Comics for the Common Core: TOON Books Encourage Kids to Read

An earlier version of this essay ran in the “Elkhart Truth” in September 2014. The “Luke on the Loose” storyline is a good fit for Father’s Day. Thanks to Better World Books, 215 S. Main St. in Goshen, for providing me with books to review. You can find all of these books at the store.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a comics devotee, I spend a lot of energy trying to convince people that comics aren’t just for kids—but of course many, many comics are intended for kids in the first place, even when adults enjoy them too. When done well, kids’ comics can strengthen young readers’ tools for interpreting both words and images, and help them develop reading and critical thinking skills crucial to navigating our visually complex society.

I usually review publications less than a year old, but in celebration of the recent creation of TOON Graphics, a new division of TOON books, I’m reviewing two of my preschool-age sons’ favorite books from TOON—practically their favorite books, period—“Luke On the Loose” (2008) and “Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking” (2011). Continue reading “Comics for the Common Core: TOON Books Encourage Kids to Read”

“The Prince and the Dressmaker,” by Jen Wang

“The Prince and the Dressmaker,” by Jen Wang. 288 pages, First Second, February 2018. Hardcover, $24.99, 12+ for adult themes

Thanks to Better World Books, 215 S. Main St. in Goshen, for providing me with books to review. You can find or order all of the books I review at the store.

Jen Wang’s “The Prince and the Dressmaker” has been making headlines in “The Comics Journal,” “Publisher’s Weekly,” and other publications expected for a young adult (YA) graphic novel. More surprising is that it also hit the headlines of magazines like “Forbes.” Most of the press about this book highlights the gender identity of the main character, which is both fabulous and important, especially amidst the buzz about a certain royal romance. I’ll get to all that in a minute. Continue reading ““The Prince and the Dressmaker,” by Jen Wang”

Brave the Wilderness with “Lumberjanes”: A Comic for “Hardcore Lady Types” and the Rest of Us

Another post from the archives: this review was originally published for the Elkhart Truth in early August 2015. The “Lumberjanes” crew has been prolific since then: Volume 8 just came out this past February, and Volume 9 is expected in July.

Thanks to Better World Books, 215 S. Main St. in Goshen, for providing me with books to review. You can find all of these books at the store.

Search for “women” and “woods” on the Internet, and you’ll mostly turn up harrowing stories of rescues and close calls. Despite the long history of the Girl Scouts and other nature-oriented organizations, our culture generally expects for women and girls to look something like this in the woods:

The young adult series “Lumberjanes,” however, has no patience for such stereotypes. These campers at Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for “Hardcore Lady Types” may be briefly startled, but it only takes until the bottom of the page for them to recover, with style and grace, no less:

Continue reading “Brave the Wilderness with “Lumberjanes”: A Comic for “Hardcore Lady Types” and the Rest of Us”