Quick Reviews: Bro-Bots, Big Nate, and More!
The holidays are right around the corner, so here’s a handful of quick takes on some kids’ graphic novels that would make great gifts—or excellent additions to any library.
Brief Histories of Everyday Objects, by Andy Warner
Ages 10 Up
This is my favorite book right now, and when my nieces and nephew (ages 10-16) were visiting a few weeks ago, they couldn’t put it down either. It appeals to a certain type of nerdy reader who enjoys odd facts and interesting bits of history, and that’s basically everyone in my family. Warner tells the origin stories of various household objects, including toothbrushes, paper clips, and Post-It Notes, in brief chapters that stand alone, so you can read the book in small bites. The facts are historically accurate, but the dialogue is completely invented and often very snarky. That makes this book a good choice for older kids and teens, and adults will find a lot to like about it too.
Do-Gooders, by J. Torres, Justin Wagner, and Warren Wucinich
Oni Press, $9.99
Sort of like Goofus and Gallant, Do-Gooders is a primer on good behavior for young children. Comics-format books can be tough to read aloud, because it’s not always obvious what order to read the text in. Do-Gooders avoids that with text boxes neatly placed above the action and just a handful of word balloons arranged thoughtfully across the pages. Another point in its favor: It’s a rhyming story with a lilting rhythm, which makes it fun to read and fun to listen to. The story is a wee bit preachy, with side-by-side examples of good and bad behavior, but the lively illustrations, featuring a boy and a girl drawn in an expressive, cartoony style, more than make up for that. Also, it’s a sturdy board book so toddlers can read it themselves without doing too much damage.
Bro-Bots and the Kaiju Kerfuffle, by J. Torres and Sean Dove
Oni Press, $12.99
Fans of Voltron and Transformers will enjoy this cute, funny take on the genre, featuring three wisecracking robot brothers who team up to fight a giant that threatens their city. The book is formatted for younger readers, with large panels and more action than text, but the in-jokes will make more sense those on the older end of the range. Regardless, it’s a fun book for an adult to read aloud or for a child to read alone.
Big Nate: Thunka, Thunka, Thunka, by Lincoln Peirce
Andrews McMeel, $9.99
Kids love Big Nate, and it’s easy to see why: It’s genuinely funny. Even after a decade of writing and drawing the strip, Peirce manages to find comedy gold in the daily life of middle schoolers. This compilation includes some Halloween gags, a running storyline about a dog in love with a cat, and Nate interviewing his grandparents about life in the olden days. And Peirce breathes new life into an age-old storyline—the good kid bets Nate that he can’t go a week without getting a detention—with a twist ending. Big Nate is good, clean fun with a subversive side that makes it genuinely appealing to kids.
Oh, Brother! Brat Attack!, by Bob weber, Jr., and Jay Stephens
Andrews McMeel, $9.99
This colorful paperback collects a short-lived comic strip about a mischievous boy and his more responsible but very loving older sister. Bud loves sweets, especially chocolate cake, and is constantly stealing Lily’s jellybeans; he also breaks her computer and iPad. Although Lily tries to get Bud in line, she’s more indulgent than bossy. Bud doesn’t have as much edginess as Big Nate, but these comics are funny and the style is simple and cartoony, a throwback to strips like The Family Circus. That makes this book a good read for younger kids, who are most likely to appreciate the poop and fart jokes that pop up occasionally. Adding to the fun are six spot-the-diffrences puzzles in the back of the book. Bob Weber, Jr., is the creator of the Slylock Fox comic strip.
About Brigid Alverson
Brigid Alverson, the editor of the Good Comics for Kids blog, has been reading comics since she was 4. She has an MFA in printmaking and has worked as a book editor and a newspaper reporter; now she is assistant to the mayor of Melrose, Massachusetts. In addition to editing GC4K, she writes about comics and graphic novels at MangaBlog, SLJTeen, Publishers Weekly Comics World, Comic Book Resources, MTV Geek, and Good E-Reader.com. Brigid is married to a physicist and has two daughters in college, which is why she writes so much. She was a judge for the 2012 Eisner Awards.
SLJ Blog Network