In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Summer funnies

Dear Annie,

This afternoon, I was poking around our chaotic kids' book shelves that house both rotating sample books and treasured family volumes, looking for a blog topic.  I kept having to push past multiple volumes of Calvin and  Hobbes, Fox Trot, Zits, Doonesbury, and more -- and it finally hit me that I need look no further.

Comic strips, like the ones that generations have read in the paper (although who knows if the current kids will have paper newspapers) are a back door way for some kids to work their way into reading.  And they're so entertaining.  You talked about reading Doonesbury books while grown-ups talked at your grandparents'/my parents' apartment.  Comics are a lovely way to withdraw while keeping an ear open to what's up -- this could be part of why they're so popular to send to kids at camp.

So the most popular comics at the store are:

Calvin and Hobbes: it ran in papers from 1985 to 1995, then Bill Watterson stopped.  Wikipedia says he had issues with cartoon syndicates which wanted him to merchandise the strip more.  In any case, the Calvin and Hobbes books are finite, but new to successive generations.

Fox Trot by Bill Amend stopped its daily run in 2006, but still shows up in Sunday sections.  It's about a family with three kids: a 10 year-old brother who's brilliant and a geek, a 14 year-old sister who's a bit ditzy and feels put-upon by her brothers, and a 16 year-old jock.  The book titles are a lot of fun: Your Momma Thinks Square Roots are Vegetables, My Hot Dog Went Out, Can I Have Another?and How Come I'm Always Luigi?  Here's today's strip (click for bigger):

The older crowd tends to go for another discontinued one: The Far Side by Gary Larson which, like Calvin and Hobbes, ended in 1995.  But its sensibility lives on:
 My girls were always very fond of Zits by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman, in which Jeremy for years remained a 15 year-old, but he's recently advanced to 16 and now drives.

And Mona's and my favorite is a newcomer to the funny pages: Cul de Sac by Richard Thompson, with the wonderful Alice, a pre-schooler: 

I have memories of my children lying around on couches, hammocks, lawns flipping through these strips.  Great escape.



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