Comic books/graphic novels are really popping up everywhere. Our local library has a specific comic book area with the latest releases in addition to the graphic novel section. Even the kids area has a whole shelf reserved from graphic novels aimed specifically at the newest generation of comic book readers. Obvs as a mom of two young ones who love comic book character and who also love to read, this is a great way to encourage them to read more and it’s in a format that feels perhaps a little less formal to them and much more fun.
Sure this shelf is full of Peanuts compilations and some classic superheroes but the more I look the more creative series I find. So, I’ve decided to pick up a few each time we hit the library–and well, you get to hear about them.
Cardboard Kingdom is a new release from June 2018 which I actually first saw in an advertisement from Barnes and Noble. I’ve been wanting to check it out and finally saw a copy at the library. This book is the epitome of SUMMER–all about a group of neighborhood kids who create a fantastical land complete with castles and monsters, heroes and villains and even a local watering hole to relive their adventures.
The format of this book is pretty neat too. Chad Sell is the main author, involved in all the stories but pairs up with a different author to create all the different characters in the book. While there isn’t a lot of dialogue, the illustrations lead you along on the journey, eventually connecting all the individual stories together in one final epic battle!
Both the best thing about this book and also the least realistic, unfortunately I feel, is the diversity of the characters. There are different races and ethnicities, different family situations, different socioeconomic classes and even undertones of different sexual orientations–all seamlessly disappearing as the fantasy takes over and the kids all become absorbed in the story they’ve worked so hard to create. While I find that kids certainly are the most accepting of people’s differences and the most likely to make those lines of division disappear, we still live highly segregated lives–sticking to neighborhoods that contain people that look and think like ourselves. But maybe that’s the point of this book–to bring all those different walks of life together and show that together, with different ideas and different backgrounds, we are capable of building anything from the ground up.
In the same thread, Recess Warriors is also a play on imagination and make believe, this time on the set of a school yard at recess. There are long set factions and territories and a great set of characters–from the lone cowboy out on “The Badlands” and the pirates who have claimed “Ye Old Wreckyard” where it is old and gross and “people go missing”.
At the center of the story is a lone hero named Bryce, aka Scrap who with his reluctant sidekick Yoshi have to stop the spread of the dreaded Cooties which has affected nearly all the boys on the yard but then mutates to a zombie virus which has both the boys and girls craving brains for their recess snack. Only by fighting their way to the sprinkler system (avoiding the zombies by smartly calling a 30 second TIME OUT) and infusing the water with the cooties anti-virus (which Bryce conveniently got from Juliet who started the whole outbreak) does the yard return to some normalcy just before Yoshi gets captured by the pirate gang who happens to want her as a part of their gang.
I found this book super creative, and well written to be honest. The characters had some depth to them and the plot was everything you would want from a playground drama. I am continuously surprised when my kids come home with phrases and games that I assumed were cast aside as “old school” once I no longer had use for them. Yet my son has come home with those paper fortune tellers and using “bubble gum, bubble gum in a dish, how many pieces do you wish?” to determine who goes first in games. This book fits right in there–bringing back all those childhood blacktop memories, and bringing them back to life.
Check out these titles and more at your local public library!