The Good Comics for Kids 2014 Gift Guide
It’s that time of year again. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are long gone. But there’s still time to find the perfect gift for your loved ones or friends. Our bloggers have suggestions so that you can pass on the gift of (comics!) reading.
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
For slightly older readers or middle graders with a taste for the macabre, Carroll’s collection of spooky stories are perfect for cold winter nights to read under the covers. Beautifully illustrated, this hefty volume of seven stories features ghosts, dark creatures and murderers – not for the faint of heart. If you have any kids on your gift lists who are big fans of books like Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark or The Graveyard Book, this book will be at the top of their reading pile this holiday season.
Sisters/Smile Box Set by Raina Telgemeier
Raina Telgemeier has single handedly popularized the graphic memoir for kids. If your kids haven’t had the opportunity to read either of her poignant, authentic memoirs about Telgemeier’s dental drama and sister struggles, here’s the perfect opportunity. This two-book boxset includes a slip case and bonus stickers! Every kid loves stickers, right?
Moomin: The Deluxe Anniversary Edition, by Tove Jansson
If you or your kids aren’t familiar with the Moomintroll stories, this is the perfect opportunity to fall in love. In honor of what would have been Jansson’s 100th birthday, Drawn and Quarterly has released a gorgeous slip-covered collection of 21 of her best comics stories, including “Moomin on the Riviera,” “ Moomin Builds a House,” and “Moomin and the Comet.” Similar in tone to the Winnie the Pooh books, the Moomins are a little more melancholy, a teensy bit more clever, and they radiate hygge. The book comes in a beautiful slipcover and includes a poster. An absolutely beautiful package that will look great wrapped or unwrapped.
Pokemon Adventures: Ruby & Sapphire Box Set
The Pokemon Adventures manga series follows the video game stories rather than the anime. Ruby & Sapphire follows the game of the same name, taking a few different roads from the game as well. This box set includes the entire story arc and follows the adventures of Pokemon trainers Ruby and Sapphire, who while challenging each other to win all the Pokemon Contests and Gym badges, respectively, must also find a way to stop Team Aqua and Team Magma from awakening the ancient legendary Pokemon Groudon and Kyogre. The story has plenty of action and character development and is a real page turner. It’s a lot of fun for kids or adults to read.
Olympians Box Set by George O’Connor
Greek gods and the myths about them can be seen as the original tales of superheroes. Creator George O’Connor has taken the stories of the ancient Greek gods and done just that: Retold their origins and adventures like they were superheroes. This box set collects the first six volumes of the series, including Zeus, Athena, Hera, Hades, Poseidon, and Aphrodite. His tales liven up the old gods for a new generation, and he chooses stories that are both well known and not so well known. The books also include trading card-like stats for the characters, an afterword by O’Connor about writing the book, and further readings for kids whose curiosity is sparked by the books. It’s a great value and another series both kids and adults can enjoy.
Hello Kitty: Hello 40, by various authors (Perfect Square)
This book is a 40th birthday tribute to Hello Kitty as she approaches middle age, featuring 41 wordless Hello Kitty stories by a variety of creators. The list of contributors includes quite a few fan favorites: Gene Luen Yang (Boxers and Saints, The Shadow Hero), Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy), Jennifer L. and Matthew Holm (Babymouse), and Art Baltazar and Franco (Tiny Titans). With a roster like that, the book embraces a wide range of art and storytelling styles. All the stories are short, just two to four pages; some are simple and easy to follow, while others are quite complex, and a few are more like visual poems than narratives.
Spongebob Comics, edited by Chris Duffy
When I was growing up, we always got a comic in our stockings. Usually it was Archie, and those are great, but the Spongebob comics are really something special. Former Nickelodeon Magazine editor Chris Duffy has brought that same quirky sense of humor—and a stable of really talented creators—over to these comics. Each one has three or four complete stories, all as good-hearted and kid-friendly as the animated cartoon, done with sophistication that makes them a good read for adults as well.
Voltron: From Days Long Ago – A Thirtieth Anniversary Retrospective (VIZ Media)
Hello Kitty isn’t the only one celebrating an anniversary this year—it’s the 30th anniversary of Voltron: Defender of the Universe! The hit animated series, which debuted in the U.S. in 1984 in syndication (the anime in Japan was known as Beast King GoLion), became an instant hit and was one of the original introductions of anime to American audiences. The book is a love letter to fans and looks at the origins of the show, the amazing Voltron toys, the specs of the Voltron Lion robots themselves, the pilots, and the villains. A bonus comic book story is included as well.
Younger readers will love the Batman: Lil Gotham collections, Volume 1 and Volume 2 which were both released this year. Written and illustrated by Dustin Nguyen (and co-written by Derek Fridolfs) it’s a collection of short stories featuring kidified heroes and villains of Gotham that mixes humor into the Batman mythos and is a lot of fun.
DC Comics has also re-released the excellent Batman Adventures comic books based off the hit cartoon Batman: The Animated Series from the 1990s. Volume 1 was released in November and includes the first 10 issues with more to come in 2015. Written by Kelley Puckett and illustrated by Ty Templeton, it’s one of the finest examples of Batman comic books that contain the essence of what makes Batman great but also accessible for younger readers.
For teens and older I recommend the Batman: A Celebration of 75 Years collection. It’s a nice broad look at some of the best Batman stories since his first appearance in 1939 to the present.
For Batman fans who want a chronological look at the Dark Knight Detective, DK Publishing has a wonderful guide called Batman: A Visual History. The book includes an introduction by fan-favorite creator Frank Miller and looks at highlights from Batman’s 75 year career from the humble beginnings to being a worldwide cultural icon.
LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham—Batman fans can’t wait until 2015 to play the Batman: Arkham Knight game for next generation consoles, but in the meantime fans both young and old can play in the imaginative LEGO game Batman 3: Beyond Gotham. Players can unlock an amazing 150 DC Comics heroes and villains as Batman and a multitude of heroes try to defeat the villainous Brainiac. The game is available on a multitude of consoles including Xbox 360, Xbox One, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo WiiU and PC.
Walt Disney’s Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck: The Don Rosa Library Vols. 1 & 2 Gift Box Set. Fans of Fantagraphics’ fantastic reprintings of Carl Bark’s classic Disney stories and readers of great adventure stories will be thrilled of this gift box set featuring both Vol. 1: The Son of the Sun and Vol. 2: Return to Plain Awful by the equally popular creator Don Rosa. The two collections are just the beginning of a planned ten-volume collection covering Rosa’s nearly two-decade run, and this is not to be missed. Featuring Uncle Scrooge, Donald Duck, and nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie, the stories have been beloved by comic book fans for years and are reprinted in a high quality format sure to please fans of all ages. For fans of Disney comics and for readers of adventure stories including Jeff Smith’s Bone and Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet series.
Archie 1000 page Comics Celebration by Archie Comics
Archie has been around so long that reading an Archie comic is something to be shared by generations. My students even tell me that they borrow the comics from the school’s library to share with their parents. So whether a teen is picking up the 1000 page comic for their parents or a parent is sharing the 1000 page goodness with their child, this bit of goodness is something worth to pick up for the holidays.
Superman: A Word Adventure (DC Super Friends) by Donald Lemke & Min Sung Ku
Since I have a household full of pre-readers I’m always looking for a gift for the young ones. And I do want my children to share my love of comics. These books are meant for the youngest of (pre)readers. I think these board books are a perfect way to introduce the littlest of your family to the world of super heroes. The format is sturdy. The pictures are lively. The story is quaint. And each page labels words to share with your young ones.
Hansel & Gretel by Neil Gaiman & Lorenzo Mattotti
Of course you might think a fairy tale is meant for the little ones, but that isn’t the case in this retelling of Hansel & Gretel. The downright spooky illustrations and the eerie text will be a perfect spine-tingling read for a middle-grade and even a teen reader! Though not strictly a comic, it’s worth the read.
About Esther Keller
Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. She also curates the Graphic Novel collection for the NYC DOE Citywide Digital Library. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.
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