote control.
2. held captive on Paradise Island and didnâ€™t see the need to escape.
andâ€¦.finallyâ€¦the number one explanation:
1. Got caught in a Zeta Beam and transported to Rann.
Top 15 Reasons That Superheroes Disappear